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Celebrating Black History Month at Ombudsman Toronto

Today, the first day of February, marks the beginning of Black History Month. It is an important time to commemorate and celebrate the many contributions of the African, Caribbean, and Black communities around the world and their central role in global history.
At Ombudsman Toronto, we are proud to take part in this celebration, recognizing the immeasurable impact that African, Caribbean, and Black people in Toronto have had on the growth of our city, and on its cultural, economic, social, and political landscape.
As Ombudsman, I especially want to acknowledge the significant contributions they have made in advancing and improving City of Toronto services. Throughout my time at Ombudsman Toronto, both now as Ombudsman and in my previous role as Director of Investigations and Conflict Resolution when the office was first created, I have witnessed firsthand the impact of their community organizing and advocacy work.
By using their voices to raise each other up, but also to shine a light on issues their communities are facing, African, Caribbean, and Black people in Toronto have been instrumental catalysts for positive change in this city. I have had the privilege of seeing how this change—incremental though it may sometimes seem—leads to a fairer, more equitable experience of municipal policies and services, not only for African, Caribbean, and Black people, but for all residents in Toronto.
This is why, after having spent almost the entirety of my career in the Ombudsman sector, I can confidently say that one of the most powerful and vital aspects of the work that we do is meeting with and listening to members of the public.
I am incredibly grateful for all those who have taken the time to meet with me and share their concerns, and to the many others who’ve contacted our office about issues they’ve encountered when interacting with the City of Toronto and its services. This is especially the case for African, Caribbean, and Black people in Toronto who have, time and time again, raised issues of unfairness and inequity in Toronto and offered positive and practical suggestions on how the City administration can better serve them.
I believe that, as Ombudsman, it is important for me to place a high degree of respect on these past conversations and to do my own work of learning what has already been said. This work is a continual process and one that I commit to doing.
I also commit to looking ahead and making space for future conversations, and am particularly focused on reaching people from equity-deserving groups, including African, Caribbean, and Black people in Toronto.
So I will end this by saying, to all members of the African, Caribbean, and Black communities in Toronto, thank you for the work that you have done to improve the City for us all, and for continuing to use your voice. Should you ever want to meet with me, please know my door is always open.
Kwame Addo