Dufferin County Canadian Black Association presents to Mono Council

February 26, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Peter Richardson, Local Journalsim Initative Reporter

Mono’s Council heard a strong and informative presentation from Alethia O’Hara Stephenson, president of the Dufferin County Canadian Black Association (DCCBA) on Tuesday (Feb. 23) during their regular meeting.

Established in June of 2020, the Association was initiated primarily, to support the ever-growing Black population in Dufferin County.

Black people, including those of African descent as well as individuals from the Caribbean and the Latin diaspora represent the largest visible minority group in the County. Currently they form 3 per cent of the total population.

O’Hara Stephenson notes that this, “sets the stage for the need to have an established Association that can advocate and represent, the needs of the Black community Dufferin County.”

The Association is a registered non-profit organization. They are committed to being a true community partner and as such, their programs and events are open to all who wish to participate, volunteer or provide feedback.

The three members currently on the Board of Directors are O’Hara Stephenson, Jhordane Stephensons and Gear Harvey.

In addition, the Community Outreach Team at DCCBA consists or Phil Dewar, O’Hara Stephenson and Althea Casemento. The Association is sponsored by and partners with a number of community businesses and organizations, whose support allows for the various programs and initiatives that the DCCBA offers.

These include, the Upper Grand District School Board, the Town of Shelburne, Flato Developments Inc., Dufferin County, the Museum of Dufferin, The Shelburne Public Library, Benjamin Law and Dufferin’s Spotlight.

Th DCCBA has started a series of events in 2021. They run a series on the second Tuesday of each month on a variety of topics.

In January, the topic was Personal Branding, which demonstrated to participants ways in which to strengthen their own personal brand, as it related to presenting themselves to possible employers, organizations and things such as political endeavours, or simply everyday life experiences.

February saw a presentation on politics and generating voter engagement and in March the topic will be real estate investing. As well as this, they organized  two community events regarding Black History Month, both at the MOD, wit a Pan African Flag raising on February 1st and a panel discussion February 20th. There are numerous other events planned throughout 2021.

One of the largest projects, however, involves the youth of the community and providing various Scholarship opportunities. Funding is an issue for most post-secondary students today, but especially for minority youth.

Currently, several partners are on board with the DCCBA initiative, including the Dufferin County Bill Hill Scholarships, as well as Flato Developments Inc., Cariati Law, Fieldgate Homes, the Town of Shelburne and its own DCCBA Flagship Award – Black Excellence.

As with all their programs, these scholarships are open to any student who may qualify.

The DCCBA heard in 2020, from a variety of sources that community members need a safe place to learn, gather and share important community information. They want access to available job and volunteer opportunities and a safe place to create a sense of community and belonging as well as a space that is culturally relevant. Consequently, these goals are foremost in their planning.

A partnership with the DCCBA would give the Town of Mono access to many opportunities. A partnership to organize job workshops is currently under discussion with Georgian College.

Mono would gain access to DCCBA organized programs and events, like “Ask The Experts.” There would be the opportunity for community members to volunteer for various initiatives and the DCCBA Outreach Team would be available to provide workshops and speaking engagements on Anti-Racism and Black History Month. This would help to bring the message of diversity and inclusion to the Town.

Beyond that, are the scholarship opportunities and access to a variety of jobs offered in the DCCBA community and the Cultural programming and education opportunities such as Black History Month.

More direct benefits would be allowing the Town to help meet its diversity and inclusion goals, by ensuring all community members can access information. The DCCBA can share their news on its community spotlight page. There would be a direct link to the town website, a listing on the Business Directory page and the investment in the DCCBA community as well as the next generation.

What the DCCBA asks, is for an annual fee of $240, that the Town register as a partner on the business registration page and that DCCBA is listed as a resource on the Town of Mono Community Engagement Page.

After hearing the presentation, the floor was opened to questions and Coun. Fred Nix, the financial guardian amongst the councilors, inquired as to exactly the Town’s $240 would be spent and how the DCCBA differed from the Dufferin County efforts for these same goals.

O’Hara Stephenson explained that the organization worked within the sphere of the County diversity and inclusion goals but provided direct training and education as well as it’s other efforts. The money, she explained, would go to the scholarship program at the moment. She added that in the future the fees could be requested to be allocated to a given program of effort or go to the general expense budget for the Association. Coun. Nix then asked if any scholarships had been given out and was told that the deadline for applications was May 17 and that awarding of scholarships would occur following that date.

Council received the presentation and will have the Clerk add the request to the Donations Fund in the 2021 Budget, which will be presented on March 23, 2021.

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