Faith And Hope Equals Righteousness

“For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” Galatians 5:5

Have you ever had to wait for something and it took forever to come? Christmas comes to mind. For many of us who celebrated Christmas as children, there is no other day as magical. You didn’t know where all the gifts were going to come from, but you were sure they were going to be under the tree come Christmas morning. That hope and faith we had as children is priceless. It is the very reason Christ tells us in one of his many lessons, to be a child for the Kingdom. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Faith is required to live a life of power, and it is especially required to live a life of righteousness. This is the exact reason the bible tells us, “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

READ MORE: For law or for relationship (part III)

In case you didn’t celebrate Christmas as children, here is another biblical analogy on waiting for something. Do you recall the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25:1-13?

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him! Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out. ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us! But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Matthew 25:1-13

These virgins were waiting for the bridegroom, but they didn’t know when he was coming. It seemed they were waiting all night, so much so that they fell asleep. He didn’t come at 8pm when they were really expecting him, and he didn’t even come at 11pm – the time when they must have fallen asleep. This is when they realized they needed more oil to wait any longer. Since they waited all this time, what’s the harm in running down to the 24hr store to get the oil? Truly, they had lots of time. But, somewhere around 11pm and midnight the Bridegroom showed up. The hour he was least expected. And only the wise virgins were there. They had been eagerly waiting – in fact they came prepared in faith, knowing that even if they had to wait all night, He would come. That is true, unrelenting faith at work. These wise virgins were so eager that they were unwilling to give up their resources for fear that they would miss the hour. In the end, the wise virgins went in with Him to the wedding banquet. They received the righteousness they were hoping for.

That kind of waiting cannot be done by the flesh. Without the Spirit, those virgins would have given up a long time ago. Many of us don’t even like to wait in traffic or lines at the bank. I know I suffer from impatience and I get all worked up counting all the things I could be doing instead of standing in line. My impatience translate to being grumpy, rude, easily irritated. I don’t even like myself when I behave like that. So, I don’t think I would put myself in the feet of any of the 10 virgins. The difference with the wise and the foolish, was that the wise had extra oil. With or without the oil, I would have been cranky. I would have been asking questions, banging on the door… You get the picture. But, with the Spirit of Christ, who gives us patience, faith, and hope, I would be able to be like the wise virgins.

READ MORE: For law or for relationship (part II)

Faith is a beautiful gift. This is a gift downloaded in us by the Holy Spirit and it is this gift that gives thus the immense ability to wait. Children don’t realize that this is the gift they are using when they are waiting for Christmas to come. So eager, so full of faith, and hope. Oh, if we could become children again. What is to come, and what is to be downloaded is us, is far greater than waiting for Christmas. We cannot get weary, and we cannot loose hope. The Bridegroom is coming and He is looking for those who have been filled with righteousness. Be prepared with your oil, and stay awake, because the wedding banquet is a one time opporunity that we don’t want to miss. So, let’s wait in the spirit by faith and hope for this righteousness.

African Canadian Social Development Council Fights Against Anti-Black Racism

The fight against anti-Black and systemic racism continues in our African-Canadian communities. On Thursday, August 20, 2020 the African Canadian Social Development Council (ACSDC) – Toronto held a rally at the Toronto City Hall, and invited guest speakers within the African circle of social justice, academic, political, and criminal justice to speak on the issues that affect our communities, and to give us a message of hope. The event commenced with the sound of drumming, a symbolic African tradition that accompanies every ceremony. The purpose of this rally  can be summed up in the words of the President of the ACSDC, Nene (Chief) Kabu Asante, “The system has to change. We can’t breath and it’s killing us slowly. We need the city, the province and federal government to invest more in our communities…” These words, “We can’t breath” echoed from the African-American man, Mr. George Floyd who died by the hands of police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota, earlier this year on May 25, 2020.   

READ MORE: There is hope

3 men drumming, fighting against anti-black racism

The ACSDC is an umbrella organization for all African-Canadian community agencies and cultural organizations in Ontario. One such organization is the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario (SCAGO). The founder and president, Ms. Lanre Tunji-Ajayi states, “Far too long, people of African descent and the black community have been stigmatized and racialized. We must rise with our voices, our pens, and papers, and demand a change from systemic racism.” SCAGO has been advocating, educating, and building awareness about sickle cell since 2005. “Three years ago, when I came to study in Canada, I was paralyzed because of my sickle cell, leaving me unable to use my hands and legs. I was a quadriplegic, who needed life support,” says, Ms. Oluwayemisi Abatan, who is now a supporter of SCAGO. As a result of this organization advocating for her health, Abatan can now walk and take care of herself. Systemic racism, in our health care system, affects patients who are of African or Caribbean descent because quality care may be withheld, and without proper advocacy, may result in death.  

This is the reason the ACSDC has organized this Anti-Black Racism rally because Black Lives Matter in health care, in our school systems, in our criminal justice system, in our work places, and in all segment of our communities. “…The fact that systemic racism is not as prevalent in Canada does not mean it does not exist here” says Mr. George Chuku, TV host of Afro global television & VP Nigerian Canadian Association. “We have to create a level playing field for everyone to succeed, because only a few privilege successes is guaranteed, while others are struggling. We are asking to be treated fairly.”

MPP Faisal Hassan speaking, fighting against anti-black racism

MPP Faisal Hassan of York-South Weston reminds us that, “Racism is rooted in all structures of government, and that the experiences of the Caribbean, African, and all immigrants should be taught in schools.” He further stated, “there is discrimination based on postal code, such as auto-insurance, because we are targeted where we live. It must end.”   

READ MORE: Mandela, Floyd, apartheid, uprisings, and unrest

The agenda had many other speakers such as: Professor George Sefa Dei (UofT), Lawyer Eyitayo F. Dada (President of the Canadian Nigerian Lawyers Association, Francois Yabit (Executive Director Northwood Neighbourhood, Toronto, Shamso Elmi (Mending the Crack in the Sky, Co-organizers), and Rocco Achampong, Defence lawyer and civil rights activist.  Achampong expressed a resounding sentiment in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “We must…be the change (we) wish to see in the world.” To make change he says, “We must come with clean hands.” 

These protests have been consistent within the Canadian black, African and Caribbean communities due to the death of Mr. Floyd earlier this year. Today, it was the African Canadian Social Development Council and the different agencies and organizations it represents, speaking out to our governments, and echoing the words of Mr Floyd, “We can’t breath.” The ACSDC is calling on the city, the province and the federal government to stop systemic racism, increase funding in the black communities, stop targeting our neighbourhoods, and give us quality health care, including increase funding for sickle cell disease.         

For law or for relationship? (Part III)

“You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Galatians 5:4

The two are not one. That is, choosing the law is in essence rejecting a relationship with Christ. All this time, I imagined that our choices are ours, and they lead to the same end. Yet, I hear Paul saying something different. That is, we really have no other choice but to choose relationship over the law. And it makes sense to me given the fact that Christ came all this way to earth to die that we should live; but instead of saying yes, we continue with our laws and traditions, because that’s what we know. But, Galatians 5:4 says, grace and law cannot co-exist. Let’s put it this way, “and if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6.

READ MORE: PART I

Do you remember the time when Jesus Christ walked into the synagogue and turned over the table? Let BBQ refresh your memory:

BBQ the meeting house

I can see how the people in the synagogue would look at Jesus as a crazy (and rebellious) person. Why? Well, He just mixed up their money making schemes! And the sad part is that they didn’t see what they were doing. In their eyes, gambling in the house of God became acceptable. But, not so in God’s eyes. Christ came to get rid of these old ways of thinking. His action of turning over the table, was a symbolism for what He would later do on the cross, turn our worlds upside down.

We live our lives with such carelessness. The bible tells us that the birds know how to live with no care for tomorrow. But, this isn’t the same kind of carelessness we exhibit. The birds know where their help comes from. All of nature knows who their creator is, and they hardly deviate from what they are made for. But, humans on the other hand, we find all kinds of ways to go against the goodness that is inside of us. Rather than love, we choose hate. Rather than purity, we choose promiscuity. Rather than peace, we choose war. You see, this doesn’t happen in the animal kingdom. Having recently watched Mowgli, The Legend of the Jungle (a Disney animation), I got a sense that the animals don’t kill their own unless they have to. “Killing is not a sport,” the Panther told Mowgli. The animals kill to eat for their survival. Humans have gone against the nature of why we were created. We are callous about life, and we kill for sport! We, the ones who should be caretaker of this great planet, act like it’s not ours to care for. It’s like we have a mask over our eyes, maybe because we are desensitized by media. We do not know who we are. We are lost, unfocused, and we live for this world. We live with no realization that we have power.

I say all that because maybe if we knew whose we are, the one who made us, then we wouldn’t have too much trouble making a distinction between being obedient to the law versus allegiance to our Creator. This takes time. I mean do you give honour to the pottery for creating itself? No, you choose to honour the one who made the pottery. Likewise, we worship the one who made us. Through worship, we acknowledge that we have a Maker. Through worship we draw close to Him. When we do that, we also get closer to who we are. Only the Maker knows the purpose of all His creation. We spend a lot of time trying to find ourselves. We look in the caves, we look in the books, we look to Hollywood stars…and we call them idols! Yet, we never think to look above, or maybe within. Seek Him, and He will be found. Let’s be honest, God is always right there, and we know it. It takes a terrible accident…you know when we have no other choice, to call on God. And what’s amazing is that He answers every time. He is always there, waiting for His children to acknowledge Him.

READ MORE: PART II

That’s what makes it difficult for God when we decide to choose the law. We are moving away from Him, and towards these idols. We follow scrolls of words or traditions that say do this, and do that. Yet, we don’t always connect the dots. As such, the law alienates us from Christ. That’s just it. The law makes us think we are good and our ability to do the right thing makes us have no need for grace. You don’t need grace when you feel you are justified by your actions. What happens when your works can no longer justify you? You know the day you make that terrible mistake? That one mistake that cause you to run far away from God and you live in isolation from Him. If you knew Him, you would know this, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3. Why do we decide to run away when we do something wrong? (Adam and Eve did this, Judas did this, Jacob did this). It’s natural. The truth is though, we run because we do not know that Christ have died for that reason. He already knew that we would fall, and that’s why he made sure that grace will always lift us up. Because, it has never been our deeds that saved us, and the most amazing thing is that it never will be.

Do not fall from grace. Without grace, we will no longer have purpose to live. We can not trust ourselves, our laws, or our religion to save us. Our reminder is that, Christ died for us…so that we will be free, so that we do not have to trust in our good works. So that we do not need the law.

Carleton criminology department cuts ties with police, prisons

Written by: Stu Mills, CBC, on Aug 12, 2020

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/carleton-criminology-police-ottawa-1.5683717

Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice (ICCJ) is ending all student internships with police forces and prisons next year.

In a statement released earlier this week, the ICCJ said the move is part of an effort to reform the department in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Faculty at the ICCJ take these calls to action seriously,” according to the statement.

Typically, some 80 third-year year criminology students are given internships with Ottawa police, the RCMP, Correctional Service Canada and the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

Professor Jeffrey Monaghan said those institutions have done too little to acknowledge systemic racism and work to eliminate “anti-Black and anti-Indigenous sentiments, practices and policies.”

“They’ve given lip service to reform, and that reform hasn’t happened,” said Monaghan.

Some 80 third-year students from Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice take part in internships with the Ottawa Police Service, RCMP, Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre and other institutions each year. That will end in 2021. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

“I think we’re at a moment that we can reflect on that promise, and I think we can say that it’s been largely a failure,” he said, pointing out recent remarks from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and her initial denial of the existence of systemic racism in Canadian policing as a turning point.

“We’re saying that action has to be made. We can’t maintain these relationships until we see action and we’re waiting to see that action,” Monaghan said.

Placements began in 1973

The internships have been a part of Carleton’s criminology program since 1973. Placements with police and correctional institutions make up about five to eight per cent of all placements.

Monaghan said that will come to an end in 2021 as the department rethinks how to address systemic racism and colonialism.

“The status quo is no longer an acceptable position to stay in,” he said.

Monaghan acknowledged the potential positive role that young people, energized by the Black Lives Matter movement, might have in changing the culture of police agencies during their work placements, but he said it was unrealistic to continue to believe that meaningful change would come from within those institutions.

He also rejected the view that the academic department was abandoning a chance to build important ties with Ottawa police, now under the command of a man of colour who has promised reform.

“The door is still open. We’re still engaged in all kinds of different ways,” Monaghan said.

Carleton’s ICCJ will create a new curriculum with anti-racism and an acknowledgement of colonialism at its centre.

Two new $1,000 student bursaries for Black, Indigenous and other racialized students working in criminology will be available this year. Two more bursaries of the same amount are being earmarked for students working in social justice initiatives that address racism and colonialism in the criminal justice system. 

‘The door is still open. We’re still engaged in all kinds of different ways,” said Carleton criminology professor Jeffrey Monaghan. (Submitted)

“I can definitely see how ending the placements with those institutions could be a form of that protest”, said 4th-year student Chanel Hepworth. “On the other hand … front-line involvement in these sectors by university students could assist with reform.”

Though she completed placements last year with law firms, she doubted students working with police or correctional institutions would have much influence or success changing the institutional culture there. Hepworth said she supports the department’s decision.

Ottawa police did not respond in time for publication.

For law or for relationship? (Part II)

“Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.” Galatians 5:3

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

I love that we always have a choice when it comes to God. The choice to obey the law or the choice to obey Christ. It might seem like the same thing, but apparently it’s not. Even if the law may lead us to Christ, it is more restricting than choosing to follow Him. But, we need tangible rules to follow, don’t we? Remember when the Israelites wanted a king instead of choosing to follow God? According to 1 Samuel 8:6, “Give us a king to lead us” the people asked the priest, Samuel. God told Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:7, “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” This is equivalent to choosing the law over a relationship with Christ, the one who made the law. In essence, our fallible, humanistic nature wants something we are able to see. Whether it comes as laws or kings, it is much easier for the mind to feel a bit of control over the uncontrollable things. So, God says, every man who lets himself be circumcised … is obligated to obey the whole law.”

It seems to be that simple, but the trouble is that like the king, the law will strangle us to our demise. “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.

READ MORE ON GALATIANS 5: FOR LAW OR FOR RELATIONSHIP (PART 1)

What are the obligations of choosing the Law?

This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.

1 Samuel 8: 11-17

For these reasons, choosing the law or choosing a king, is saying yes to the fallible nature of humans. A king will never be merciful, just, and righteous like God. The law requires someone to uphold it, therefore it becomes more like a yoke, because it has a tendency to take away our rights, and to treat everyone the same. It is a burden that we are not meant to carry. This was the reason we needed Christ to come and die for us. God knew the day would come when we would cry out to him. “Then that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day” (1 Samuel 8:18). He already knows what we can bear, and He gave us choices. Yet it is His personal advice to us to choose relationship with Christ, rather than choosing the Law. Again, if you choose the law, you have to obey ALL of it. But, God says, there is a better way. Choose relationship with God. Because, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” It’s that simple.

Finally, Christ “…did not come to abolish (the law), but to fulfill (it)” (Matthew 5:17). The beauty of all of this is, the law pointed to Christ all along. And he summed it up for us this way, “...love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27). In other words, since the beginning of time, all God has ever wanted from us is relationship. He wants us to make the choice to love Him, not the Law.  

For law or for relationship?

“Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all!” Galatians 5:2

Have you ever being told to do things because “it was the law?” or “this is what we do?” But never understood the reason for doing so? I am reminded of a story about a wife, whose husband asked her why she cut part of the turkey before baking it. Her response was, “that’s the way mom did it.” She decided to call her mom, and her mom told her the same thing, “thats how mom did it.” Luckily, great-grand mom was alive and when they asked her, she told them that it was because the turkey was too big for the pot she used for the oven. It’s an interesting story, how we take to traditions, even when circumstances have changed. The writer of Galatians 5, Paul the Apostle, is making it very clear that circumcision is like the woman cutting off the end of the turkey, when the times didn’t call for it. That is, even though circumcision was a pledge to live by the rule of Law, Christ came so that we should have relationship with him and not with the law.

When we lack understanding of what we do, we simply build up yokes between us and Christ. Yokes are no good because they put a strain on the relationship we have with Christ. For that reason alone, Paul is warning us, “…if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all.” The yoke in this verse refers to the Law. When Paul talks about circumcision, it was a tradition that was done by every Jewish boy. Acts 15:10 says it this way, “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?” Being tied up to the Law makes us a bit like a robot. We do not have to use our god-given ability to make choices because the law tells us what we say, what we wear, and what we do. Does that sound familiar?

Photo by John Ray Ebora from Pexels

I have spent a better part of my teenage and young adult life as a Pentecostal Apostolic. Since the day I was baptized, I felt as if I had to put on a yoke of religion. The women wore hats, no pants, no jewelry, and attended church 2 to 3 times a week. No, this wasn’t normal, but when you started building relationships with the people, you’d be surprised to see how natural it was to follow the rules. You stop questioning your every thought about what you like, and replace them with what is expected. You go shopping and have to ask yourselves, what would sister so and so think when I buy this sleeve-less dress? It was a subtle way of conforming sinners to saints. But, it lasted as long as the relationships you developed lasted. In other words, once you have broken ties because of circumstances like university, or travelling or moving to a new city, those same unanswered questions begin to pop up again. Do you do the same things, even when circumstances change?

See Part II: For Freedom, He died

Robots do not think, but people do. Thoughts lead to choices, choices lead to decisions. We get to make decisions as humans because we are free. “For freedom, Christ has set us free.” Therefore, since we have been set free, Paul feels that it is important that we do not become circumcised again. Why? Christ will not be of any benefit, Paul says. My thought is that, since the Law tells us what to do, we have no need to come to God in prayer. One thing we could bring to God in prayer for instance would be the clothes we wear. Instead of listening to what a religious sect tells us; do this, and do not do that, we would be able to exercise our freedom in Christ. We can ask him what to wear [This is a basic example about clothing, but it goes for any part of our lives that concerns us]. Christ who thrives in relationship, would be all too happy to share in this aspect of our lives, and together come up with something that is both appropriate and uniquely us. This is what He does with us, if we let him, if we let go off the yokes that burdens us, and allow for relationship with the one who gives freedom.

For Freedom, He died (Part II)

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

The maintenance personnel (“Jim”) at Centennial Park is kind of like Christ. Jim went out of his way to let out the baby raccoon out of the garbage bin. The reason he did so was because he knew that the poor little rodent couldn’t do it himself. The raccoon may have strong climbing legs, but they couldn’t help him. Jim didn’t rescue the raccoon because he was good and deserved it, he did it because it was a choice. Likewise, Jesus Christ came to earth to save us. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” Ephesians 2:8-9. It’s straightforward; we need Christ because that is how we gain our freedom. We can’t navigate ourselves through this world of sin, turmoil, and uncertainties. So, we trust the one who can give us this freedom.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Freedom means we get to live, thrive, be our best selves, and not worry about uncontrollable, or uncertain things. There are times in my life when I never understood the meaning of that freedom. We have all been teenagers and some of us have had to listen to domineering parents. Can you imagine what that feels like? Yes, it’s restrictive. If Christ is anything like earthly parents, he sets up rules and makes us have to obey them. How is that free? These are the very rules that makes one want to get the heck out of the garden, house or country! We have an inclination for just wanting to do what we want to do. Surely, this is the better definition of freedom.

See Part One: Recused from bondage.

The baby raccoon would agree that it had the right to go looking for food anywhere. But, even though no one will restrict this rodent, could there be a better way to hunt for food, without the possibility of being stuck? Or was it okay to take the risk, and hope for the best? Surely, that was the raccoon’s right! None of us want to feel stuck. It makes us feel scared and anxious. So, while we want to have the right to do what we feel is best for ourselves, there are many risks out there that we can’t get away from. We get trapped because of our own actions. It was for these reasons, Christ died for us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16. In other words, Christ knew we were going to get stuck over and over again and because of that, he gave himself for our freedom. Imagine that!

Jesus Christ knew we had free choice, as the Lord God gave it to us. Jesus even knows we do not want anyone to hinder our choices. And so he gave himself as a sacrifice, bearing every sin that we could ever experience, and became that mediator for us. That way, we won’t have to stay in the garbage bin forever. Instead, like the raccoon, each time we fall in the garbage bin, Jim comes in and make a way for our escape. If there is no Jim, we are stuck forever. Our lives come to an end, and we die in our own mistakes. And who wants to die because you’re trying to survive? Freedom therefore goes with a sacrifice. Christ had to sacrifice his life, so that we can be free. Now, he gives us a charge, To Stand firm.

Christ expects us to learn from our mistakes. Not for his good, but for our own good. Not because he won’t rescue us. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. It’s a burden on us when we make mistakes, and can’t get out. It breaks our spirits, it makes us feel ashamed, it beats us down emotionally, and we become stressed, anxiety ridden, and depressed. One mistake, or the feeling of being stuck, can cause us to have a lifetime of poor choices, even feeling afraid to take other risks. So, in fact it’s for our gain that we STAND firm in our new knowledge, that is, actually the reason Christ died for us. We are just like baby raccoons who are in need of rescuing because we will always get stuck, at some point or other in our lives. While we might not see Jim, know that it was he who held the bin down, and shook us out, whether or not we took the time to acknowledge him. Likewise, whether we knew that it was Christ who freed us from sin, because of him, we are free.

Meet Ayo

My name is Ayo Adetuberu, the Principal at Adetuberu Law Office. I am a licensed lawyer with the Law Society of Ontario and Nigerian Bar Association. I realized early the power that comes with the knowledge of law. I wanted to be equipped with that knowledge and make it accessible to all. My core practice areas are Real Estate, Immigration, and Family Law. My family law practice is mainly focused on assisting low-income earners and victims of domestic abuse and guiding them through the legal process. I am involved with different organizations to achieve this, one of which is the Luke’s Place, a centre for change devoted solely to improving the safety and experience of abused women and children as they proceed through the family law process.

My practice is built on 3 core values: Creative Solutions, Competitive Pricing and Client Satisfaction. I empathize well with people from different backgrounds. At Adetuberu Law, we understand that our role is to look after our clients and their best interests, and we take that role seriously. It is with utmost respect and dedication in which we serve you. The quickest way to reach me is through my email: ayo@adetuberulaw.com.

For more information, you can also visit my website.

Solidarity and hope: OPSEU recommits to ending anti-Black racism

By: https://opseu.org/news/solidarity-and-hope-opseu-recommits-to-ending-anti-black-racism/108616/

In a high-profile step towards true equality in the workplace and in the union, thousands of OPSEU members and staff participated in the union’s July 7 telephone town halls on anti-Black racism.

“Systemic racism is real. It is deadly. And it has to stop,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas at the beginning of the meeting. “The good news is that we can stop it. Working together, we can help build a foundation for a new way of thinking, and a new way of acting.”

The town halls were just one element in OPSEU’s strong recommitment to the fight against anti-Black racism, and gave members and staff a chance to share their stories, questions, and concerns. Members and staff are encouraged to continue submitting their stories and recommendations by emailing them to antiblackracism@opseu.org.

The town halls, which were held in two sessions to accommodate members’ schedules, were moderated by well-known personality and anti-Black racism activist Farley Flex. He was joined by a panel of Black OPSEU members and staff, President Thomas and OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida.

“My life hasn’t always been easy and I’ve had to overcome a lot. But I’ve never had to overcome the systemic racism that Black people face,” said Almeida. “I’ve seen it firsthand. I’m a Correctional Officer, and I can tell you that that there are too many Black and Indigenous Peoples in our jails.”

Thomas and Almeida finished the town halls with strong commitments to read and reflect on all of the questions and comments from members and staff and report back soon with plans for concrete action, including more education and investment.

“Today marks OPSEU’s renewal of our vow to eradicate Anti-Black Racism. We know we haven’t always gotten it right.  But we hear you,” said Thomas. “We promise you that we’ll never let up. One thing about this union: we never give up.”

Fred Upshaw

Thomas, Almeida, their fellow panelists, and the members and staff who asked questions made it clear that there’s still much work to be done to eliminate anti-Black racism in the workplaces where OPSEU represents members and in the union itself.

As a union strongly committed to social justice, OPSEU members have often led the fight against systemic racism. Former President Fred Upshaw became the first Black person to lead a major Canadian union when he was elected in 1990.

Joscelyn Ross

Panelist Joscelyn Ross, an OPSEU health and safety officer, said a concrete action that all workers can do is think about anti-Black racism as a health and safety issue: document it, and grieve it.

“I encourage conversation with your health and safety rep to look at racism and microaggressions in the workplace, which can lead to psychosocial stress,” said Ross, who was an OPSEU member for more than 20 years before joining its staff in 2016. “When you can demonstrate to the employer that employees are facing stress due to workplace discrimination, you can then say, ‘Here’s our evidence and we need to talk about this because you have an obligation to provide the safest workplace possible.’”

Many of the comments and questions from members focused on what OPSEU can do to support members – particularly young workers — who feel afraid to speak up about discrimination in the workplace, whether it’s being passed over for promotions or outright harassment.

Shauna-Kay Cassell

“I know what it’s like to be a young worker and to stay silent. But if something feels wrong, it probably is. Trust your gut. Now is not the time to be silent,” said panelist Shauna-Kay Cassell, a Local 526 member. “And remember that there are many things protecting you, from laws like the Ontario Human Rights Code to your collective agreement and your union. They all help protect you.”


Carlotta Ewing

Panelist Carlotta Ewing, a Local 228 member, added that members facing or witnessing racism can always call on their Local President or their staff rep for guidance, assurance, and advice.

“With OPSEU, you have so many resources and so much expertise to help you,” said Ewing. “Equity, communications, campaigns, legal, grievances. This union has so much to support you. And it’s yours – use it.”

Peter Thompson

Panelist Peter Thompson, who is the chair of the OPSEU Coalition for Racialized Workers (CoRW), said that as long as he’s been a member, the union has been at the forefront of the fight against racism, whether it’s been through sensitivity training for members and staff or through ambitious projects like social mapping.

“I see all kinds of corporations and organizations coming out now with statements against racism, but I’m proud to say that OPSEU and the Coalition of Racialized Workers have been making these statements and doing anti-racism work for years,” said Thompson. “If you want to know more about what the union and coalition are doing, ask your local presidents – the more they share this information, the better.”

Evan Wickham

Panelist Evan Wickham, who sits on the OPSEU Provincial Young Workers Committee (PYC), echoed Thompson’s point that, in many ways, OPSEU’s locals are on the front-lines of this struggle.

“The murder of George Floyd has roused a lot of us and given us opportunity to be heard,” said Wickham. “OPSEU is a member-driven union. We have a lot of support as members, so let’s step forward and keep voicing our concerns and filing our grievances. That’s how we make the most of this opportunity.”

Along with the members’ locals and the CoRW, OPSEU’s dedicated Equity Unit is another source of information and support for members.

Andrea McCormack

“We’ll never leave you to stand on your own in the fight against racism,” said panelist Andrea McCormack, a long-time OPSEU staff rep who is temporarily reassigned as an Employment Equity Lead in the Employee Relations Division. “This is the first of many conversations that OPSEU will have. Make sure you’re part of it because the support from the union’s leadership is strong. OPSEU is committed to amplifying our voices.”

Flex finished the town hall by asking the panelists for a few final thoughts. They were all moving (you can find them here on Twitter), but Cassell summed it up beautifully:

“I’ll finish with four thoughts,” said Cassell. “One: Speak up, especially if you’re a young worker. Two: Know your rights, you have a lot of them. Three: Find a champion, there are many in OPSEU. Four, and this might be the most important: be hopeful. Change is inevitable, but progress is up to us. And I believe we can make progress.”

Anti-Black Racism Resources & Feedback

We encourage all members and staff to continue sharing their stories and recommendations by emailing them to antiblackracism@opseu.org.

Shauna’s Published Work

Conversation with Angie Thomas about her new book On the Come Up

By Toronto CaribbeanShauna-Kay Casselltorontocaribbean.com — BY: SHAUNA-KAY CASSELL Writers at the Rose, the newest addition to the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) held their reading series on Monday, February 25th, 2019, at the Rose Theatre in Brampton, in partnership with The Rose Theatre and the Brampton Library. The featured writer, and a New York best-selling author, Angie Thomas, gave an interview about her second book, On the Come Up, with Amanda Parris.

Black History Month Series Media Launch: Showcasing the TD Black Diamond Ball

By Toronto CaribbeanShauna-Kay Casselltorontocaribbean.com — Photo by: Mitchel Raphael BY: SHAUNA-KAY CASSELL The TD Bank Group has teamed up with ArtXperiential Projects to put together Toronto’s Fourth Annual TD Black Diamond Ball to be held on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019, in celebration of Black History Month. This luxurious event is one of many cultural events in the Black History Month series, that was highlighted at the Black History Month Media Launch held on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019, at the A Different Booklist in Toronto.

The Honorable Mr. Justice Donald Mcleod received the Inaugural Martin Luther King Award at the 20th Anniversary MLK Celebration

By Toronto CaribbeanShauna-Kay Casselltorontocaribbean.com — Photo by: David Spencer -DSi Fun Photos BY: SHAUNA-KAY CASSELL The Honorable Mr. Justice Donald Mcleod received the Inaugural Martin Luther King Award on Saturday, January 12th, 2019 at the 20th Anniversary Martin Luther King Celebration held at Apple Creek Community Church, in Markham, Ontario. Over a thousand attendees gathered for the free celebration.

Paba Cosmetics Inc.: The New Make-up Brand for Women of Color in Canada

By Toronto CaribbeanShauna-Kay Casselltorontocaribbean.com — BY: SHAUNA-KAY CASSELL Paba Cosmetics Incorporated, a local make-up line established in 2001, was made for women of color by creator and CEO, Felicia Sarpong. Now, Paba Cosmetics has three storefronts; two in Ghana (Accra and Kumasi), and one in Toronto. As the true entrepreneur that she is, Sarpong saw a problem; women of colour were not wearing their correct undertone.

Canadian Kwanzaa Association celebrates the first Kwanzaa week in Canada at  Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto

By Toronto CaribbeanShauna-Kay Casselltorontocaribbean.com — BY: SHAUNA-KAY CASSELLOn January 1st, 2019, the Canadian Kwanzaa Association (CKA) celebrated Kwanzaa, the Pan-African holiday, at Nathan Philips Square in Toronto for the first time; making it the first Canadian proclamation for Kwanzaa week in Canada’s history. The Toronto 3D Sign lit up in red, black and green, representing the lighting of the seven candles during the seven-day ceremony held from December 26th to January 1st.

The City of Brampton has opened applications for citizen appointments to various committees in the 2018-2022 Term of Council

By Toronto CaribbeanShauna-Kay Casselltorontocaribbean.com — BY: SHAUNA-KAY CASSELLThe City of Brampton has opened applications for residents to help make decisions in their city, by joining one of the various committees or appointments for the 2018-2022 term of council. These committees are as follows; the Citizen-based Advisory Committees, Adjudicative Committees, Administrative Tribunals, and related appointments. This is an opportunity for residents to volunteer their time, invaluable expertise, and actively participate in a meaningful way.

Holiday Party held in partnership between the Jamaican Canadian Association and Western Union

By Toronto CaribbeanShauna-Kay Casselltorontocaribbean.com — BY: SHAUNA-KAY CASSELLOn December 15th, 2018, Western Union and the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) celebrated with a Holiday Family Fun Day for the community as a way to give back, and to provide a celebration to those who were unable to return home for the holidays. It was held at the JCA Centre at 995 Arrow Road between 1-6pm. Approximately 80 participants joined in a Caribbean-style celebration, hosted by DJ Jonathan Juiceman Shaw.

The Annual Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) Children’s Christmas Party brought a Caribbean Christmas to children

By Toronto CaribbeanShauna-Kay Casselltorontocaribbean.com — BY: SHAUNA-KAY CASSELLThe Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) held their Annual Children’s Christmas Party at the JCA center for children of all ages on December 9th, 2018. Approximately 75 children and their parents from the Greater Toronto Area joined in the Christmas celebration, planned by a committee made up of four members: Natalee Johnson, Director, Children and Youth Affairs, Natasha Douglas, Kendra Douglas-Gannon, and Atavia Malandrino.

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By Jamaicans.com, Shauna-Kay Cassell- The Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board Canada hosted a conference on Saturday, July 12, 2018, at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall, in Toronto, Canada.

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By Jamaicans.com, Shauna-Kay Cassell- On Thursday, June 7, 2018 Prime Minister of Jamaica, the most Honourable Andrew Holness and Senator, the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith hosted a Town Hall Meeting at the Praise Cathedral Worship Centre in Mississauga, Ontario to connect with the Jamaican-Canadian Diaspora.

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Annual Dinner Dance and Fundraiser at the Stamford Sheraton…

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Jamaican Farmers Benefit From Scholarship To Learn Organic…

Toronto, February 27, 2017–  Fifteen small farmers recently completed a one month intensive…

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The Ole Farmers Association North America (OFANA) recently presented eight scholarships to students…

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In an ever changing world, the future of our people is etched on the level of education within that…

Jamaica, The Land I love

August 11, 2015 By: Shauna-Kay Cassell   Following my heart, turned out to be a good…

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