Another Letter To Canada's Governor General Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette

Another Letter To Canada's Governor General Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette

Greater Toronto Area’s Black community, author, broadcaster and community organizer Jamaican Canadian B. Denham Jolly

At the beginning of this year The Caribbean Camera published an editorial that asked you to include ALL Canadians in your decision making process when you decide who is to join the ranks of Order of Canada. Good news, ten months later -- it appears you listened and have now included a single person of colour amongst the latest additions to this exclusive club.

One out of 114. Yes it was a baby step and yes you have a long way to go. But we rejoice that our Queen’s representative has noticed us!

It was in our January 8th edition that our erstwhile reporter Stephen Weir penned an editorial that pointed out to you, The Governor General, that your December 2019 list of citizens who had earned the Order of Canada had a lot of people missing – specifically the names of people of colour.

He also pointed out that this wasn’t the first time your appointment list did not include a single person of colour. In the summer of 2019 you missed a whole swath of this country. Using the Google Images search engine the paper determined there were over 200 chosen, none of whom were Caribbean, Canadian, or Black Canadians or African Canadians to receive Order of Canada honours last year. We strongly suggested that Canada do better in 2020.Well, last week the GG released the names of all the new appointees who have now joined the ranks of the Order of Canada for 2020. A total of 84 new people made the grade.

And the good news? For his contributions to the promotion of equity and opportunity within the Greater Toronto Area’s Black community, author, broadcaster and community organizer Jamaican Canadian B. Denham Jolly, has made it into the country’s most exclusive club. The apparent recent colour ban has been broken with this single appointment.

The irony is not lost on this paper that Mr. Jolly is one of the founders of this city’s Black Action Committee. Back in the early 80s he and Dudley Laws, Lennox Farrell, Kingsley Gillam, Charles Roach and many others demonstrated and demanded equal rights, justice inclusion for the Caribbean community. They broke many barriers but obviously not the unspoken ones.

Your website explains that the “Order of Canada is how our country honours people who make extraordinary contributions to the nation. Since its creation in 1967— Centennial Year—more than 7 000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order”. Unfortunately during your tenure, anyone of colour need not wait by the mailbox for the Royal order to arrive.

The truth is you are not solely responsible for picking the winners. Your office carefully reviews and vets the nomination forms that are sent in by all Canadians before you get to see the best bets.

Technically anyone can be nominated to receive this prestigious award. Truth is, a simple letter from a lowly citizen has as much chance of being read as a letter to Santa.

In many cases committees are formed and PR firms hired to handle individual applications. They collect recommendations from equally famous Canadians along with notes of support from Members of Parliament, Senators, Premiers and the like, to help the cause.

The chosen are the Canadian game changers (your words not ours); the folks that have made a significant difference to life in Canada. This November’s picks included leaders in everything from the study of extrasolar planets to the invention of ice cider.

So many heroes. So much giving. So many patriots. The Caribbean Camera doesn’t question the worth of these stars making the cut. What we ask you, as the head of our government, for the second time this year is: What about our heroes?

Again, hooray for choosing our friend Mr. Jolly, but don’t stop there. The line of deserving Caribbean Canadian is getting longer every day. What about Toronto activist Desmond Cole, one of the city’s most powerful voices for Black liberation, who won the $10,000 2020 Toronto Book Award two nights ago? Or what about adding Denise Herrera-Jackson, who after a decade of leadership with the Toronto Caribbean Carnival has stepped away from the parade? 

You have been to Space. You travel the World on Canada’s behalf. Nownwe you to visit Jane and Finch, Jump up with the Kiddies in Malvern, be the conductor on the annual Underground Railroad ceremony, take a seat at an Obsidian performance and see the best culture on the planet.
Let our readers prove to you that Black Lives Matter!