“We want to have a forum where all cultures can mingle and be in a peaceful and loving environment – that’s our goal,” the official said.
Organizers of a new activity center due to open this weekend hope to bring community members together, regardless of race.
The Blacks For All Races (BFAR) Activity Center, located in the Barrie by the Bay building at 80 Bradford St., Suites 127 & 134, celebrates its grand grand opening on Saturday, September 24 starting at 4 p.m.
Daniel Abiodun, one of five BFAR executive members tasked with finding ways to promote black culture as inclusive and while enriching other races with their cultural heritage, said the center is meant to be a place that will help empower the black community while bringing together people of all races and backgrounds.
“We tried to come up with a community initiative that would talk about empowering black people in the community,” he said. “While we do this, we also want to be able to take the opportunity to reach out to other races and the whole community and then try to showcase our culture, all with the aim of making sure that everything everyone gets along in the best possible way.
Abiodun said the impetus for the creation of BFAR began in 2018 after the death of Olando Brown, who died in police custody following his arrest on June 22, 2018. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) determined that Brown had died of airway obstruction after ingesting two golf ball-sized drug-filled plastic bags that he had tried to swallow during a search at the former headquarters of Barrie Police on Sperling Drive.
“The black community came together because the facts that led to this event aroused some mistrust, so we thought it would be good and fundamental to come back and see how we can improve relations between the black community and the Barrie police,” Abiodun said. BarrieToday. “There was a rally that a lot of people came out for and after the rally we had a lot of ideas about how we can empower the black community and help with social service delivery, help solve problems job-related, which sort of thing.
“We decided the best way to do that was to have an activity center,” he added.
The center is open to all members of the community, Abiodun said, adding that the goal is to create a space for people to come together and socialize while creating the opportunity for a better community. The project is also designed as a way to empower black people while using it as a way to bring all races together under one roof.
The center will be open Tuesdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Suite 127’s primary address, Abiodun Paralegal Office, will also provide counseling and support to community members experiencing racial injustice resulting from systemic and institutionalized racism, discrimination, harassment, preferential treatment and differentials, prejudices in all areas of employment, housing, health care. , constitutional rights, Human Rights Code violation issues, etc.
Officials say the secondary address, in Suite 134, includes 15 computer workstations and free Wi-Fi, which will be accessible free of charge to members of the black community to interact, socialize, gather information, conduct research jobs, housing searches or applying to schools.
The secondary address will also offer after-school programs designed to nurture and support school-aged children of Black heritage as well as their friends from other cultures. The Activity Center will also serve the needs of Black immigrants, international students and other newcomers to the Simcoe County area or who may be new to Canada and are of Black ancestry.
Abiodun said BarrieToday the activity center was able to obtain a government grant to help cover the cost of purchasing some of the equipment.
“The government is supporting us and that’s the beautiful thing,” he said. “There is no way we would have all of this without the government grant. After the death of George Floyd in Minnesota in 2020, the federal government created this fund which was primarily aimed at empowering the black community. Our organization applied and was approved and now with this grant we can do a lot of good.
BFAR members say they are looking forward to the official opening on Saturday and invite the community to come and visit the centre.
“It’s just about empowering people as much as possible. This program is not limited. That’s why we call ourselves Black Community For All Races…(because) we don’t limit our programs to just black people. It is a global program. My kids have a lot of Caucasian friends and they’re going to bring them to the activity center.
“We want to have a forum where all cultures can mingle and be in a peaceful and loving environment – that’s our goal.”