FREDERICTON (GNB) – With the full support of the legislative assembly, the provincial government today proclaimed 2015-2024 the International Decade for People of African Descent in New Brunswick.

Arlene Dunn, minister responsible for Immigration, introduced the motion, which was seconded by David Coon, the leader of the Green party. The motion passed unanimously.

“I am proud that we are taking this important step toward recognizing the struggles, contributions, sacrifices and triumphs of people of African descent, which will help us build a more prosperous, more diverse and inclusive New Brunswick,” said Dunn, who is also the minister of Aboriginal Affairs, minister responsible for Opportunities NB and minister responsible for Economic Development and Small Business. “I also feel it is important that, as a government, we support and track our progress with respect to the main objectives of the International Decade, which are to: promote respect, protection and fulfillment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of people of African descent; promote a greater knowledge of and respect for the diverse heritage, culture and contribution of people of African descent to the development of societies; finally, to adopt and strengthen national, regional and international legal frameworks that work to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.”

“I firmly believe that a vital part of building a better province is to embrace people of all nationalities and celebrate the unique experiences and expertise they bring,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “People of African descent are a part of the rich history of this province and it is only by working together that we can ensure a strong and diverse future for all New Brunswickers.”

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that proclaimed 2015 to 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent. Canada officially recognized this decade in 2018.

“It was an historic day for people of African descent and I was so happy to be part of it,” said Phylomène Zangio, co-founder of Provincial Council for People of African Descent of New Brunswick. “It is important that we are included and have our voices heard. The recognition at the legislature today is progress toward building vibrant African communities in New Brunswick.”

“The adoption of this motion by all parties gives us great hope’” said Mamadou Oury Diallo, president of the council. “We are pleased that this motion – proposed by civil society through Phylomène Zangio – has caught the attention of all elected officials. This is an historic and symbolic moment for the province’s Afro-descendant community. The council has been campaigning for this since the proclamation of the decade. It is a good start, and we intend to continue to work with the government as well as with all other partners to achieve the objectives of the decade here in New Brunswick.”