The early January magnitude 7.0 earthquake which devastated Haiti and killed some one quarter million people while leaving about one million homeless foretold that 2010 was not going to be an easy year to get through. Now, as we stand on the far side of a particularly testy year we can see that indeed it presented some surprising and some troubling days.
The earthquake, described as the worst Haiti had seen in 200 years, was followed by flood rains, then a cholera outbreak that has taken hundreds of lives.
Adding to the natural disaster, human drama was not far behind with political forces attempting, in all the chaos, to hold a free and fair presidential election, the results of which are still under question.
In the U.S., President Barack Obama signed his sweeping healthcare reform bill into law, a historic achievement.
In Canada, we celebrated our athletes at Vancouver’s Winter Olympics. But we had our own disasters, of human making, perhaps foreshadowed by the tremor that rippled from southeastern Quebec just days before the last weekend in June when the G20 Summit took place in “Fortress Toronto”.
As frightening as the earth tremors were, and as outraged as many were by the $1.2-billion cost to prepare for the two-day meeting of heads of governments, many more were shocked to see G20 protests turn violent. Rebel protesters smashed store windows, burned police cars and generally vandalized the downtown Toronto area while heavily armed police stood by without responding. Yet, within 24 hours of that horrible spectacle innocent citizens were being corralled and detained, and in far too many cases beaten or otherwise roughed up by police officers, many of whom could not be identified because they had deliberately removed their nametags.
Months later, Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin made it clear in his report on the events that the authorities had violated the Charter of Rights.
Not even the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, nor Ghana’s dramatic 4-2 loss to Uruguay in penalty kicks could distract from the shock Torontonians felt.
Our community had its share of challenges. For weeks following Caribana, Share’s publisher, Arnold A. Auguste, led a lively discussion which generated great response about the future ownership of the annual festival. Readers expressed similar concerns that Caribana is being shifted out of the hands of the community and being taken over, perhaps by the city government. We questioned the lack of openness in fiduciary accounting on the part of the current managers. Community members responded loudly, insisting that Caribana must remain a community-based cultural entity. We certainly hope it does.
We also had to sound the alarm when the principal of the Africentric Alternative School, Thando Hyman-Aman, was placed on leave for close to one month while the Toronto District School Board investigated allegations from a parent regarding the principal’s treatment of her son, a student at the school. Heightened concern and vocal parent activism brought the issue to its needed conclusion with Hyman-Aman returned to her post after the TDSB concluded the allegations were unfounded. We still question why it took so long.
While there were many matters of concern during 2010, there were many individuals in this community who earned praise and recognition for their continued achievements and contributions to the larger society.
Now, we are here, on the cusp of another new year. What lies ahead is anyone’s guess. However, we go forward with confidence and with faith in He who has brought us this far. May God bless us all and continue to guide our path.
Happy New Year.