Remembering the good folks

By PAT WATSON

An important point that kept being made by the family of 29-year-old Kenneth Mark, who was killed by unnamed assailants during what should have been one of the happiest occasions of the year – Christmas – was that he was a community activist. His family wanted everyone to know that he was a good person.

Reports are that Mark, a Wal-Mart night manager, was shot in the head from behind only days after a court found there wasn’t enough evidence to convict the person or persons accused of having shot him in 2008. During that 2008 incident, Mark was reportedly trying to protect a woman and her child in the housing complex where he lived with his family. Mark was said to have given evidence in court about the alleged shooter or shooters.

His family has asked rightly why the justice system could not protect a person who honoured his civic duty by speaking up, especially since the Black community is criticizes with such vigor for not giving information to law authorities in the pursuit of justice. We wait to hear a comprehensive answer from the protective forces.

There is no avoiding the fact that there are killers living among us. Toronto police statistics indicate that in 2009, 68 lives were taken in acts of murder.

Yet it is also true that for most of us, the closed, anomic world of the young gangster is truly alien. All that most of us really know of this netherworld is what we read or otherwise learn through the news media.

As is the usual practice at this time of year, news organizations have been looking back at the events of the past year. Some have recounted our many sins, both collective and individual. There is no question that there are matters of significant concern to all of us, which have been brought about solely through human carelessness – the threat of climate change on the environment, the H1N1 flu epidemic and the economic recession being uppermost among many.

However, while we rightly mourn those whom we have lost, to focus only on the misadventures and tragedies that we bring upon ourselves is to overlook the full spectrum of events that have coloured our lives during 2009.

To review the past year as Share had reported on it is to remember and recognize not so much the horrific outcome of the wrongdoings of misguided individuals. For there have always been those who take the anti-social path. Rather this publication has placed the spotlight more on the achievements and laudable contributions of the many. There are people of all ages and stages across the Black populations who have achieved so much about which we can be appreciative.

Were it not for the tragic circumstances of his death, Kenneth Mark might have entered these pages for his community building and community strengthening efforts alone. The kind of courage and strength of character that he has been described as embodying ought to be an inspiration to others for, eventually, everyone is called upon to take a stand against tyranny or for a moral cause.

One of the ironies of life is that the true essence of any person’s existence may not be quite understood until his or her passing.

Others from this community who passed on last year and have also left positive legacies include Eugenie Gardner, 71, co-founder of the community cancer advocacy group, the Olive Branch of Hope; Edsworth Searles, 87, a founding member of the Negro Citizenship Association and the first Black lawyer to be called to the British Columbia Bar; Gwendolyn Johnston, 94, who, with her late husband, Leonard, established Third World Books and Craft; Victoria George-Pazzano, 29, a Caribana Scholarship winner, wife and mother; Washington Savage, 46, considered one of Canada’s brightest young musical talents; Major Dr. Marguerite (Peggy) Downes, 70, a Canadian Armed Forces Reservist for 45 years and Canada’s highest ranking Black officer; cultural activist Ayanna Black, 69, and Glandville (Brother Jack) Johnson of the Black Action Defense Committee.

It is important to look up to such members of our community in order to remember all that we really are. It is important that we not let a fixation on the worst aspect warp our perception.

On a note of semantics …

With U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin we had a politician who ‘went rogue’ and with Prime Minister Stephen Harper we have a politician who opts to prorogue. Whether you are pro- or anti-rogue, pro- or anti- prorogue, here we have lessons in political strategy.

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