I’m honoured to have been chosen as the English-language spokesperson for Black History Month 2018.
Part of leaving a legacy and serving as a model for Black youth is about demonstrating that Blacks can take up prominent positions within Quebec’s multicultural society. As a Black Quebecer, I’m proud of the history of Blacks in this province and of their accomplishments, which are as significant as the contributions of any other non-indigenous community. Therefore, it bears noting that although many Blacks might have been born in Quebec and are able to trace their roots here back to the 17th century, they are afforded very little recognition and don’t get to have their history taught in schools. We of the Black community must develop a strong sense of our place in society and demonstrate—through our voices and deeds—that Black history forms an indivisible and integral part of the history of Quebec itself. Blacks must also take every opportunity they can to participate in all aspects of the life of this province. In addition, we should invest in our legacy by encouraging civic pride and self-esteem among our youth and by helping them to take their rightful places at every level of society.
As an individual, I am not only an embodiment of the stories of Quebec’s Black immigrants, but of someone from among them who has been able to meet the usual standards of “success”. Although one can surely call said standards into question, it’s worth nothing that immigrant stories, such as mine, are hardly isolated incidents. Nonetheless, for the most part, these types of stories of achievement are left untold and instead need to be celebrated—mostly for the benefit of our youth, who stand to profit from such examples.
The significance of this calendar is that it reminds us, and society at large, of who we are. Most importantly, however, is that it reminds youth of who they are and that there is much to be proud of and toward which yet to strive.
Happy Black History Month to all Quebecers!
I accepted the invitation to serve as a spokesperson for Black History Month for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a real honour for me to be able to use my humble platform to spread this organization’s message. In addition, I feel that this opportunity will give me the chance to shine a light on the history and successes of Quebec’s Black communities.
Dakar native Karim Ouellet grew up between Canada, Senegal, Rwanda and Tunisia; he now lives in Quebec. His music has melds genres, leading to renewal within the world of pop. Karim Ouellet is multitalented and hands-on, and oversees every step in the song-creation process: lyrics, music, mixing, arrangement and production.
To say that a lot of water has passed under the bridge since the Quebec release of FOX (Coyote Records) is a bit of an understatement of Karim Ouellet’s journey since. That release received honours that included “Francophone Album of the Year” at the 2014 JUNO Awards, the 2013 Prix Félix-Leclerc for “L’amour”, seven nominations at the ADISQ Gala, the 2012-2013 Révélation Radio-Canada, and was roundly showered with plaudits and praise.
Karim has had occasion to perform some of his boundary-less melodies during several dozen shows in France, opening there for M and Stromae. The singer-songwriter has since quickly carved out a prominent place amidst the immense promise of today’s wave of Francophone song writing.
Karim Ouellet is well positioned on Quebec radio, where the artist has no fewer than six tracks—”L’amour”, “Marie Jo”, “Rien ne sert de courir”, “L’amour est un monstre” (with Misteur Valaire), “Oh! Non” et “Karim et le loup”—all of which have made their way to the number-one spot on the charts. He has a new hit too with “La mer à boire”, which is also quietly climbing the charts.
With more than 200 concerts around the French-speaking world already under his belt, including three performances with symphonies, this iconoclast is having fun at the margins where established boundaries are coming undone and has claimed his place as one of the greats in the world of music. Having mastered evoking feelings of love within the confines of a brand of pop that is gently painted over a smooth-then-rough canvas, Karim Ouellet will again grace many stages throughout Quebec in 2018, armed with his hits as well as with much-awaited new material.