January 24, 2022
Taxpayers will be billed 83K to fly rappers, hip-hop dancers and African drummers to Nunavut as part of Black History Month in February, says Blacklock’s Reporter.
Canadian Heritage documents show part of the tab is for talent fees for one senator to visit Nunavut.
“This is not something I wish to discuss with you,” said Stephanie Bernard of Iqaluit, president of the Nunavut Black History Society that successfully applied for subsidies.
Bernard declined to comment on Access To Information records detailing grants to the club that totaled a quarter-million since 2019.
The society counts only about 100 black people in Nunavut comprising .3% of the population.
Heritage department records detailed an $82,765 grant application for next month’s observance. Most spending is for flights, accommodation and talent fees for black performers and VIPs traveling to Iqaluit from Toronto and Ottawa.
The budget included $32,600 to host Toronto rapper Kardinal Offishall, another $12,500 for Toronto drummer Derek Thorne and ensemble, $9,400 to have a troupe called Moov Ottawa fly in to hold hip hop classes, and $4,100 in flights, accommodation and talent fees for Sen. Wanda Thomas Bernard (N.S.).
The subsidized party was more than “a professional stage show,” said the Nunavut Black History Society grant application.
It would “help the local population, especially the Inuit majority, navigate and understand contemporary issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, white supremacy, bigotry, hate and prejudice.”
“This is to ensure the protection and improvement of life for people of African descent in Nunavut,” wrote society president Bernard, a Government of Nunavut manager.
The Society earlier received grants of $56,431 last year, another $68,050 in 2020 and $57,800 the year before that.
Records show the heritage department approved the grant applications without question.
Department managers at one point hosted a 2018 dinner meeting with Black History Society members in Iqaluit while their application as pending.
The department went further in a 2020 report that falsely claimed black people had lived in Nunavut for 400 years.
“Unknown to many Iqaluit residents and most Canadians, people of African descent have been present in the Canadian territory since the early 1600s,” then-Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault wrote.
The claim was historically inaccurate as census data show as late as 1931 the Bureau of Statistics could not find a single black person in what was then the Northwest Territories.