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Reflecting on African Canadian Economic Progress

The Legacy of Emancipation

 Emancipation Day traces back to 1834, when the British Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act, officially ending slavery in most British colonies, including Canada. Although this was a significant step towards justice and equality, the path to economic liberation for African Canadians has yet to be smooth.

The legacy of slavery left a lasting impact on the economic prospects of the African Canadian community. After being released from bondage, many formerly enslaved people faced tremendous challenges in finding gainful employment and building economic stability. The lack of access to education, property ownership, and capital meant that the road to economic empowerment was fraught with obstacles.

Progress and Achievements

Despite the historical disadvantages, African Canadians have displayed remarkable resilience and determination, gradually making strides in various economic sectors. Today, African Canadian entrepreneurs, professionals, and community leaders contribute significantly to Canada’s economic growth and cultural diversity.

  1. Business and Entrepreneurship: African Canadians have established thriving businesses across diverse industries, from technology and finance to art and entertainment. Their entrepreneurial spirit has driven innovation and enriched the country’s economic landscape.
  2. Education and Skills Development: Investing in education and skills development has been pivotal in empowering the African Canadian community. By pursuing higher education and vocational training, many have been able to access better career opportunities and contribute to the nation’s skilled workforce.
  3. Financial Literacy and Economic Empowerment: Organizations like ours have promoted financial literacy and economic empowerment within the African Canadian community. Through workshops, mentorship programs, and access to financial resources, these initiatives have empowered individuals to make informed financial decisions and pursue economic independence.

Challenges and Ongoing Struggles

 While African Canadians have made undoubted progress, we must remain vigilant in addressing the challenges that persist for the African Canadian community:

  1. Economic Disparities: Disparities in income and wealth still exist, with African Canadians facing higher rates of unemployment and lower median incomes compared to the general population. Addressing these inequalities requires targeted economic policies and initiatives.
  2. Access to Capital: Access to capital remains a significant obstacle for African Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses. Ensuring equitable access to funding and financial resources will foster growth and sustainability within the community.
  3. Representation and Leadership: Increasing the representation of African Canadians in leadership positions, both in the public and private sectors, is crucial for creating an inclusive and diverse economy that benefits everyone.

As we come together to commemorate Emancipation Day, we acknowledge the struggles faced by our ancestors and the progress made by the African Canadian community over the years. We must celebrate our achievements and use this occasion to catalyze further economic growth and prosperity.

At FACE, we remain committed to advocating for economic equity and inclusivity for African Canadians. We can build a more just and prosperous society for all by addressing the challenges that persist, fostering entrepreneurship, and promoting financial literacy. Emancipation Day is a powerful reminder of our shared history and collective responsibility to shape a brighter future for future generations.

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Rob G.C. Sobey

Board Member

Rob G.C. Sobey is a corporate director. Mr. Sobey was the President & Chief Executive Officer of Lawton’s Drug Stores Limited from 2006 until his retirement in 2014 after 25 years with Sobeys. He serves as a director of SeaFort Capital and the Institute of Corporate Directors. Mr. Sobey is Chair of the Sobey Art Foundation, a member of the Queen’s Smith School of Business Advisory Board and serves on several foundation and not-for-profit boards. For his work as an Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Army, Mr. Sobey received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He holds an undergraduate from Queen’s University, a Master of Business Administration from Babson College, and the ICD.D designation.

Denburk Reid

Board Member

Denburk Reid is the founder of Montreal Community Care Foundation (MCCF). Its mission is to empower youth by developing their leadership skills by using programs, workshops, and events, and by building bridges between communities. As the founder of MCCF, he beliefs that the youth hold the key to Montreal’s future and over the past eight (8) years, its programs have helped hundreds of Montreal youth stay on track, perform community services as well as set and achieve academic and life goals. The organization seeks to empower youth to become engaged citizens and leaders in their homes, schools, and communities. For the past five (5) years, MCCF celebrates and promotes community engagement across Montreal through the Montreal Community Cares Awards.

Along with his role as the founder of MCCF, Mr. Reid is the Founder of Red Rush Basketball & Red Rush Basketball Leadership. He has a passion for empowering youth and meeting them where they are lends to a successful outcome.

Abdikhier Ahmed​

Board Member

Mr. Ahmed is a recognized community leader in the non-profit sector with specializations in immigration and refugee resettlement, poverty reduction, and community empowerment. A dynamic, highly motivated individual with extensive experience in program development and delivery, providing strategic visioning and leadership. Over 10 years’ experience managing programs for non-profit organizations and working with communities and people from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds both locally as well as internationally. Fluently multi-lingual: speaks and writes English, Swahili, Somali and basic Arabic. This experience help guide Mr. Ahmed when he was in the role of Director of Policy at the Office of Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

Mr. Ahmed is currently the Executive Director of Aurora Family Therapy Centre. Aurora is a progressive, non-profit family therapy centre that offers family therapy on a sliding scale; sees clients through services funded by Manitoba Department of Families and Department of Justice; provides community building groups for Newcomers to Canada; hosts a Psycho-Social Settlement Needs Assessment program for incoming refugees; provides summer youth programming for many newcomer communities; supports its own staff and other agencies through vicarious trauma and resilience programming; develops supportive relationships with community partners, and engages in advocacy for accessible community-based therapy services for all. Aurora is in the process of becoming a Centre of Excellence in providing cross cultural therapy from a systemic lens with a special focus on psychological trauma & recovery and community development.