Photo above: Bob Rae to receive ACAA Founder’s Award. Photo by Will Pate from Rotman School of Management, Toronto – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.
By Michael Van Cooten
AJAX, Ontario — Hon. Robert “Bob” Keith Rae, former Interim Leader of the Federal Liberal Party, will be honoured, during Black History Month, with an African Canadian Achievement Award of Excellence (ACAA) Founder’s Award.
When informed of tribute, Rae humbly said, “I’m honoured.”
The ACAA Founder’s Award is given to non-Black individual, whose efforts have contributed to the advancement and welfare of the African Canadian community.
Former Founder’s Award recipients have included:
Retired Senator, Romeo Dallaire; former Ontario Chief Justice, Roy McMurtry; former Toronto Star publisher, John Honderich; Toronto Mayor John Tory; former World Vision President and CEO, Dave Toycen; Toronto City Councillor, Joe Mehevic; former Toronto Police Chief and recently-elected Liberal Member of Parliament, William Blair; former Chair and CEO of TVOntario/TFO, Isabel Bassett; Former politician and co-founder of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Gordon Cressy; and Jennifer Tory, RBC Senior Vice-president, philanthropist and community builder.
Why did the ACAA select Rae for this recognition?
To borrow from Share newspaper columnist, Patrick Hunter, because “As Premier of Ontario, Rae brought many changes that recognized and responded to the needs of the Black community more than anyone since.”
He appointed Ontario’s first Black female member of Cabinet, Zanana Akande, and another African Canadian, Fran Endicott, as Chief Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission; and quoting Hunter again, he spare-headed “the process toward development of the Employment Equity Act, and the change of focus and importance of the Race Relations Directorate to the Ontario Anti-Racism Secretariat”.
Hunter continued, “On May 4, 1992, when a demonstration on Yonge Street, protesting the dismissal of charges against Los Angeles police officers who were filmed beating Black motorist, Rodney King, erupted into violence and vandalism, Rae met with community leaders and listened.
“Recognizing that there was more to the story, he asked former UN Ambassador, Stephen Lewis, to look into the problems and report back.
“Lewis did just that, replying in the form of a letter with the heading, ‘Dear Bob’, which informed a program of wide-ranging changes to address anti-Black racism in the province.”
Born on August 2, 1948, in Ottawa, Ontario, Rae was elected 11 times to the House of Commons and the Ontario legislature between 1978 and 2013. He was Ontario’s 21st Premier from 1990 to 1995, and served as interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from 2011 to 2013.
Since retiring from politics, he is now working as a lawyer, negotiator, mediator, and arbitrator, with a particular focus on first nations, aboriginal, and governance issues. He also teaches at the University of Toronto School of Governance and Public Policy, and is a widely respected writer and commentator.
An author of five books and many studies and reports, Rae is a Privy Councillor, a Companion of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Order of Canada, a member of the Order of Ontario, and has numerous awards and honorary degrees from institutions in Canada and around the world. He is married to Arlene Perly Rae, a writer and speaker, and they have three children.
The ACAA award for Excellence in Politics will go to Haiti-born Quebec politician, Emmanuel Dubourg.
Dubourg, a chartered accountant, by profession, who migrated to Canada from Haiti, was recently appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue.
He was elected to the National Assembly of Quebec for Viau in 2007, then served as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity and for two Ministers of Finance, and was re-elected as an MNA in 2008 and 2012.
Dubourg was elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament in November 2013 and served as critic for National Revenue and Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions. He is the first Haïtian native to be elected for the Quebec Liberal Party and for the Federal Liberal Party.
The father of two sons — Edwin-Simon and David — and whose motto is, “Discipline and Perseverance”, Dubourg says, his mother is the foundation of his achievements and success.
Thirteen other high-achieving African Canadians will be honoured at the gala, which is being hosted by award-winning author, Itah Sadu, who is also co-owner of A Different Booklist, a popular bookstore in Toronto, and Kerry-Lee Crawford, a dynamic radio personality at G98.7FM, Canada’s only Black radio station.
Live entertainment will be provided by Jazz and R&B icon, Jackie Richardson;, Kalabash, a Caribbean-infused jazz band; Shaina Sammone, a powerful-voiced upcoming balladeer; an African-inspired fashion show; and more.
The 32nd. annual ACAA gala, which is owned and organized by Pride News Magazine, will be held on Saturday, February 20, at the Jane Mallett Theatre, inside the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front Street, East, starting at 7PM sharp. Tickets cost: $40.00 for adults and $20.00 for youth, 18-years and under.
The event is being sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Nursing and Homemakers Inc. (NHI), Benjamin Law, Dr. Sheridan Cyrus, Jon and Don McKay, Grace Lyons, JNBS, Victor and Sharmon and Pastor Frederica Walters.