February 28, 2023

Politicking While Black

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The Samara Centre for Democracy and Operation Black Vote are co-presenting a webinar on Tuesday, February 28 from 6pm to 7:30pm ET that will explore the experiences of Black Canadians in  politics. 

Our speakers will share stories about how they navigated race and public office. What barriers did they face? What supports made a big difference? And how can the culture of politics change to enhance representation of Black Canadians in our democracy? 


An image featuring 4 headshots: Frank Baylis, former Member of Parliament; Suzy Hansen, MLA for ova Scotia; Stephen Wright, former city councilor; Denise Siele, consultant

Frank Baylis is presently the executive chairman of Baylis Medical Technologies. From October 2015 to October 2019 he was Liberal Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Pierrefonds-Dollard. Frank sat on the Industry Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Ethics & Privacy Committee. He was the chair of the Canada-UK Parliamentary Association and a founding member of the Black Caucus.

Stephen Wright was first elected to the Peterborough City Council in 2018. During his tenure, he served as the Vice Chair for Economic development; Vice Chair for the Peterborough Airport Strategic Advisory Committee; Water Commissioner for the City of Peterborough; and a member of the board for the Committee of Management for Fairhaven Long Term Care facility.

Suzy Hansen is the  MLA for Halifax Needham. Born and raised in Halifax’s North End, Suzy is a grassroots organizer, community leader and mother of seven beautiful children. She is the NDP spokesperson for Housing, Immigration, Early childhood and Education, Status of women, Justice and a few other portfolios. In addition she sits on several committees of the house as the voice for the NDP. 

Denise Siele brings a deep understanding of politics, public policy, media outreach and stakeholder engagement. A seasoned public affairs professional, she works with leaders and stakeholders across national, provincial and local governments, industry and non-profits. Her career experience includes Press Secretary to the Official Leader of the Opposition, Senior Communications Manager, National Gallery of Canada and Director of Stakeholder Relations, Equal Voice. 


Velma Morgan 

Chair of Operation Black Vote Canada, she is the architect of the first ever-Black Community provincial leaders’ debate, Black Women’s Political Summit and Next Generation Political Summit. She also co-created the 1834 Fellowship. As an advocate for gender,  cultural representation and inclusion in government, community and all levels of government regularly solicit Velma to deliver results in the area of policy, community and social development. Velma is currently working with Dr.Tolley and Carleton University on a study of Black Canadians’ experiences in politics.

Erin Tolley is the Canada Research Chair in Gender, Race, and Inclusive Politics and Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa. She is an expert on race, gender and representation in Canadian political institutions and the author of the award-winning book, Framed: Media and the Coverage of Race in Canadian Politics. Dr. Tolley is currently working with Operation Black Vote Canada on a study of Black Canadians’ experiences in politics. 

Sabreena Delhon is the Executive Director of the Samara Centre for Democracy. She frequently provides commentary about political participation in media outlets such as the Globe & Mail, CBC and the Toronto Star. Prior to joining the Samara Centre, Sabreena consulted with public sector organizations on stakeholder engagement strategies and managed access to justice research at the Law Society of Ontario. She is a Fellow with Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue and Massey College. Sabreena holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Alberta and an M.A. in Sociology from Dalhousie University.

About Operation Black Vote

Operation Black Vote Canada (OBVC) was established in 2004 as a non-profit, multi-partisan organization that supports the election of Black Canadians to public office. We educate, motivate and advocate for Black Canadians to participate in Canada’s government, agencies, boards, commissions, civil service and political processes at all levels. 

About the Samara Centre

The Samara Centre for Democracy is a non-partisan registered charity dedicated to realizing a resilient democracy with an engaged public and responsive institutions. Our research and programs make us a go-to resource for active citizens, public leaders and the media.

About This Event
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6:00 PM ET
February 28, 2023
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