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SENATORS’ STATEMENTS — COVID-19 Pandemic and Racism

June 25, 2020

Honourable senators, I am delivering this message on behalf of Senator Jaffer.

I rise today firstly to say thank all the Senators, the Clerk of the Senate, Richard Denis, Pascale Legault and all the staff who work so tirelessly. You do exceptional work, and you have continued to do so during the ongoing pandemic, COVID-19.

Colleagues, this pandemic is not the only illness that is plaguing our country. Racism is also a pandemic. One that has corroded the minds and bodies of far too many Canadians. However, this pandemic too is being fought.

Honourable Senators, I am thankful for each and every one of you who continues to walk with us through this very difficult time in our country.

Specifically, my fellow colleagues of African Descent; Senators Ravalia, Moodie, Bernard, and Mégie, for the work that we have done in the past few weeks. When we fight together, we are stronger.

In all our work, we must carefully consider how we can be promoters of national harmony.

We must also consider what equality and equity mean and what measures we can put in place to ensure the equal treatment of all people.

When I first became a Senator, the first thing my father, Sherali Bandali Jaffer, a former Member of Parliament in Uganda, told me, was that I must use my position of power and privilege to find ways to create harmony in Canada.

As we continue through this challenging summer, I ask that we all reflect on how we can create harmony in our society and what policies and resources we have to implement to achieve equality in Canada.

When I was young, my father taught me to think of how a piano creates beautiful harmonies.

He said, sure, you get some harmony by playing just the white keys, but the sound hurts your ears’. Sure, we also create some sort of harmony by playing just the black keys. But again, it does not sound great.

Senators, to achieve truly beautiful harmony, we must play on both the white and black keys.

In the same manner, we must work together, regardless of our racial backgrounds to promote equality among all Canadians.

Honourable senators, thank you and please stay safe.

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