My name is Jessica Indovino. I’m currently completing the Early Childhood Education program at Georgian College in Orillia. On March 26, I spoke with Alethia O’Hara-Stephenson, founder of Dufferin County Canadian Black Association(DCCBA). They are a wonderful organization that provides education to young Black people who feel that they are being racialized. Before I did this interview, I didn’t think racism was an issue in Ontario, but I have come to realize that even though Black people have access to education and are entitled to human rights, racism is a large issue. Dufferin County Canadian Black Association’s mission is:
“To provide leadership for the continued development and enhancement of the Black community through civic engagement, education, programs and services and advocate for equity and wellbeing for the Black community in Dufferin County. To be a central hub for resources, tools and programs that are unique to the needs of the Black Community in Dufferin County.”
They have a goal and they are working hard to advocate for people. For example, when parents didn’t feel comfortable that their children were reading books with the “N” word, they found updated copies of the book to ensure that children would not be exposed to this language, accommodating both the children and the parents. They provide a voice, advocacy and a safe space. This social enterprise is connected to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They demonstrate Quality Education by making sure all children, regardless of race, are receiving proper education in a place where they feel safe and welcome. The association demonstrates Peace, Justice and Strong Intuition by raising awareness about the issue and allowing young people to have a voice.
The DCCBA makes profits from different sources, including sponsors and partners: companies such as Fieldgate Homes, Benjamin Law, Ontario Clean Water Agency, etc.. Anyone is welcome to sign up and they welcome new staff as a demonstration that more people are standing up for a safe environment where everyone has the voice they deserve. O’Hara-Stephenson appreciates her team’s accomplishments and all they have accomplished. She has plans to expand her organization beyond Dufferin County so more people can benefit. It’s easy to talk, but it takes a big person to step up and be the change they want to see.
My career goal is to become a teacher and during the interview, O’Hara-Stephenson told me “every child is capable, smart and capable regardless of their age, race, ability/disability or religious background. Make a conscious effort to include every child.” I completely agree and will keep an open mind and treat all children the same because we are all human and deserve equal treatment. I predict big things for DCCBA in the future; this enterprise cannot end racism, but it is giving young Black people a sense of security and a place where they are not judged and where they belong.