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Holding the Fort Judith James, pastor and founder of the Beautiful Foundation, at Revivaltime Tabernacle in Toronto.   Photo by Duane Cole

Holding the Fort

Black community initiatives have long been a lifeline in our cities; but red tape is getting in the way.

Last July, I was making my way through downtown Toronto to an address near the Scotiabank Theatre, thinking about what a beautiful day it was for a stroll. I had heard through the grapevine that some of Toronto’s most active Black community members would be holding a press conference at the Streets to Homes Assessment and Referral Centre, a first stop for unhoused people looking to be directed to shelter and other services. The press conference was organized to address the worsening homelessness crisis among recently arrived African migrants in the city. I was aware of the issue, but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I finally reached the centre: dozens of Black men, women and children sat on the steps. Many were asylum seekers from Africa; some lay down by the entrance, while others paced around the area anxiously.

As journalists, advocates and others trickled into ...

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