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BLACK HISTORY MONTH

 

Honorable Senators, I rise during black history month to highlight notable British Columbians who have paved the way for success for the Black community of BC).

This year, Canada Post, as part of the Black History Month series, released a stamp commemorating the life of Seraphim “Joe” Fortes. 2013 is the 150th anniversary of his birth. Vancouverites simply called him JOE. Joe Fortes figured prominently as Vancouver’s first official lifeguard, patrolling English Bay and teaching children to swim; and was beloved by the people of Vancouver. During Vancouver’s centennial in 1986, the Vancouver Historical Society named Joe Fortes the Citizen of the Century in Vancouver.

Another prominent British Columbian whom I have recently become more acquainted with is Harry Jerome. Harry, the son of a train porter, was for a time the fastest man in the world, holding the world record of 10 seconds in the 100 metres.

He won a Bronze medal for Canada in the 100 metres at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970. Sadly Harry passed away in 1982 at the age of 40, but his legacy lives on in the Harry Jerome International Track Classic, and international meet held in Swanguard Stadium, a place where I ran the 100 metre as a high school student; and the bronze statue of him located in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. In the year 2010, he was named a Person of National Historical Significance.

Daniel Igali, a British Columbian and Olympic Gold Medalist, left his country of birth Nigeria due to political unrest. He sought refugee status and became a Canadian citizen in 1998. While studying and training at Simon Fraser University, Daniel excelled in wrestling. He became a world champion wrestler in 1999 and won a Gold Medal for Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Who can forget his patriotic victory dance ending with him kissing the Canadian flag.

I would also like to recognize Orville Lee was a star football player from SFU. He was a first overall draft pick in the 1988 CFL draft by the Ottawa Roughriders; and later that year, was named CFL Rookie of the Year. Orville now runs the Pathfinder Youth Society helping at-risk youth in Surrey, British Columbia with his wife, Ruth. They are making a difference in the lives of many young people.

Honourable Senators, as we near the end of Black History Month, I am proud to speak of these accomplished African Canadians from British Columbia who have and are bettering the lives of others and are part of the proud legacy of Black Canadians.

Lastly, I wish to once more recognize our colleague Senator Donald Oliver, the first African Canadian male appointed to the Senate of Canada. He was the driving force to make Black History Month recognized in the Senate and in Canada. I end with a quote from a speech he made in 2008: “Black History Month is our opportunity to confidently state that racism has no place in Canada.

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