Ottawa

Online event aims to spark conversation about Black disparity

A group of more than 1,000 is expected to gather online today in hopes of gaining the attention of Canada's policy makers and starting a conversation about the plight of the country's Black population.

RU Listening hopes to use this moment of history to make message heard

According to Statistics Canada, Black children are often worse off, in terms of socio-economic markers like education, than previous generations. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A group of more than 1,000 is expected to gather online today in hopes of gaining the attention of Canada's policy makers and starting a conversation about the plight of the country's Black population.

"So this is an opportunity for us as Black Canadians to take stock and to talk about charting a course, a way forward," said Ottawa resident Richard Sharpe, an organizer of the RU Listening event. 

Sharpe  said the gathering hopes to use this moment of history — from the killing of George Floyd by a police officer, to COVID-19 disproportionately affecting minority populations — to make its message heard. 

The United Nations has also declared 2015 to 2024 the "International Decade for People of African Descent," Sharpe added, and these factors have all helped Canadians wake up to the disparity Black people face. 

Ottawa resident Richard Sharpe is an organizer of the RU Listening event. (Supplied by Richard Sharpe)

'In crisis'

"We are in crisis. The Black house is burning in the neighbourhood of Canada, and we need — not only people to put out that fire — but we need people and allies to help rebuild that house," he said. "And support the people who are now homeless or disenfranchised while that Black house is being rebuilt."

Sharpe said several federal politicians, including members of the parliamentary Black caucus, plan to tune into Sunday evening's conversation. Politicians of every level are encouraged to participate, however. 

He said the hope is those politicians will learn more about what needs to be done.  

"Things, like you know, like an apology for the Canada's role in the transatlantic slave trade and the the wealth that was generated for white Canadians," Sharpe said. "The impoverishment and the disadvantage, the generational disadvantage, that we continue to face following the African Holocaust."

Citing data from Statistics Canada, Sharpe noted that Black children are often worse off, socio-economically, than previous generations. 

"This is part of the frustration that people of African descent ... have. If we've known this for so many years now — three, four years — why are we not seeing any direct initiatives to improve our condition?"

The event starts at 5 p.m. ET.

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