Kwanzaa

By: The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, I rise today to wish you a happy Kwanza. As I began to prepare for this year’s celebration and the lighting of each candle on the Kinara, I was drawn to reflect on how the principles of Kwanza have been embodied by Black Canadians in 2020.

The first day of Kwanza is December 26. We light the black candle representing Umoja or unity. Unity will be the key in a post COVID-19 recovery process. We are all in it together.

The three red candles represent Kujichagulia, Ujima and Ujamaa. On day two, we light a candle for Kujichagulia, or self-determination, which represents divining, creating and speaking for one’s self. This year I have been inspired by Black Canadian activists who have spoken out against the violence of anti-Black racism.

Day three, Ujima, celebrates collective work. As we build back better from COVID-19, we share the responsibility of planning a successful and sustainable recovery for Black communities.

Day four celebrates Ujamaa, or cooperative economics. Many Black business owners have prevailed through 2020. My grandson asked me what Black Friday meant, and I was proud to explain how Black business owners have reclaimed this phrase to promote Black-owned businesses.

The three green candles represent Nia, Kuumba and Imani. On day five, a candle is lit for Nia, the principle of purpose and building community. I applaud the leadership of the Parliamentary Black Caucus and the Black senators group, as they inspired change.

On day six, we light a candle for Kuumba, for creativity. The creativity of Black Canadians in all sectors has helped us to survive this year.

The last candle represents Imani, or faith. For many African-Canadians, our faith and spirituality have been integral to our survival since our arrival here. Imani will also guide many of us through the recovery process.

Honourable colleagues, I invite you to reflect on these principles during the winter break and how they can influence our recovery process in the new year. Happy Kwanza to all.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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