Ted Arnott, MPP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2017
MPPs mark Black History Month at the Ontario Legislature
(Queen’s Park) – On February 21, the very first day of the spring sitting of the Ontario
Legislature, MPPs set aside time to recognize Black History Month and the United Nations
International Decade for People of African Descent.
Children and Youth Services Minister Michael Coteau, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, and
Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott all spoke on behalf of their respective Caucuses.
The following is the Hansard record of Mr. Arnott’s remarks:
On behalf of the Ontario PC caucus, I am honoured to respond to today’s statement by the
Minister of Children and Youth Services and the minister responsible for anti-racism in
recognition of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, and in
recognition of Black History Month, and in celebration of the outstanding achievements of
Ontario’s black community.
An understanding of history is vitally important if we are to understand the present and how we
came to today. Knowledge of history is in many ways a guide to the future, for it was once said:
“The only new thing under the sun is the history you don’t know.” It’s so true.
We all need to take an interest in the extraordinary history of this province and our beloved
country. We have been hearing this month the compelling stories of brave war heroes,
courageous civil rights pioneers and determined trailblazers. Hearing these stories, we come to
better realize that black history is Ontario history. It is the history of Ontario as a beacon of
freedom for those escaping the cruelty of slavery in the American South. It is a story of the black
Loyalists and the War of 1812 veterans who fought courageously for their freedom with the hope
of one day calling Canada home. It is the legacy of a people’s perseverance and determination
forged in the face of great challenge and adversity.
We hear the stories of former slaves who found freedom here in Ontario, like Josiah Henson
and Richard Pierpoint, which remind us of slavery’s inhumanity and also that liberty and
tolerance are central to the character of the province of Ontario.
We hear the story of civil rights pioneers like Viola Desmond, which remind us of what prejudice
and injustice look like, and also inspire the next generation of Canadians to stand up for the
courage of their convictions.
We hear the story of Canadians like Lincoln Alexander, whose birthday we acknowledged on
January 21. We do this not simply as a reminder of the trials and challenges of bigotry, but also
to encourage the next generation of Canadians to strive for excellence, to never give up and to
give back in service to the country. Black History Month is a time to recognize these stories of heroism, bravery and triumph over
adversity. Together, all of us can work to ensure that the values we champion—freedom,
democracy and human rights—are what unite Ontarians of all backgrounds.
In this, the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, we say this:
Racism in any form is unacceptable. We stand together to condemn racism in any way it may
appear and in any way it manifests itself, for in the 21st century it is our diversity that will
continue to be one of our greatest strengths, showing Canada to be a beacon for the world.
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