The Honourable Anita Neville, P.C., O.M.
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba
Black History Month and Martin Luther King Day Ceremony
New Annointing Christian Fellowship
Sunday, January 29, 2023
(please check against delivery)
Friends, Manitobans, members of a strong and vibrant community, thank you for the opportunity to share in remembering a great spirit and promoting a better understanding of history.
I am proud to join you today here in the heart of Treaty One land, home of the Anishinaabe and the Red River Metis people, in the capital of a province that is home to the Cree, Dakota and Dene people. Here and throughout Manitoba, we are working to advance understanding, healing and reconciliation and build a better home for all.
Part of building a better world is resisting the injustice that stands in the way – as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did throughout his life. Along with resistance, those other keywords in this year’s Black History Month theme are also crucial: Remembrance, Recognition and Education.
Nationally, Black History Month has been recognized by the Government of Canada since 1995 on a motion put forward by my friend Jean Augustine – but here in Manitoba and especially among the members of this congregation these celebrations and commemorations have been a special part of the year for more than 40 years.
Sometimes, decades of growth will seem to appear suddenly – just as a sapling planted in a yard will spend years building its root network and gaining strength until one spring the beauty of its great spreading leaves will be obvious to all.
Likewise with broad awareness of the rich and deep history of the Black experience in Canada.
How many more Canadians have learned about Viola Desmond since she appeared on the Canadian ten dollar bill in 2018?
How many more Canadians will learn of the story of the Black railway porters as a result of Suzette Mayr winning our nation’s highest profile literary prize last fall for her novel The Sleeping Car Porter?
And how many Canadians, outside the Black community, knew of the story of the Number Two Construction Battalion – and the struggle of its members to serve their country in the First World War – before the Prime Minister issued an apology last year for the racism the battalion faced?
If there is today a dawning awareness among millions of Canadians of stories like this, it is only because of the many years of advocacy and public education by those who have worked to shine a light on this history. The many community organizations, educational and cultural institutions that have come together to organize a month’s worth of Black History Month events are fostering awareness and understanding to grow in our province, our nation and our world.
I wish you a successful and inspiring Black History Month.
Thank you, Merci, Meegwich.