January 21st, 2022
“It is not your duty to be average. It is your duty to set a higher example for others to follow.”
Since 2015, January 21 has been recognised across Canada as Lincoln Alexander Day. The Honourable Lincoln Alexander was a pioneer in the fight for racial equity in Canada. Alexander’s legacy is marked by many firsts for the Black person in Canada. Alexander was the first Black Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, the first Black federal Minister, and the first Black Chair of the Worker’s Compensation Board of Ontario. These firsts are only a few of the accomplishments that have and will continue to inspire generations of African, Caribbean and Black identifying people across Canada.
About Lincoln Alexander
Throughout his life and career, Lincoln Alexander spoke out boldly against racism and inequity often risking career and professional advancement in the process. As a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, he served as a wireless operator in World War II. While stationed in Vancouver, he was refused service at a bar because of his race. He reported the incident to his superior officer who refused to take action. Alexander subsequently quit the Air Force, leaving with an honourable discharge. This is only one moment of exemplary advocacy in the life of this great Canadian. In 2006, he was named the “Greatest Hamilitonian of All Time”. He was an advocate for education and has four schools named in his honour.
To learn more about the legacy of Lincoln Alexander, we invite you to watch this documentary: Lincoln M. Alexander: The Time Has Come to Celebrate (2002).
Marking Lincoln Alexander Day
For this Lincoln Alexander Day, we have a special message from Erika Alexander, his eldest granddaughter.
Black Brilliance in the WRDSB
At WRDSB we want to continually raise the bar of system-wide excellence. As a part of this we are pleased to announce the inaugural Black Brilliance Day.
In 2018, the WRDSB hosted the first student conference for African, Caribbean and Black identifying (ACBi) students. The conference created a space for ACBi youth in the WRDSB to engage in workshops and mentorship opportunities. Black Brilliance Day builds on the work that was started in 2018 to support and provide an identity affirming learning experience for ACBi students. This is a day to celebrate, honour and hear from ACBi students. BSU/As and staff are encouraged to host events in their schools that will positively impact the Black student experience. Black Brilliance 2022 recognises the legacy and contributions of The Honourable Lincoln Alexander.
Last fall, we hosted a t-shirt design competition. WRDSB Black Students’ Associations and Unions members were invited to create a design that honoured Lincoln Alexander and reflected Black Brilliance. Sanaa Selby and Manal Yahya from Glenview Park Secondary School who created the winning design.
The t-shirts featuring Sanaa and Manal’s design will be worn by BSA/U students and school staff on February 21, 2022, to mark Black Brilliance Day.