CENTRE WELLINGTON - Due to the growing number of Black residents in Centre Wellington and the situation over the controversial Pierpoint Park, a local Fergus resident thought it was best to form a Centre Wellington Black Committee – the first of its kind in the township.
“Well, we basically noticed that there was a growing number of black people coming to Fergus, and we wanted to form relationships with them; a lot of us have a lot of background similarity, meaning a lot of us are moving to Fergus from Brampton, from Mississauga, and we all ended up here. So, we thought it was such a great way of just building stronger relationships with each other,” explained Millicent Gordon, founder of the Centre Wellington Black Committee, in an interview.
“I worked in the media for about 25 years, and when I found out about the Pierpoint Park being slated into a truck bypass, we thought we needed to form a committee to fight and advocate for our history as well as bond with other Black folks in the county and the township.”
Centre Wellington Township proposed in its transportation master plan to turn Pierpoint Park into a truck bypass, which is suggested to link Wellington Road 29 and Anderson Street, north of Wellington Road 18.
Gordon said that upon coming across the recent articles about Pierpoint Park, she and her fellow committee members have not heard nor learned about the situation beforehand, which raised a few alarming bells in her mind.
“I have a lot of friends in the media, and the fact that none of us knew about this park and the plans the council have with it is alarming. When I do research, it's there but it’s not front page news,” said Gordon.
“And I am wondering why it just wasn't given enough attention, like other stories, because this is a huge social justice issue. So with our group, one of our focuses is to just bring the Pierpoint Park story in the mainstream media and make it more front and centre in the Canadian psyche, so to speak.”
So far, the Centre Wellington Black Committee has around 12 members, which Gordon reached out to by coming up to them in public such as the local supermarkets in Fergus and Elora.
Gordon explained having hailed from Brampton, she was used to seeing Black people all over the city. However, since moving to Fergus, she rarely saw Black people around. So, whenever she did, she would come up to them in public and would give them her number.
“When I came here, you know, I didn't see a lot of Black people. So, whenever I met them in the supermarket, I used to exchange my number, and told them to call me. I was just so happy to see all the people here from the Black community and really bond and form good relationships with each other,” explained Gordon.
Tania James, the committee’s secretary, said this was how Millicent and her met – with Gordon coming up to her in Walmart.
“So that's how we became friends. I think, in our conversations along the line, it just happened organically, where we spoke about how it would be really nice if we can have a group, whether it's formal or informal, come together to be a part of the community,” explained James.
“I really want to be more involved in my community, and seeing that there’s a need for representation in the township, I felt that it was vital to join a group that is going to work towards that.”
The committee is currently at its early stages and is still finalizing its mission statement and objectives as well as looking for funding grants to help out with future events and projects to strengthen the Black community in Centre Wellington and the county. They also have a Facebook page that interested residents can join.