Initiatives

Between 2014-2015, BCAN was a leading member of a collaborative initiative (Facilitating Access Change and Equity in Systems (FACES)), that studied the experiences of African Canadian youth in areas such as education and criminal justice.  The FACES project’s report, Fighting an Uphill Battle, was released in February 2015 and documented troubling experiences of anti-Black racism faced by African Canadian students within education, particularly related to excessive discipline and suspensions.  The Fighting an Uphill Battle report, and subsequent community response, prompted the Peel District School Board (PDSB) to conduct an internal study of the experiences of Black male students, released in October 2016, which validated the findings of the FACES report and raised institutional commitment to explore the issues further.

In addition to a focus on education, BCAN has maintained an emphasis on addressing systemic racism in child welfare.  In 2015, we launched a report, Pathways and Prevention of Disporportionalities in the Child Welfare, which examined the roots of the overrepresentation of African Canadians in child welfare, and put forward a series of recommendations aimed at prevention and service improvement through inter-sectoral systems change.  Since then, BCAN has been working to build bridges between leadership in child welfare, policing, education, and Black-focused community agencies in the region.  BCAN is actively involved advocating for equity in policing and criminal justice, building bridges between community stakeholders and Peel Regional Police.

Major Activities

The facilitation, creation and integration of opportunities for equitable access to community resources for the African Caribbean Black community in Peel.

BCAN operates from a holistic framework that embraces the life experiences, history and traditions of Peel’s diverse Black Community. The facilitation, creation and integration of opportunities for equitable access to community resources for the African-Caribbean Black community in Peel are based on an African centered approach. Working from this approach, BCAN places the needs, concerns and challenges of the Black community at the center of our organization’s community engagement.

  • Community Mobilization
  • Community Education
  • Promotion of Civic Participation
  • Advocacy

Community Mobilization

BCAN was approached by African Canadian Legal Clinic after our community again witnessed a rash of gun violence to actively participate and provide the Peel perspective in a proactive response initiated by Toronto based black community organizations, to the announcement of Premier McGuinty appointing Minister Hoskin to create the Youth Action Plan in response to escalating violence in the African, Carribean Black community/priority neighborhoods. Peel has historically been left out of these types of strategic planning and community response dialogues as these incidents are normally viewed to be Toronto focused, however BCAN was extremely successful in actively participating and in some instances leading these dialogues. This break through can be directly attributed to the early efforts made by BCAN to connect with the black community in other geographic communities (ie. York Region; Durham Region). BCAN led the mobilizing of all black community organizations and resident leaders in collaboration with UWPR Black Community Advisory Council to engage the community in the many strategic planning discussion in relation to the Action Plan. BCAN was integral at the Toronto initiated planning table providing Peel based demographic data; and subsequently presented these findings to Minister Hoskin, Minister Meuillier, and

Deputy Minister Bezzini. BCAN is still involved in these conversations. The result has translated into Peel being included in ongoing dialogue with MCYS to provide context to building community capacity and infrastructure; as well as a concerted effort of MCYS to continue to explore and understand the needs of the black community in Peel Region.

BCAN’s work and continual presence directly influenced the Ministry of Children and Youth Services call for proposal for the allocation of 4.5 Youth Outreach Workers for Peel Region spanning the following four agencies; the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Malton Neighbourhood Services, the YMCA and Fernie House. BCAN’s first OTF research document was included as a link on the actual application- where MCYS clearly stated that all applicants had to demonstrate how they would engage the black community. MCYS is very interested in continuing dialogues to build capacity in Peel Region.

As a part of the collaborative, BCAN’s work also continues to inform the implementation of the Action Plan which includes the following Peel related initiative…

  • Agencies were invited to apply for after school recreation programming. Fourteen(14) new sites received base funding for after school recreation programming in Peel.
  • The permanent Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities was created and launched on March 21, 2013;
  • The Roots of Youth Violence is a permanent mandate of the newly established Poverty Reduction Cabinet Committee;
  • Dr. Alvin Curling, Strategic Advisor to the Minister of Children and Youth Services on Youth Opportunities has been appointed to the Cabinet of Poverty Reduction Committee.

Community Education

BCAN has facilitated Anti-Black Racism training to educate the Network members about the prevalence of anti-black racism. The interactive training shed light on some of the shortcomings of Canada’s compliance with its anti-racism obligations while further providing practical tools for challenging ABR in organization and the community at large. BCAN has produced an article – Erasure: Anti-Black Racism Defined – which defines the cultural xenophobia experienced by Black persons.

BCAN has also facilitated and supported various workshops such as a Drumming Circle Expo, Film Screening, and financial management.

Promotion of Civic Participation

Civic engagement and participation is very much a part of the work of BCAN. BCAN will be focusing on voter engagement opportunities for the upcoming October 2014 elections.

Advocacy

The work of the Black Community Action Network is centered around advocacy. BCAN is committed toward building a prosperous Peel that is comprised of healthy people, supported families, opportunities for all – overall inspiring a fruitful, connected community. As such, BCAN will work at identifying and addressing systemic barriers to Regional services such as racism and social exclusion.

BCAN recognizes the value of the human capital that is present within its Network. The idea of social inclusion which advocates for equality of opportunity to all persons is extremely important to the work of BCAN.