Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism stops in Amherstburg

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism toured southwestern Ontario last week with one of his stops being in Amherstburg.

Arif Virani, also the Liberal MP for Parkdale-High Park, made the Amherstburg Freedom Museum one of his stops on the tour, a tour that was described in a press release as one that saw him “discuss the priorities facing the creative sector and ethnocultural communities.”

Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Arif Virani visited the Amherstburg Freedom Museum last Tuesday. From left: summer students Hallee Kejick and Skylar Schmidt, Virani, curator Mary-Katherine Whelan and assistant curator Lorene Bridgen-Lennie.

Virani said he was meeting with groups and organizations on how to promote diversity and inclusion all the while combating racism. He said he wanted to hear from people on what the federal government can do and to also promote the investments the federal government is making, with two such examples being $19 million to promote mental health in black communities and another $23 million to promote multiculturalism and combat racism.

While in town, Virani said he was learning more about the role Amherstburg played during the Underground Railroad. He added he not only learned about the nation’s history as a safe haven, but of segregation that has occurred since and the steps that have been made to combat it.

“It’s quite amazing the history that is available here,” he said.

Virani indicated there are similarities to that era and today, as Canada continues to play a role in welcoming people from other parts of the world.

“This specific museum is eye-opening,” Virani added, noting that he was a human rights and constitutional lawyer before entering politics. “This is living history, which is incredible to see.”

Virani also met with students employed by the Amherstburg Freedom Museum through the Canada Summer Jobs Program and was enthused that they can learn about their community and even their own families at the same time.

Mary-Katherine Whelan, curator at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, believed Virani’s visit was good for the museum and the region as a whole.

Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Arif Virani looks at one of the displays last Tuesday afternoon.

“I think it shines a light on the museum and it shines a light on the multiculturalism that exists in the county,” said Whelan.

Whelan added that Virani’s visit allows the history of the area to be promoted.

“It’s good to have him here to learn about what makes Amherstburg’s history unique,” she said.

Virani was thanked for having visited the museum as Whelan said black history is sometimes overlooked. The visit allowed him to be educated further about black history and its importance.

Other stops during Virani’s tour of southwestern Ontario included Windsor, North Buxton, St. Jacobs, London and Kitchener.

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