OTTAWA – Minister Ahmed Hussen is Canada’s Minister of Diversity & Inclusion and Housing, he’s also one of the first Black MPs in Canada. He sat down with Brandon to mark Black History Month and explain why Black History education needs to be promoted in schools.
“The story of Black Canadians, which have been part of Canada’s story for over 400 years, cannot be limited to one month, it transcends February,” the minister said, explaining the theme of this year’s celebration.
“Look at someone like Viola Desmond. I didn’t find out about Viola Desmond’s story until much later in my life,” Hussen said, explaining that he didn’t learn about Desmond in high school, or his undergraduate studies, despite studying Canadian history.
“She precedes Rosa Parks by nine years. So I like to say that Rosa Parks is the United States’ Viola Desmond,” Hussen said.
The minister explained that while Black history education cannot be mandated federally as education is mandated provincially, he believes that the contributions Black Canadians have made to the country’s history should be integrated into the education system.
“And I think that all children need to learn this, not just Black children,” the minister explained, adding that studies show that children who receive a cultural education are more likely to be inclusive later in life.
When asked about his own contribution to Canada’s history as one of the first Black Members of Parliament, he says that it’s a great responsibility.
“I feel that I’m here to use my voice to make the necessary changes that include everyone. I can tell you for a fact that my being here improves the conversation, provides an additional perspective, and is a voice for a number of segments of our population,” the minister explained.
“We also have a Black Caucus, we didn’t have that before. And that has also made a difference in how our government approaches certain issues, how we respond to certain things,” the minister said.
“I think true progress will be when I’m not the second. Right now it’s Lincoln, myself, and Jean Augustine,” Hussen said, adding that we need more Black ministers and MPs in Canada.