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“Not Black Enough:” Ottawa denies Black groups federal funding for being ‘insufficiently Black"

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

Certain Black organizations have been denied funding by a federal program designed to help Black groups build capacity after Employment and Social Development Canada informed them they are insufficiently Black.

One such group, Operation Black Vote, which aims to get more Black people elected in Canada, received an email stating their application did not show "the organization is led and governed by people who self-identify as Black."

Velma Morgan, an activist and chair of the non-profit, responded in an interview with the Canadian Press.

"If you're from the Black community, you know that they're Black-run and Black-focused," she said. Morgan added that everyone on her team is Black and that at least five Black organizations also were rejected funding for similar reasons.

One of these five is the Ontario Black History Society. A registered charity dedicated to “study, preservation and promotion of Black history and heritage,” it similarly was rejected for funding by ESDC.

Celina Caesar-Chavannes, a former Liberal MP who resigned over conflict with the Prime Minister, stated that these Black organizations have been cowed into not going public, fearing the opportunity to be denied future funding opportunities.

"Why should these organizations be afraid of trying to speak up when something goes wrong?" said Caesar-Chavannes. "That's the problem with how the government operates."

Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen has called the situation "completely unacceptable" and vowed it would not occur again, although questions concerning how this happened in the first place went unanswered.

"I will continue to work with Black Canadian organizations to improve our systems," said Hussen.

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