The Liberal government is refusing to appoint members to the Council on African-Canadian Education, all while appointing 19 members to other agencies, boards and commissions during the past month.
The Council, mandated to promote the rights and interests of African-Nova Scotians within the education system, has just five members currently sitting on the 17-seat Council.
Archy Beals, who has served on both the Council on African-Canadian Education and the Provincial Advisory Council on Education (PACE), says the Council on African-Canadian Education has never been the Liberal government’s top priority.
“During my tenure on the Provincial Advisory Council on Education, the board has always been full, and has always had the government’s ears. On the other hand, the Council on African-Canadian Education has not been at full capacity, nor has it received attention from the government,” says Beals. “It’s clear that this Council has not been a priority for the government.
Leaving the Council under-resourced has impacted their ability to provide recommendations to the Department, and that has been clearly reflected in the Department’s policies.”
At the last Human Resources Legislative Committee in August, Progressive Conservative MLA Brad Johns put forward a motion requesting that Liberal Cabinet provide a list of candidates for each vacant seat by today’s meeting. This motion was voted down by the Liberal majority and no candidates were put forward for consideration for today’s meeting.
“The Liberals had more than a month to find suitable candidates for the Council on African-Canadian Education,” says Johns, the PC MLA for Sackville-Beaverbank. “This Council was established so that the Black community could make recommendations for the Department of Education; it’s beyond time that the Council is enabled to do just that.”
When properly resourced, the Council exists to provide and implement programs and policies to promote African-Canadian education, and to contribute to learning materials that respect the history, heritage, culture, traditions and the contribution to society of African people.
“If Minister Zach Churchill is serious about addressing systemic racism in our province, enabling this council to do its work would be a good start,” says Johns. “Nova Scotians are expecting their government to not only be talking about racism and equality, but to actually move the needle on these issues.”