Members of DRPS attended brunch in Toronto to help kick off the 20th Anniversary of Black History Month across Canada. The brunch was hosted by the Ontario Black History Society and welcomed dignitaries and members of police services from across Ontario.
The keynote speaker was the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first black female member of the House of Commons. She is responsible for putting forward the motion to declare February Black History Month in Canada under the Jean Cretien government. The vote in favour of national recognition was unanimous.
Deputy Chief Chris Fernandes participated in the event along with S/Sgt. Jeff Haskins. "We were pleased to take part in this important 20th Anniversary celebration," says D/Chief Fernandes. "Black History is such a major component of our history as Canadians."
During the event a postal stamp was unveiled signifying the 2nd Construction Battalion of WWI - The only black Battalion in Canadian History. At the beginning of WWI, black men were repeatedly turned away from recruiting stations. As the war entered its third year, this Battalion was formed and made up of predominantly black soldiers. The stamp commemorates the members of this historic Battalion; many earned medals for bravery on the front lines and some lost their lives. It wasn't until WWII that black soldiers were finally given opportunity to enlist and engage in combat.
The origins of Black History Month can be traced to 1926, when Black historian Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week to celebrate the history, contributions and culture of African-Americans. February was chosen to link the birth dates of Black activist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.
S/Sgt. Haskins and D/Chief Fernandes with members of Peel Regional Police (JPG file, 249.9K bytes)