Greg Fergus (member of Parliament for Hull-Aylmer) was recently interviewed by CAPE in his capacity as Chair of the Canadian Caucus of Black Parliamentarians. The interview, part CAPE’s activities marking Black History Month, was conducted by Dina Epale – Senior Advocacy and Public Affairs Advisor. It is worth noting that Mr. Fergus is also the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and to the Minister of Digital Government.
Dina Epale: The theme for this year’s Black History Month is “Canadians of African descent going forward, guided by the past.” As we take a moment to recognize and honour Black culture and Black Canadians and their impact on Canada’s growth, prosperity and accomplishments, what message do you have for our members?
Greg Fergus: Well, specifically for your members I would say that what they’d want to do is to take a
look at the contributions which Blacks have made to this country and to the building of our Public Service. History is nothing concrete; it always depends on the perspective that you have. So, if you are looking to see the contributions of Black Canadians, you’ll find it. And I would argue that what we don’t do well enough is talk about our accomplishments and talk about our contributions, and to value that. More and more, the stories are coming out now; more and more, scholarship is pointing out the unrecognized contributions of Black Canadians to the building of our country. And I think we need to value that more and more, and bring those stories forward to change the way that we talk about our community. but rather how others would talk about our community. And for us to take pride in understanding where we’ve come from.
D. Epale: You are the Chair of the Canadian Caucus of Black Parliamentarians. Can you tell us a bit about this caucus, its mandate and some of the major achievements, obstacles or challenges?
G. Fergus: We were founded in the 42nd Parliament when we elected a record number of Black parliamentarians. There were seven Black parliamentarians and three senators eventually. They changed composition, but three Black senators of African/Caribbean descent. So, we thought this was a time for us to form this caucus. It was really born out of people just coming up to me and coming up to others and saying, “We’re so proud of you! My kid now sees that this has opened up a new door, a new horizon for them.” And so, I felt—and I think we all felt—that there was a real need for us to form a caucus to start taking and tackling some of the issues which our community faces.
The things that we face are troublesome. Aside from Indigenous peoples, we’re the second group that faces the most discrimination, that has faced many obstacles. Whether it’s employment, whether it’s in scholarship. I mean, you’ve seen some of the studies which came...To continue reading, please click here to download the PDF.