A grassroots activist and Canada’s first black Lieutenant Governor have been immortalized by Canada Post as part of its Black History Month stamp collection.
Well-known in Toronto’s Black community, Kathleen (Kay) Livingstone and Lincoln M. Alexander “shattered barriers for visible minorities in Canada,” Canada Post said last week on the release of the 2018 stamps to celebrate Black history.
“Lincoln Alexander and Kay Livingstone opened countless doors for Black Canadians and other minorities across the country,” said Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra. “They are remarkable role models who fostered Canadian values of diversity, respect and inclusion.”
Parliamentarian and WW11 veteran Alexander, who was affectionately known as Linc, passed away in 2012 at the age of 90.
He was widely respected and well-liked in the community and was the first Black to be elected to the House of Commons in 1968 to represent the riding of Hamilton West, which he represented until 1980. He was appointed to the federal Cabinet in 1979 and named as the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in 1985.
It is well known that Lincoln encouraged countless youth to pursue their dreams, often telling them: “I did it. You can. You will.”
Alexander served from 1942 to 1945 in the Royal Canadian Air Force an in 1992 was appointed to the Order of Ontario and became a Companion of the Order of Canada.
In recognition of his many accomplishments, January 21 has been celebrated as Lincoln Alexander Day across Canada since 2015.
The popular Livingston, who was born in London, Ont., in 1919, was a well-known personality who in 1942 hosted her own radio program in Ottawa called The Kathleen Livingstone Show. She later hosted other shows in Toronto.
Her father was an assistant judge in the local juvenile court and her parents founded the Dawn of Tomorrow newspaper which covered the growing Black community.
She also performed in amateur and professional theatrical productions and was referred to as “one of Canada’s leading Black actresses” during this period.
Livingstone founded the Canadian Negro Women’s Association in the 1950s, organized the first National Congress of Black Women and in 1975 launched the Congress of Black Women of Canada, a nationwide organization dedicated to the welfare of women and their families.
She was among a group of activists who formed a calypso competition to raise funds that was developed into the hugely popular Caribana festival, which has been attracting huge amounts of people for more than 50 years. She also belonged to the United Nations Association of Canada, Appeal Board of Legal Aid and the National Black Coalition.
Just before her sudden death in 1975, she was working as a consultant for the Canadian Privy Council, helping to organize a national conference for visible minority women.
Livingstone is credited for coining the now popular and common expression “visible minority”.
In 2011, she was named a person of significance by the Government of Canada and a plaque reflecting that status was erected near her Toronto home last year.
It was under her influence that the first celebration of Negro History Week took place in Toronto in the 1950s.Today, the Kay Livingstone Award is given to Black women to encourage them to “improve the lives of other women of colour and their families”.
The stamps are the 14th and 15th Black History Month stamps issued by Canada Post since 2009.
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