You could hear a pin drop during a very poignant moment of a celebration last Saturday night in Markham to honour role models in the Black community.
Just before Order of Canada recipient and honorary York Regional Service Police Chief, Dr. Herbert Carnegie, was brought on stage to receive his award at the Apple Creek Seventh-Day Adventist Church’s Black History Month tribute, he painfully recounted in a video clip the hurt he felt when he learned that late Maple Leafs owner, Conn Smythe, said the only way he could make the team was if he was White.
“He cut my knees out from under me,” Carnegie, who was denied the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League because of his skin colour, tearfully told the interviewer.
Carnegie picked himself off the ice and has gone on to make a major impact on the lives of young people through his Future Aces Creed he developed and the foundation he set up that offers scholarships. Late last year, the York Region District School board opened a new school in Carnegie’s name.
“When I was around eight years old attending Lansing Public School, I received a minus six mark in a spelling test,” he recalled. “Just imagine, there is a school now in my name. That should say to young people that they can overcome barriers.”
Black History Month awards were also presented to York Regional Police officer, Patrick Brown; Markham African Caribbean Association president, Pat Howell; Clairmont Humphrey, who donated a piece of his liver last year to save the life of a young child; Orville Wallace, Kingsley Cato, Patrick Griffiths and Share reporter, Ron Fanfair.
Apple Creek Seventh-Day Adventist Church senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Mansfield Edwards, acknowledged the award winners for being role models in the community and said his church is committed to celebrating Black history.
“The church, in my mind, is responsible not only to itself but the community it represents,” he said. “That’s why we celebrate Black history because it’s important that we celebrate our people’s history not just in February but throughout the year.
“When we carefully assess our history, we will notice that there is no other group of people in recent history who have suffered as long and as intensely as Black folk.”
The program also featured musical selections performed by Rochelle Hanson, Karl Hutchinson, Raheim Hurlock, Dave McLaughlin and Expression of Praise.