We need to celebrate us, tell our own stories

by Arnold Auguste
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By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher/Senior Editor

We’ve always known that Share was very popular with our readers.
From the time we arrived on the scene back in 1978 readers took a keen interest in what
we were doing or saying, and it wasn’t long before Share became the largest, most read
and respected publication serving our community, a position we continue to hold today.
It was still surprising, though, to hear from so many of you when we suspended publishing
at the end of July 2023. We thought we could just quietly go away and you wouldn’t
That was not to be.
In order to respond to the concerns from so many of you as to why we ceased publishing,
we decided to publish a Black History Month issue in February. We thought that would be

So, it was somewhat surprising when our delivery people reported on the response to the
paper when it was being delivered on February 15. One called to say that we have to
continue publishing because of the response she experienced with people greeting her with
“Share is back! Share is back!”

That was very moving. It reminded me of Sally Field’s giddy remarks at the 1985 Oscars
when she won Best Actress for her role in Places in the Heart.
“You like us, you really like us.”

Sometimes you are so close to a situation that you can’t see the bigger picture. The time
away and the responses from our readers helped to change that.
I was heading north on Bathurst St. at Lakeshore recently when I saw a streetcar pass in
front of me emblazoned with images showcasing the TTC’s tribute to Black History Month
and there it was, larger than life, a photo of Irma James, the first Black woman to be hired
by the TTC as a streetcar driver.

I remember that story well as I mentioned in last month’s issue of Share. It was exciting
news for Jules Elder and I back in 1983. While it might not seem a big deal today, and
even to others back then, it was a very big deal for us at Share. It was a celebration of ‘a
first’. Now, more than 40 years later, the TTC is catching up to us by celebrating this
historic ‘first’.

We have been fortunate to cover many ‘firsts’ over the past 46 years. We have proudly
announced accomplishments on the police force, in academia, in business, politics, the
media and other prominent positions as members of our community broke glass ceilings.
We were always aware that many of those stories might not have been big news to those in
mainstream media and the wider society but to us they were important stories to share.
They were the kind of stories that encouraged us, that reminded us that we and our
children have opportunities and options.

There is the saying: “You have to see it to be it.” But you can’t see it if someone first
doesn’t achieve it. That is where we come in. When we share these stories, our kids are
able to “see it”.

There is another aspect to this. “You have to see it to believe it.” That is for potential
employers, and those selecting members of boards, commissions and other gatekeepers. If
they don’t see us doing well, breaking new barriers, attaining new heights and excelling at
it, they might not be able to visualize us as their top employees, on their boards, their

commissions; they might not be in a position to believe that we can do it, be it. So, sharing
these stories take on added importance and open up opportunities for qualified members of
our community who might otherwise be overlooked.
That is why we are so proud of Alex Betancourt, recently hired as the first Black female
firefighter by the City of Brampton.

Firefighting has been for a very long time a closed shop for people of colour. In fact, there
was the belief a long time ago that you had to be Irish to become a firefighter. The same
used to also be said about the police but that changed much earlier.
We are proud of Ms. Betancourt and of the Brampton Fire Services. Now, little Black girls
everywhere will know that if they wish, they too have a shot at becoming a firefighter. It
might not be a big deal for other people but it is for us and for our little girls.
That is what Share is about. That is why we continue to publish. And thanks for reminding
me of this.

Until there is no longer the need to celebrate ‘firsts’ we will need to have our own media to
tell these stories.

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