Open Request Letter to Senator Marie-Francoise Megie to Sponsor ‘October as Caribbean Heritage Month in Canada’ (Oct 15, 2020)

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Senator Marie-Françoise Mégie

The Senate of Canada

Ottawa ON K1A 0A4

Good day Senator Mégie,

I am writing this letter on behalf of the Boards of Caribbean Women’s Society (CWS), Caribbean-Canadian Parents United, and Caribbean-Canadian Chamber of Commerce & Community; to request your support for the Caribbean-Canadian community by accepting the role of Sponsor to propose ‘October as Caribbean Heritage Month in Canada’.

To preclude any misunderstanding, while February is a commemorative month to recognize Black History and the historical experience and achievements of Black Canadians, exclusively of African ancestry; Caribbean Heritage Month is intrinsically different.

To discern, Caribbean Heritage Month recognizes, teaches, and explores the rich cultural heritage and contributions of Canadians of Caribbean descent; which infers forty-three distinct nations, counting Haiti; a range of ethnicities, comprising, Amerindian, South American, Asian, African, Southeast Asian, and European; as well as a six official languages, including French and Creole.

Since their first arrival in Canada in the late 1700’s to present day, Caribbean-Canadians continue to contribute to Canada’s growth and prosperity; for instance, your continuous contributions to the Senate since 2016.  The Caribbean community in Canada deserves merit for further enriching Canada’s mosaic.

As background, our accomplishments to date include:

  1. In 2018, CWS was a recipient of the Multi-Cultural Community Capacity Grant-Funding from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration; to plan and launch Caribbean Heritage Month; including the first Canadian website dedicated to sharing and promoting Caribbean Heritage Month in Canada www.ourchm.ca
  2. In partnership with Caribbean-Canadian Parents United and Caribbean-Canadian Chamber of Commerce & Community, CWS has been hosting a series of cultural events, activities, and social media campaigns throughout October in 2018, 2019 and 2020; to celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month.
  3. CWS has consistently recruited and mobilized hundreds of Caribbean-Canadian volunteers, including women, youth, and seniors, to contribute and participate in Caribbean Heritage Month activities and events since 2018.
  4. CWS hosted the first annual Caribbean Heritage Month flag-raising ceremony on October 1, 2018 at Mel Lastman Square in North York, Ontario.
  5. CWS hosted the second annual Caribbean Heritage Month flag-raising ceremony on October 1, 2019 at Ken Whillans Square in Brampton, Ontario.
  6. CWS hosted the third annual Caribbean Heritage Month flag-raising ceremony on October 1, 2020, via virtual livestream: https://youtu.be/T9-D1EN-H_4
  7. CWS has gained over 2000 signatures combined, on their Parliament of Canada petition https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2722 and their

change.org petition: http://chng.it/fndWtdwdLM.

  • CWS has received Congratulatory letters from Premier Doug Ford and the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
  • Several municipalities throughout the Ontario have proclaimed the month of October to be Caribbean Heritage Month, including Pickering, Whitby, Vaughan, Toronto, Caledon, Markham and Brampton.
  • CWS has consistently fostered and facilitated civic engagement activities within the Caribbean-Canadian community, including women, youth, and seniors; to advocate for Caribbean Heritage Month in Canada, since 2018.
  • CWS gained the support of MPP Michael Coteau in sponsoring Bill 134 in Ontario Parliament on October 28, 2019.

Senator Mégie, I am confident that I have provided you with sufficient evidence to prove that legislating Caribbean Heritage Month in Canada is of great significance to the Caribbean-Canadian community and would benefit all Canadians.  Given your Caribbean honor, as suggested by your past role as President of the Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad, and given, “ the Senate has evolved…to giving voice to underrepresented groups like…visible minorities and women” (https://sencanada.ca/en/about/), I trust that you will accept the very fitting role of Sponsor to propose ‘October as Caribbean Heritage Month in Canada’.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Camille Kerr

President