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Home: a single word that encapsulates so many emotions!

The word ‘home’ can be a complicated one, particularly for us as 2SLGBTQ+ people. Yet as we build our chosen families, community connections, or enjoy the beauty of knowing acceptance — home becomes a place associated with being seen, safe, and able to thrive. Sadly, this is far from the reality we see amongst refugee communities who arrive at our door, seeking safer havens.

Black History Month is an occasion to remember important people and events in Black history while celebrating the brilliance and contributions of Black communities amidst a deep-rooted global climate of anti-Blackness. It also draws our attention to the forceful displacement of Black communities, a recurring theme in Black history.

Over the span of 366 years, at least 15 million Black lives were violently uprooted through the trans-Atlantic slave trade. They were violently exploited, and their labour enslaved to build cities like Toronto. They were subjected to unimaginable suffering, and the resulting illness, loss of identity, and intergenerational impacts of this persists today.

Here on Turtle Island too, Black communities have historically been, and continue to be, pushed to the margins. For over 120 years, Africville in Nova Scotia was a vibrant, self-sufficient Black community that thrived despite being deprived of essential services like clean drinking water, due to anti-Black racism. In the 1960s, the government bulldozed Africville, forcing residents to relocate. Such examples of Canada’s painful history of colonial white supremacy have seldom been taught in schools, but the impact persists to this day. This displacement is still happening.

As Canada’s largest 2SLGBTQ+ community centre, we have witnessed present-day forceful displacement in the experiences of over 6000+ LGBTQ+ refugees, with over 3,200 more people awaiting supports. These folks have come from across the world to our doorstep, many of them Black. This is a 300% increase from 2022. They are fleeing violence and persecution for simply loving who they want or being who they are.

By acknowledging and addressing the history of forced displacement of Black communities and its ongoing impacts, we better understand how we must respond to the growing refugee crisis. Our Collective will continue advocating for the rights of Black LGBTQ+ refugees, but we need your support. Join us.

Black History Month is one of many opportunities to challenge narratives that victimize refugees and diminish their contributions; advocate for refugee rights; and fight the inequities that hinder people’s ability to lead enriched, authentic lives. One way to do this is donating to programs like ours that directly benefit refugee communities, and supporting our work of confronting anti-Black racism year-round, not just in February.

Our daily work with LGBTQ+ refugees reveals stories of resilience, joy, community, and the journey to liberated queerness, and that’s what this work is all about. It is a true privilege to witness new journeys of self-discovery and freedom.

The complexities of being Black are many, but most importantly:

Our Blackness is powerful.

Our Blackness is beautiful.

Our Blackness is resilient.

Our Blackness is joyful.

Our Blackness is ours.

Our Blackness is 365x24x7

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