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Bay Street entrepreneur pledges to fight racism

Published:Saturday | July 18, 2020 | 12:06 AMNeil Armstrong/Gleaner Writer

A major figure in Canada’s corporate world is challenging that sector in the country to confront racism.

In light of the death of George Floyd while in the custody of police officers in Minneapolis in the United States, Jamaican Canadian Wes Hall, executive chairman and founder of Kingsdale Advisors, has been very vocal in the media about systemic racism in Canada.

Hall said that he was the first black corporate leader to speak out about the issue and that he felt that it was very important to lend his voice to the matter, which he compared to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been a plague on our society for over 400 years,” said Hall, wearing a T-shirt with the slogan ‘I am George Floyd’ while concluding the virtual UWI Toronto Benefit Gala awards ceremony, for which he is a co-patron.

The entrepreneur said that there are many smart, hard-working students who will graduate from university and then apply for jobs but, due to systemic racism, will not be able to participate in the system.


“There are barriers in the system that prevent them from getting a decent job, so I have spoken out against those barriers, but I also suggested that we come up with solutions to replace those barriers with access.”

Hall said that he spoke with several business leaders about his idea to form a coalition – the Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism – that aims to “identify all those barriers as they relate to anti-black systemic racism and, one by one, dismantle those barriers”.

“We want to make sure that when we donate to these causes, like the university (The UWI), and our wonderful black students graduate, that they have a place to work,” said Hall.

He added: “So the Black North Initiative – which I have dedicated a big portion of my wealth to ensure that that initiative is put in place – what we’re going to do, we’re going to hold companies accountable. We’re going to ensure that management, boards of directors in large companies in Canada, that they make sure that there is room for black people in those organisations.”

Hall said there is no plan for his organisation to solve racism as it is a cultural issue.

“But we certainly can remove the barriers that cause anti-black systemic racism, and I’ve devoted my time, energy, my funds to make sure that we move with a big dent in that within the next three to five years,” he said.