While it’s great to strive to become a rapper or athlete, young black Canadians should not feel limited in the opportunities that await them. This was the message of Toronto-based author Dawn P. Williams, who spoke Feb. 20 at the launch of her book Who’s Who in Black Canada.
Highlighting the achievements of contemporary black men and women living above the 49th parallel, Who’s Who in Black Canada is an extended directory of 734 entries about noteworthy black Canadians from Newfoundland to British Columbia in a range of fields, from nursing to academia and activism.
“They were out there and needed to be documented,” said Williams, who feels that helping to aid communication between people who were making a difference was a significant part of the project.
Williams commented on the narrow portrayals of success within the black community in Canada. Her goal in writing the book is to change that, as well as emphasizing the often-ignored contributions made by black Canadians. Williams wanted to provide a resource from which the community can draw inspiration and pride, especially for the youth who might not be aware of the range of opportunities available to them. “Ideally, I’d like to see this book in schools,” Williams said.
The book is a new addition to the Atwater library’s specialty black history and culture collection that features many books by black authors and poets.
The event, set to coincide with Black History Month, also featured a dramatic reading by Williams of Dr. Dolores Sandoval’s play Coloured Pictures in Family Frames which documents the playwright’s multi-cultural family history in North America.