#Trudeau tells hundreds of applicants they’re not #Black enough for money from the Black community initiative #BLM
The government deemed organizations to be sufficiently “Black-led” if at least two-thirds of their board members and senior leadership identify as Black, the official said. The program awarded 90 applicants up to $7 million this week to grow their operations through renovations and the purchase of equipment. The government also appointed three external organizations — Tropicana Community Services, the Black Business Initiative and Groupe 3737 — to disperse another $2.6 million “to support grassroots organizations serving Black communities across Canada.”
Celina Caesar-Chavannes, the former Liberal MP for Whitby who quit the party in 2019 amidst the SNC-Lavalin scandal, posted the rejection letter on Twitter after hearing from organizations whose applications were denied this week. In an interview with the Star, Chavannes said Hussen’s response angered her because the minister prefaced his acknowledgment of the problem with several paragraphs describing efforts by himself and the government to support the Black community.
“If you think I am upset about this — I am livid. Because I am tired of this government in particular pandering to Black communities, using us when they need to take photo ops and take a knee in the middle of a f--ing crowd, and then when they get back up, telling us that we’re not Black enough to give us a little piece of the pennies that they’re giving us in the first Goddamn place,” she told the Star.
Caesar-Chavannes was referring to how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined a demonstration last summer and took a knee in the crowd, a signal of solidarity with those calling for action against police brutality and racism amidst a global movement sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota last year.
Matthew Green, an NDP MP from Hamilton who is a member of the Parliamentary Black Caucus in Ottawa, said it is clear that the demand for the community initiative “far surpasses” the money the Liberal government was willing to spend on it. He said the department should have decided to increase the funding, rather than to set an “arbitrary means test of Blackness” that ended up cutting out hundreds of applicants.
Federal statistics show that of a total workforce of 287,983 in 2019, 34,004 federal public service employees identified as visible minorities, including 6,468 who were Black. That’s up from 28,058 who identified as visible minorities — 5,218 who were Black — in 2017, when the total workforce numbered 262,969.