Mr. Speaker, on this day, the first day of Black History Month, 2012, I call on Canadians to join in celebration of the contributions that Canadians of African descent have made in the building of Canada. The contribution of African Canadians did not start with the waves of Caribbean immigrants during the 1960s, nor did it start with those who found refuge here by the grace of the underground railroad. It started with Matthew de Costa, an interpreter and negotiator for Champlain. It is the black Loyalists who fought for King George through the American Revolution and settled as Loyalists in Nova Scotia. It is the settlers of Amber Valley, Saskatchewan; Windsor, Ontario; Salt Spring Island, B.C. It is their brave participation in every battle for Canadian and world freedom.
They are inventors, businessmen, leaders, creators, thinkers, healers, warriors, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and ancestors. The children of Kush have given to Canada even before Canada existed.
However, there is work to be done. Balance and equality are still out of reach. I urge every Canadian to take a moment to discover who their neighbour is, to learn about their journey and to share their own.
Black History Month is not simply about looking back at the past, but using the past to move forward into the future.