Black History Month
- Share This Story
We connected with a few Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH) team members to gain insight into what Black History Month means to them and to reflect on their experiences. We are grateful to these amazing individuals for their willingness to share their thoughts and stories.
Child and Youth Counselor for the Adolescent Mental Health Program inpatient and constant observation unit at OTMH.
Black History Month for me is a sad reminder of how we (Black people) have to live in the closet for 11 months of the year. In February we are allowed out of the closet to briefly talk about our contributions and our accomplishments. We have to deal with anti-Black racism for 12 months of the year. After February is over, we have to continue functioning in a culture that is governed by white supremacy/whiteness, and in a society that is grounded in colonialism, white privilege, systemic and institutionalized racism, a society that has been designed to privilege one group (those designated as white) and disadvantage another group those defined as (people of colour).
I am reminded that is it only through an act in Parliament that we have been permitted to acknowledge the existence of Blackness in Canada. Otherwise we would continue to be invisible to most Canadians even though Black people have been in Canada before Europeans.*
I am reminded of how little the education system teaches about the Black experiences in Canada. This contributes to the erasure of Blackness in Canada. Black History is Canadian History.
I am a Child and Youth Counselor for the Adolescent Mental Health Program inpatient and constant observation unit at OTMH. I have worked at the hospital since December 2014 and previously, I have worked in schools and prisons. My role as a counselor involves deep social and emotional work with young people facing challenges.
I’m passionate about Child Youth work. At 14, I started working for the City of Mississauga at the recreation center where I opened the gym for kids to come play basketball and soccer. Helping young people is what I love to do. One of my most memorable experiences was running into a grown man on the subway a few years ago. He was once a kid that I took care of. And although I did not recognize him, he recognized me and said, “Everton, how are you doing, man?” He told me who he was and said, “You know, you really took good care of me and you made me into the person I am now and I’m so glad that I saw you and that I can tell you this.” This is why I do it, that’s my reward and my trophy.
My role model is my grandmother, she died many years ago, and I attribute my success to her. When my mother left for Canada to seek better opportunities, I was raised by my grandmother until the age of seven. I remember her telling me to always have manners and take in my education because it will take me through the world.
One of the significant challenges that I see is being made to feel like we belong. I’ve experienced situations where doctors come onto the unit to see patients and even though I know as much as others about what’s happening with the child, it feels like they would rather speak to the cleaning lady than turn to me to gather information. I believe that if you don’t belong, no one is going to take you seriously.
However, I also see triumph in the fact that there is a crack in the window. Events like COVID, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Black Lives Matter created this crack, and if we work hard enough, we can open it enough to get a body through. Everton hopes that the truth comes out, not just the truth about anti-Black racism, but also the truth about the contributions of Black people like Mathieu da Costa to the world.
I hope the truth comes out, not just the truth about anti-blackness.. I hope the next generation will be the generation of truth because I think that will bring about peace, a global peace. That’s when reconciliation will happen. I want to have faith that it will happen.