Canada's First Black Senator

Canada's First Black Senator

Anne Cools says racial diversity in government is still a 'big order'

Anne Cools, Canada’s first Black senator, says there’s still too many racial barriers for aspiring politicians of colour to overcome and that getting more diverse representation in government is a challenge. She says anyone looking to get into politics is driven by something she understands deeply. “They have a hope that somehow or the other, they can get through all these difficulties,” Cools said, noting they’ll have a fighting chance if they “hold on to the ground” on issues they’re passionate about. However, she warns political newcomers to hold their constituents above their own personal aspirations. She says if they do that, they’ll succeed. Born in Barbados, Cools moved to Canada with her family in 1957, when she was a teenager and grew up in Montreal. During her younger years, Cools and dozens of others occupied Sir George Williams University – now Concordia University – to protest against the alleged racist treatment of six Black students in 1969. She was arrested and charged with willful obstruction and went on to serve four months in jail. Her vindication would take decades, with her being pardoned in 1981. After several failed attempts to enter public office, Cools spent 1980-84 serving on the National Parole Board of Canada. That was until she was nominated to the Senate by then-prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Before her, no Black Canadian had ever served in the Senate. She cited her work with domestic violence survivors as the reason Trudeau sought her out.Cools founded Women in Transition in Toronto in 1974 -- one of Canada’s first shelters for female victims of violence. She was involved with the agency for nearly two decades. She retired in 2018 shortly before her 75th birthday, and was the longest serving senator at the time.

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https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/canada-s-first-black-senator-says-racial-diversity-in-government-still-a-big-order-1.5794727

 


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