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It's time for Black Canadians to claim their seat at the table: Gooch

Women and women of colour need to turn online political interest into real-world political action. Strategist Tiffany Gooch shares how she did just that.

Contributed

In April, the Jamaican Canadian Association hosted “So You Think You Can Run,” a free event aimed at preparing Black Canadians interested in running for public office. 

I was invited to join the panel to share best practices in campaign organization. 

There was a moment during the training that I will never forget: as participants stood to introduce themselves, we realized that every one of the self-selected potential candidates was a woman.  

Earlier this year while organizing a lobby day in Ottawa alongside Black activists from across the country, we had a similar moment when we realized that 70 per cent of our delegation was female. 

Events, networks, brunches and panels are popping up across the country facilitating meaningful dialogue about Black women in politics. Black lawyers, health-care professionals, writers, artists, historians, educators, entrepreneurs, academics, parents, students, business professionals, and academics alike are activating politically — led by women.

As this movement interconnects, powerful work is being carried out to rid our institutions and communities of anti-Black racism, continue to advance women’s issues, and prepare a better country for our children to thrive. 

No one group or individual can win these fights in Canada alone. The power to fill the policy gaps where Black Canadians and women are being left behind is held by everyday citizens, like you, who decide to take action. 

My journey in politics began in high school when my local MPP Sandra Pupatello and MP Susan Whelan hosted an annual conference highlighting the challenges facing women in Canadian politics. They became part of my personal board of directors that continues to provide mentorship as I navigate political spaces. 

It was at that event that I also met Jean Augustine, the first African Canadian woman to serve as a federal Parliamentarian. 

Since then I served as the president of my students’ union at the University of Windsor, took on various roles in party politics, worked as a political staffer in provincial politics, advised and organized community-led campaigns, and recruited, trained, and fundraised for first-time female candidates. 

I believe we are entering a golden age in Canadian politics for women, and women of colour. If you were waiting for an invitation, this is it. Your experience, perspective, and talents are needed in the Canadian political arena at all levels. 

Refuse to accept the status quo and initiate the change you believe your community requires. Turn your online political interest into offline political action. 

Start a campaign. Fundraise for a cause you care about. Join a political party. Organize a rally. Run for office.  

Take your seat at the table.

Tiffany Gooch is a political strategist, secretary of the Ontario Liberal Party Executive Council, and an advocate for increased cultural and gender diversity in politics.

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