As we celebrate Black History Month and the contributions of Black Canadians, Ascend Canada members share the importance of being an ally. Not just this month, but throughout the year.

“Understanding and celebrating Black history is an issue close to my heart. Whether it’s Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, the Obamas or the millions of Black voices that continue to fight for equality. It’s important that as Pan-Asian allies we listen, learn from them and amplify their voices. So that hopefully in our lifetimes we can do our best to eradicate systemic racism in all aspects of our personal and professional lives.”

– Farah Qasemi, Ascend Canada Board Member

“Being a good ally is recognizing that it’s a title earned, not self-proclaimed. Being in solidarity is what we strive for; but ultimately, it is the choice of those we are attempting to ally with, to determine whether they trust us enough to call us an ally.”

– Tazrian Alam, Ascend Canada Volunteer

“Recently, I read about Jean Augustine, Canada’s first black woman in Parliament who was also responsible for putting forward the unanimously passed motion in 1995 to celebrate February as Black History Month. She pushed the need for us to take note of the important contributions of Black Canadians in the growth and development of the country as well as recognize the diversity of the black community here. While it’s great to be able to look back and see how far we have come, it’s also a sobering reminder of the work that still needs to be done on equity and inclusion.”

Gaurav Upadhya, Ascend Canada Board Member

“Being an ally is the most meaningful when it’s done in action. For me, it’s actively calling out behaviours within my personal and professional network that further enforce racism and discrimination; sponsoring BIPOC colleagues for new roles and supporting BIPOC students as they enter the workforce and investing in ideas and businesses owned by members of the BIPOC community. It’s important to find your personal reason and unique way to be an ally. And however you choose to do so – be active, intentional and consistent.”

– Arthi Venkat, Ascend Canada Volunteer

“Being an ally is not a once and done.  It’s an ongoing process of self-educating to increase awareness, building relationships, listening and taking thoughtful and bold action by speaking up.”

– Pragashini Fox, Ascend Canada Board Member