Yes, Defunding the police seems an absolutely radical thought. Perhaps it is radical if you have only joined the conversation after George Floyd. Back in 2018 the Ontario government announced their response to social issues by investing an additional $25 million in funding for the police force. “Boots on the ground” they called it. Systemic racism has always existed within the police force. Therefore ask yourself when there is an increased police presence on the streets and in our schools who is impacted the most?
While we have seen police funding increased we have seen social services funding get reduced. Mental health services, arts and culture programs, many of which address the social issues from a prevention angle go largely un- or underfunded. Many organizations that work with marginalized communities are forced to compete with each other for the token funding available.
If you’re serious about solving social problems… giving the police more money is clearly not the solution. That is why Bring on the Sunshine has been intentional about engaging with the youth of our community in ways that build them up, support them, and give them a place to belong. They get to celebrate something they may have previously seen as a burden, their Africanness. Many of our kids and families have had run ins with the police and social services because of cultural differences, that neither agency has the competency to deal with. Why should we expect them to? And why wouldn’t you compensate the organisations who have both expertise and track record?
Through our education programs in schools, Africa Camp each summer, our youth leadership program or our annual African festival we are looking for ways to establish a sense of identity and hope in our youth, to find common ground through our celebration of diverse cultures, and the willingness to learn and listen. Our children should not have to work hard to find positive associations of their culture and skin color. They should not have to find their way in a system and a society that stigmatizes them based on their skin colour.
We want to see everyone in the Black community given the opportunity to magnificently thrive, on our own terms.
We are in full support of redirecting funds from a system that has oppressed the black experience.
Alice Penny, C.E.O.
Jacqui Terry-Carroll, Chair
Bring on the Sunshine Board and leadership team.
African Youth Leadership program finds new leadership in Alice Penny, local community activist. Bring on the Sunshine African Festival has run for 8 years and has grown and prospered. Each year, over 5000 people of diverse origins celebrate their differences in a one day dindindi (African family Party!) right here at Kitchener City Hall on Family day in February.
In fact, its next stage of growth is to transition Alice Penny to the role of Festival Director, whilst Jacqui moves into an Operations role.
While the festival is an amazing day of fun for family and friends during the dark month of February, it has an important role in providing mentorship and leadership opportunities for young people aged 18 – 35 years old who come from marginalized and often diverse communities. After migrating to North America for College Alice Penny has first hand experience and can relate to youth struggling to see themselves as leaders in a world that often does not see that in them.
Penny says, “The festival provides a wonderful platform for folks whose voices are often not heard, and whose faces are not seen in the wider community as well as celebrating the best of our African cultures! However I see the Festival’s role as being more than a great day out for the family – but a chance for our youth to shine. My goal is continue to grow and develop opportunities for our youth as we enhance the festival through our creative and community partnerships.”
Alice commented “The first big change is that we are moving the event from Monday to Sunday – it gives us more freedom to expand the event AND our volunteers get a day off before heading back to work or school!” Alice Penny has been a core team member of the event from year one, and brings many years of training and experience in Finance and accounting as well as community development to the role.
Terry states, “ The community has really owned this event, which started out in a church basement 10 years ago. I’m so excited to continue supporting our youth from a different spot – and thrilled to see how far we can go with this event – our 10 year anniversary is in 2020, so expect great things! We know the community loves this event – so now we need the community to stand behind us and support us financially through sponsorships to find the funds to support it – we would like to raise $10,000 in sponsorships to make it continue to work! ”
Bring on the Sunshine is a community organization hosting a Family day Festival, celebrating Africa, Culture, community and Family during Black History Month and a week long day camp in the summer, called Africa Camp designed to share in the riches of all of our African cultures with youthful Canadians of every origin with a direct focus on those of African heritage. We work closely with the K-W Multicultural Center and with Adventure for Change. These organizations do exceptional work with newcomers and youth in our region. Giving them roots so they can grow wings!