Author: Desmond Cole
Review by: Kirk Duguid, Acting Consul General of Canada to the Southeast U.S.
I arrived in Atlanta in mid-December 2019, eager to start my new position managing the public affairs, consular and political sections of the Consulate General of Canada, and supporting former Consul General Nadia Theodore in her role as Canada’s top diplomat in the region.
Little did I know that 2020 had other plans for us all.
From the start, I was enamored with this region, and proud to see strong ties with my home country. In my first few months, I was already traveling across the Southeast, attending events to promote economic and people-to-people ties. Yet all of this would come to an eerie halt in March 2020 with the onset of COVID-19.
Then, in May 2020, massive protests over racial injustice took to the streets across the United States in the wake of the death of George Floyd. These protests also resonated across Canada and around the world.
Canada, you say? The tumultuous year that we’ve experienced here in the South has revealed that I came here not only with my preconceived notions of the region based on its history, but also with many false assumptions about my own country.
In fact, there is more in common between Canada and the Southeast U.S. than not. In his book, Cole contests the narrative of Canada as a post-racial nation, and exposes the systemic racism and prejudices that permeate contemporary Canadian society.
He documents a year of events which clearly show entrenched inequality against Black communities and Indigenous peoples. He also shines a spotlight on police brutality, as well as on the stories of Black queer and trans communities and other groups who have faced “Canadian settler colonialism.”
The events depicted took place in 2017, yet the book’s release could not have been better timed. With the world watching, the events of 2020 were not new, yet the opportunity is now for us to rebuild our societies, making them more equitable for everyone. I believe that responsibility lies with each of us.
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