Forward March

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I don’t think there is a happier person on this planet than myself that 2016 is over. I truly shudder at several events that made headlines from a Trump victory to the Brexit vote in the summer when the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union or the numerous terror attacks across the globe. Despite positive events such as my sons’ sports hero Usain Bolt’s incredible performance at the Rio Olympics and the launching of the Peel District School Board’s (PDSB) action plan to support Black male students; We Rise Together, I am glad that 2017 is here. I feel a sense that 2017 will be great.

Yes. Trump will be the President of the United States. However, when one calmly surveys what’s at stake during a Trump Presidency you quickly realize that while he may make many people nervous he does not truly have all the power that he thinks he has. There are checks and balances that will curtail a Trump train wreck. So, this is how I console myself and I focus on the positive. Just as the Serenity Prayer Says “I accept the things I cannot change…… change the things I can……know the difference”.

On Monday January 9th, a Peel graduate, Shelly Challenger embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. This Peel Graduate became the first Black female to open her own funeral home in Ontario. The invitation reads “I am of Jamaican & Antiguan decent and the 1st black woman to manage and operate a funeral home in Canada. Through my experience, I felt it was time for me to give back whole heartedly with my skills to serve the Caribbean community”. I can only imagine the possibilities of this new Christian Funeral Centre. The Keynote speaker and Chairman of Mandeville Holdings INC., Michael Lee Chin, Bishop Lennox D Walker the Senior Pastor and of Praise Cathedral Worship Center and Michelle Hastick-Cowell VP of Wealth and Strategic Management and Wealth BKIFG and myself are a few of the community members that are supporting this bold new initiative.

On Thursday January 5th, the Brampton Guardian featured a David Suzuki alumni Renée Steenge. This poised, humble and talented young lady is quietly making her mark in the speed skating world. Renée is heading off to Austria for the World Junior Championships from January 27th to 29th. This first-year general engineering McGill student is not only a phenomenal athlete but she is an A+ student that graduated from David Suzuki with a 90 average. I am also so gratified as she started at the Brampton Speed Skating Club where my two middle children train. In fact, my 10-year-old son received a silver medal (in his age group) at the last regional meet. …It’s a mother prerogative to brag! However, I am truly excited about the possibilities for such a bright young and focused individual.

Over the Christmas Holidays I was able to connect with a lot of young Peel graduates that have all gone onto interesting adventures after leaving school. The overwhelming majority are all doing productive, engaging and positive things. So, despite all the doom and gloom, the shootings and negative headlines there are a lot of inspiring and potentially earth changing activities that our young students, graduates and children are doing. Let us change the narrative. Let us focus on the good and work wholeheartedly to bring about the change we want to see. Are there problems in our community? Are some of our children slipping through the cracks? Are too many of our kids not realizing their full potential? Yes, Yes and Yes. However, let 2017 be the year that we roll up our sleeves, that we stop complaining, that we cease criticizing and that we desist from pointing fingers. Let 2017 be the year that we become the change that we want to see. So, journey with me and be that change. Walk Good Belle Marché


  1. I think this article is misdirected Shelly Challenger was not the first, she is actually the 2nd. To be corrected I do believe Ms. Luann Jones was the 1st funeral director to own and operate the 1st black funeral home in Canada.


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