Remarks on the discovery at Kamloops Residential School and the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund
Greetings. Hello everyone. From Ottawa, unceded Algonquin territory.
Thank you, Mary for all your outstanding work as Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade.
It’s great to be joined today by members of our own team, and leaders within banks and organizations from across the country.
I know you’re all committed to addressing structural barriers faced by Black entrepreneurs and business owners, so thank you for being here this morning.
Before I get into why we’re here today, I want to talk about the heart-breaking news that 215 children were found buried at the former Kamloops residential school.
Think of their loving families that they were ripped away from.
Think of the communities that never saw them again.
Think of their hopes, their dreams, their potential.
Of all they would have accomplished, all they would have become.
All of that was taken away.
These were children who deserved to be happy. Most of all, they deserved to be safe.
As a dad, I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have my kids taken away from me.
And as Prime Minister, I am appalled by the shameful policy that stole Indigenous children from their communities.
Our thoughts are with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, and with all Indigenous communities across Canada.
Sadly, this is not an exception or an isolated incident.
We’re not going to hide from that.
We have to acknowledge the truth. Residential schools were a reality — a tragedy that existed here, in our country, and we have to own up to it.
Kids were taken from their families, returned damaged or not returned at all with no explanations until this week.
People are hurting and we must be there for the survivors.
Later this afternoon, I will be talking directly with Ministers Bennett, Miller, and Vandal, and with all Ministers, about the next and further things we need to do to support survivors and the community.
We promised concrete action, and that’s how we’ll support survivors, families, and Indigenous peoples.
To honour the 215 children who lost their lives at the former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors and their families, the flags on federal buildings will fly at half-mast until further notice.
It is important to raise awareness and provide education on this dark chapter of our country’s history.
The tragic legacy of the residential schools is still present today, and through concrete action, our government will continue to support survivors, their families and their communities across the country.
And now, I want to talk about today’s announcement. Lately, we’ve been focusing a lot on “building back better.”
Today, we’re here to take yet another step in making that stronger, more equal future, a reality for all Canadians.
Whether it’s the business organizations I met last year with Greg, or people like Fahiye who I spoke with, with Marci, about his growing coffee business — I’ve seen first-hand how hard you, as Black entrepreneurs work, and how much you do to create jobs and lift communities up.
I’ve also heard you when you talk about the challenges you face, too.
And this includes accessing loans and capital from financial institutions.
For far too long, Black Canadians have faced systemic barriers when it comes to starting or growing a business.
That’s why the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund launches today.
This $291 million fund will allow Black entrepreneurs and business owners to access loans from $25,000 to $250,000.
Today’s announcement builds on the work we’ve already started through the first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program we announced last fall, a program that includes investments in everything from mentorship to financial planning.
To Black entrepreneurs and business owners in Canada: our government has heard you, and we’re working with you.
Because we know that to rebuild an economy that works for everyone, we must break down the barriers you face to create real economic inclusion.
We know that entrepreneurs from Black communities have the talent and ideas necessary to go far.
Today, with the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, we want to provide you with even more tools for success.
In order to build a country that works for everyone, we have to ensure that our economy is inclusive.
In this regard, I would like to thank the Federation of African Canadian Economics and the financial institutions that work in partnership with the federal government on this fund.
With you, more people will be have an equal opportunity to grow their business and make their dreams come true. Already, Black entrepreneurs and business owners contribute so much to our community and our economy.
I think of the Black business owners I’ve met who talk not just about building their own future, but about giving back to those around them.
With the right tools and support, these entrepreneurs will be able to create even more good jobs, and even more opportunities for people across the country.
Supporting Black businesses with long-term solutions is an important step forward to build the Canada we want, with a strong economy where everyone has a real and fair chance at success.
Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but we know that there is still a lot of work to do.
We also know that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on the Black community.
While fighting systemic racism experienced by Black Canadians in the business world, we must also keep on fighting to eliminate inequalities elsewhere, for instance in the health care and justice systems.
More than ever, while we rebuild our economy, our government will continue to be there to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.