Pickering Councillor Faces Backlash After Penning Op-Ed Criticizing Black History Month Celebrations
Sara Jabakhanji and Vanessa Balintec, CBC, February 6, 2024
A Pickering city councillor is facing backlash from community members and her council colleagues after penning an op-ed saying she does not support the concept of Black History Month, which led to public outcry and some demanding an apology.
In the op-ed, which was published online Sunday in the Oshawa Durham Central Newspaper, Coun. Lisa Robinson denounced the idea of celebrating Black History Month, arguing that “the race to equality is not the celebration of one race over another.
“We are so hung up on North American history and the historical trafficking of primarily African people that we have lost sense of time and period,” she wrote.
Carion Fenn, health advocate and founder of the Carion Fenn Foundation, said this is the latest example of inflammatory sentiment toward marginalized communities. Fenn is demanding Robinson apologize to Durham’s Black community.
“It’s insulting and it’s hurtful. It pains us. It brings up the hurt and the pain that we have endured and it continues that trauma that is impacting our health … We need to protect the Black community.”
Fenn said she would like to see the city’s integrity commissioner investigate Robinson’s remarks.
The Womxn of Colour Durham Collective, a youth-led organization, also criticized the op-ed.
“We find the language used deplorable as it in essence waters down the beauty, complexity and power that is Black History,” the Collective said.
Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe addressed the op-ed during an executive committee meeting on Monday, where he said the sentiments expressed by Robinson in the piece “run counter to the values we at council have collectively championed.
“Her words have caused concern in our community and in my view [have] hurt our community. As mayor, I’m obligated to address this matter with a degree of urgency,” Ashe said.
“It is disheartening to witness such displays of insensitivity towards Black History Month, a time when we should be celebrating the rich contributions of Afro-Canadians to our great nation,” he said.