Canadians of Congolese origin are increasingly taking root in the Atlantic. As the sixtieth anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo approaches, they feel the need to share their story. A way for them to fight racism strongly denounced since the death of George Floyd in the United States.
Normally, Canadians of Congolese origin gather annually on June 30. It is the day when, in 1960, the Democratic Republic of Congo was born. The Belgian Congo thus freed itself from control of Brussels.
Independence Day is a time for the youngest to learn more about their parents’ country. “When we tell them about our difficulties there, they can’t get over itSays Mukunda Lunda, professor at Université Sainte-Anne and member of the Congolese Community of Nova Scotia.
Born in the 1950s, he lived the period before independence. The professor recalls the racial tensions between the Belgians and the Congolese when he was very young. A period that he describes as difficult, marked by violence.
Even though he is much younger, Adonis Fuki, recently elected head of the community in Nova Scotia, is well aware of this. “You know, today when we talk about racism, we have in our minds the history of colonialism.”
He cannot help drawing parallels in the current context where racism has been strongly denounced in recent weeks.
The Congolese Community of Nova Scotia currently has approximately 70 members. He hopes to soon triple his staff to strengthen their voice.
The atmosphere is normally festive on June 30, but Mukunda Lunda cannot help but think of the challenges that still persist in his country of origin, 60 years after his independence. The people at the time, he laments, were unprepared to live in a democracy.
“This is why our democracy until today suffers, fails to establish itself as we would like, as we would like, because there is this work to be done, educate the population, what is the democracy“He says.
Former Canadian Ambassador Ginette Martin knows something about it. She spent three years in the country between 2014 and 2017. During her tenure, she participated in this educational work with local NGOs.
“A better Congo than before, it depends on the participation of people, the participation of young people and activists who dare to advance in the public arena. It was not lacking in the DRC, however it is not obvious, the repression can sometimes be quite strong“, She underlines.
On June 30, many Canadians of Congolese origin will reflect on this constant quest for a healthier and more equitable democracy, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Canada and elsewhere.