Hon. Amina Gerba: Madam Speaker, congratulations on your appointment as the Forty-sixth Speaker of the Senate.
Honourable colleagues, as we prepare to celebrate Africa Day on May 25, I want to recognize the amazing contribution that members of the African diaspora have made to their mother continent and to their new homelands. The African diaspora includes anyone of African descent living outside the continent. In 20 years, the African diaspora in Canada has more than tripled, going from 300,000 people in 2000 to 1.3 million people in 2021.
Given their strong sense of patriotic identity, members of the African diaspora naturally build socio-economic and cultural bridges with their adopted countries.
Africans around the world have made a name for themselves in many different sectors, such as arts and culture, education, politics, research and especially business, which is where these men and women shine. Canada’s history can attest to that.
Since the arrival of Mathieu Da Costa, the first African person to come to Canada in the early 17th century, many people of African descent have helped to shape our nation’s heritage. They include Lincoln Alexander, Viola Desmond and Oscar Peterson.
I would note the presence in the gallery of several influential members of the African diaspora in Quebec: Souad Elmallem, Fidèle Toghoua, Henriette Mvondo and Cyrille Ékwalla. There are also other members of the diaspora representing the Groupe Excellence Québec and United Actions for Africa. They will be mentioned later. They are going to take part in celebrating the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association’s twentieth anniversary.
Colleagues, we can learn from our neighbours to the south, who set up an organization called Prosper Africa to steer the Biden-Harris administration’s Africa strategy. To develop such an initiative, our country can and must leverage the engagement and entrepreneurial energy of members of the African diaspora, and that’s just the beginning.
Thank you for your attention.