fbpx
8.4 C
Elmira
Monday, October 14, 2019
Connecting Our Communities

A decidedly Canadian take on the civil rights struggle

My Place is Right Here is the story of Hugh Burnett, a tireless champion for equality; production in Elmira Aug. 10

TRENDING

Meet the candidates

By Veronica Reiner & Aneta RebiszewskiFive candidates are vying for your vote in...

Kitchener-Conestoga too close to call

With less than five percentage points separating the Conservatives and Liberals in the riding, Kitchener-Conestoga has become too close...

Organizers aim to put environment at the forefront of election

The federal election underway, environmental groups are looking to make issues such as climate change a central part...

Putting the green in the initiative

The woodlot in Elmira's South Parkwood subdivision attracted 35 volunteers who planted 150 trees Oct. 5....
Veronica Reiner
Veronica Reinerhttp://www.observerxtra.com
Veronica Reiner is a Reporter Photographer for The Observer.

An unforgettable performance in Elmira this weekend will not only entertain audiences, but provide unique insight about an African-Canadian civil rights leader who changed the course of history.

My Place is Right Here: Hugh Burnett and the Fight for a Better Canada was written by Kitchener’s Aaron Haddad, who was inspired by Burnett, a regular man with extraordinary fire.

Burnett, based in rural Dresden, Ontario, was dedicated to creating an atmosphere that promoted equality at a time when discrimination was rampant.

“We also have our own Canadian heroes. We want to highlight our country because this is who we are, and these are our stories. The one from the United States is beautiful, but it’s not our story. This is our story,” explained Lisbeth Haddad, member of the Hymn to Freedom Project and mother of the playwright.

The show will be put on by Caribbean Canadian theatre troupe Flex We Talent, and brought to life with a skilful cast of five amateur actors between ages 32 and 72. Following the performance will be an engaging Q&A session between players and members of the audience that provides information not known to many Canadians.

Historically, Burnett was a carpenter who was active in the National Unity Association, an anti-discrimination group founded in 1948. At that time, blacks were regularly refused service in stores, restaurants, and barbershops.

“Sometimes we don’t even recognize that we’re enslaved,” said Haddad. “We don’t even realize it’s been handed down to us. So if we don’t see images that don’t give us a visual and elicit a visual response from us, we just take things for granted, and the status quo remains.”

Burnett fought for racial equality and social justice throughout his life, challenging discriminatory practices in Dresden, and stayed the course, even when the journey became dangerous.

He made appeals to Ontario Premier Leslie Frost in the early 1950s that resulted in two pieces of legislation outlawing discrimination in the province: the Fair Employment Practices Act (making discrimination illegal in public-access areas) and Fair Employment Practices Act (outlawing workplace discrimination).

Joining the performance will be special guest Jim Walker, a professor of history at the University of Waterloo and a personal friend of Hugh Burnett.

Proceeds raised from the play will go towards the Hymn to Freedom Project, a community collaboration to create content to be used by educators across the country to tell the stories and make known the contributions of Black Canadians like Burnett.

“There is a lot more to Canadian Black history that is not taught in the schools,” said Lauris Dacosta, member of the planning committee of the Hymn to Freedom Project. “I think we need to get to the point where people are people – and we shouldn’t have to be explaining our nationality or colour.

“The play is really well-written by Aaron Haddad and very well demonstrated. It’s unique and informative. He really did a very good job. His work speaks for itself.”

There will be music by Acoustic Steel, and Caribbean refreshments will be available at the performance. The play takes place August 10 starting at 3 p.m. at the Elmira Theatre Company’s venue, 76 Howard Ave. Tickets are $20, available on Eventbrite at https://burnettplay.eventbrite.com or at the door.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted.By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

LIVING HERE

Program encourages Girls to give it a Go

Whether you’re a girl in need of a new friend or just someone to hear you out, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region (BBBSWR) is offering a seven-week GoGirls mentoring program at the...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Young Breslau martial artists continue to excel, collect hardware

It’s been another successful run for a pair of Breslau siblings, who crushed two martial arts tournaments in the past month.

A mixed-bag for Jacks as streak ends

The Wellesley Applejacks suffered their first regulation loss of the season last Friday, bouncing back to post a tie and a win as...

Shantz family doesn’t have to look far to find new owner for historic schoolhouse building

With fall’s arrival, change is in the air, but that’s not reserved just for the weather. A St. Jacobs historical landmark is being...

Music that’s designed to give you a lift

Audiences can expect an authentic atmosphere, soul-stirring ballads, and plenty of interaction with the cast in Drayton Entertainment’s latest offering.Now...

Wellesley council declares a climate emergency

Wellesley has officially recognized that the municipality is facing a climate emergency, a situation that requires bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Advertisement -