Volume 90, Issue 79

Thursday, February 13, 1997



Foster shares his ideas on achieving equity

By Paul Fruitman
Gazette Staff

Last night in the law building, Cecil Foster urged blacks and other minorities in Canada to search for a balance – a balance in recognizing identity and in the approach minorities must take to achieve real equity in Canada.

"I think we need the Malcolm X's as much as we need the Martin Luther Kings," the Barbadian-Canadian author and broadcaster told a racially and ethnically-mixed crowd. "We need to fight on all flanks."

Foster pointed to Black History Month as a reference for what blacks and other minorities have achieved in Canada, as well as one for how far they still have to go."I think it is great that we can share all the things we have achieved," he said.

Although education is equal for all, there is still a disparity in achievement, Foster said. "I want to see the day when we can truly tell our kids, 'Yes, you can become anything you want.'"

Foster said a change in the country's power structure is needed so minorities can bring skills from all cultures to the forefront of society.

"I think we can make society better if we can take those talents that are relegated to the periphery and bring them to the mainstream," he said.

Foster said he applauded the attention Canadians bestowed upon Donovan Bailey this summer, but added those types of achievements need to permeate to all areas of society. "[I want to see the day when] we'll have the Donovan Baileys in finance, the media and in whatever field the Donovan Baileys want."

First-year Fanshawe College broadcast journalism student Tania Daley questioned Foster on the approach first-generation Canadian parents must take with respect to their children's different life experiences.

"The parents do not understand the reality of what it is to be young and growing up in this society," Foster said, adding parents and children must work through their differences together.

The big topic of the evening was the question of minority identity and whether it must be compromised in order for groups to fit into the Canadian sphere.

Mervin Allen, president of the Black Law Students' Association and Steve Cimicata, president of Western's Legal Society questioned Foster on the importance of minorities adopting a more Canadian approach.

Foster said it is necessary to maintain one's roots. "I am very much a proponent of the hyphenated Canadian," he said.

It is not a question of minorities forsaking their heritage to be part of the Canadian experience, but a matter of Canada giving prominence to all its cultures, Foster said. "I want to see a mainstream so broad that it covers all of Canada," he said. " I want to believe that as we move into the new millennium, that there is hope for change."

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Copyright The Gazette 1997