PEI

Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. hopes to advance discussions on race in 2021

The hope for 2021 is society will start to see change actually happen when it comes to racial injustice, says Tamara Steele, outgoing president of the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I.

‘I hope that people can find a way to realize within themselves how they can do better’

Tamara Steele is the outgoing president of the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. (Submitted by Tamara Steele)

The death of George Floyd in 2020 heightened awareness of police brutality, racism and the impact they have on the BIPOC community.

Thousands of people in the Maritimes took to the streets demanding change, including Charlottetown.

The hope for 2021 is society will start to see change happen when it comes to racial injustice, says Tamara Steele, outgoing president of the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I.

"I hope that people can find a way to realize within themselves how they can do better, and then have those conversations with others in their circle so that message can spread further," Steele said.

"I think that's how that change happens. I think that's how we change people's minds."

Police estimated there were about 8,000-10,000 people at the Charlottetown demonstration as it kicked off, says Steele. (Cody MacKay/CBC)

Steele said she believes the views some Islanders had on racism have already changed following the Black Lives Matter demonstration in Charlottetown earlier this year.

"It did definitely spark a lot of awareness and a lot of action with individuals and with organizations to really look at themselves and say, 'How can we do better?'" she said.

Police estimated there were about 8,000-10,000 people at the Charlottetown demonstration as it kicked off, Steele said.

"Some people have used that day to change their minds, or that day has changed their minds, and they're doing that work to look within and seeing how they can do better," she said.

Members of the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. asked several MLAs to take a stand against racism outside the P.E.I. Legislature this past June. (Ken Linton/CBC)

The demonstration and tabling of a petition at the P.E.I. Legislature in 2020 sparked the spirit of activism in her, Steele said.

The petition calls on the P.E.I. government to perform "an extensive review of all provincial legislation and policies, applying a racially-focused lens, with an immediate focus on education, health care, well-being, and job security."

Steele thinks 2020 was the year some people changed their views on race for the better, and she hopes to see that continue into 2021.

"My hope is that those discussions continue and people humble themselves to difficult conversations and uncomfortable situations so they can be better people in the end," she said.

She hopes that then translates to how people carry themselves at work and the workplace policies they influence, Steele said.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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With files from Angela Walker

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