As they set out to steer the Canadian Caribbean Cultural Association of Durham (CCCAD) in a new direction and try to make it relevant, registered general practice psychotherapist, Dr. Vidoll Regisford, reminded members they will have to reframe their thinking and step outside their comfort zone.
“You will be challenged to be relevant to an emerging and detached youth community unaware of the Caribbean and unabashed in speaking their minds about things related to the region,” he said in the keynote address at the organization’s launch last Saturday night at the Ontario Power Generation centre in Pickering. “It is the recognition, irrespective of how our forefathers arrived in the islands, that will give you a common focus.”
The CCCAD aims to unify the Black community in Durham through social, cultural, educational, economic, environmental, health and wellness initiatives.
Regisford, who is also the senior manager for partnerships and community development at George Brown College, said the organization’s achievements will be measured by its members’ ability to navigate self-interest, territorialism, inter-racial conflict and biases based on colour, pigmentation hair texture and inter-cultural classism.
“Your success will be determined by your ability to manage conflict and manage it well,” he said. “I commission you to forget not where you have come from and why you came to Canada and, as you succeed, you leave no one behind…Success leaves clues and your legacy will be in the lives you transformed.”
In its lengthy list of objectives, the CCCAD – among other things – was established to promote inclusiveness, engage in economic and trade initiatives between Canada and the Caribbean, assist newcomers in their transition in Canada, develop and foster school and community-based programs and offer humanitarian aid to countries in crisis.
“A recent report issued by Durham’s planning department states this region is becoming more culturally and ethnically diverse and, as the population of immigrants and visible minorities continues to grow at a rapid pace, we feel that it’s imperative that we encompass this growth with a message that fosters goodwill, understanding and tolerance among the composition of the Caribbean Diaspora,” said CCCAD president, Geraldine Wade-Brown.
“In other words, this is our time to open doors of opportunity for our children and to promote prosperity and the cause of peace. In order to do this effectively, we must work together to loosen the grip of obvious prejudices that have plagued us throughout our history. We must understand that, fundamentally, we have more similarities than differences.”
Trinidad & Tobago-born banking executive, Kandy Samsundar, conceived the idea for the organization.
“We have several Caribbean organizations in the Durham region that fund scholarships and assist communities and organizations back in the region,” said Samsundar, a Durham resident for the past 26 years. “I wanted to focus on the big picture and come up with something that would enhance trade between Canada and the Caribbean and create opportunities for small business owners in our community. The time has come for us to have a large collective voice.”
Samsundar is a senior manager at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and vice-president of the Ajax-Pickering Conservative Party.
Ajax councillor, Renrick Ashby, has thrown his support behind the new organization as the fundraising chair.
“In my capacity, different groups approach me all the time with various goals,” he said. “This one appealed to me because it addressed economic growth and empowerment in our community.”
The remaining CCCAD executive members are Rhonda Bennett (vice-president), Marcia Rodney (secretary) and Marcia Motayne (treasurer).
By RON FANFAIR