“Get involved.” It’s something that Garrison Duke has said to inspire both colleagues and clients he has worked with in the not-for-profit sector for the past 15 years. “Get involved. Grow with skills and help sustain yourself through work and community connection.”
In this Afro News community member profile, we find that he is following his own words and doing what he said has compelled him to “seek the next level of helping people.” After years of seeing to the social needs such as housing, employment and skills training of low income citizens, many with multiple barriers Duke found points of struggle in the system and began asking a new question.
“How can we change policies, to do more, to provide more support for people trying to develop and to improve their situation?”
Motivation to run for a seat at the political table in BC’s provincial election came from this and other elements on his life path. He’s campaigning under the Liberal banner in Burnaby-Edmonds. “It made sense,” says Duke. “A lot of the people I helped live here through the employment and youth programs I’ve run and my involvement with the multicultural council.”
Having grown up in low income and tough neighbourhoods adjoining the iconic Jane and Finch area, he understands the need for support. “You had to get involved with sports and other activities to get away from the whole drug culture and gun play and to focus on your life and to try to make something of yourself.”
Duke’s vision is inclusive. “I’d like to see involvement for the full spectrum of black citizens, from all our various origins, but especially for youth. So this means, the arts, the professions such as legal and medical. We need more voices at the table, beyond even the political participation opportunities.”
The ethnically diverse supporter base that encouraged him and the equally diverse campaign team represent his personal stake.
“I’d like to see that opportunities be taken up by the black families and students in our community. I’d like to see their rise in education, job opportunities and personal development but I want this as part of the entire Burnaby-Edmonds community’s rise.” His vision is that of a quality of life increase for everyone so that as the level rises, it carries all the diversity of this community’s members with it.
So, he continues to knock on doors calling for support to help him help with affordable housing, childcare spaces and skills development in an effort to keep with his and his party’s stance on healthy communities.
If elected, Duke plans to ensure that Burnaby Edmonds gets its fair share of the 4.9 billion the government allocated to housing. “We’ll bring their fare share of those estimated 5,300 units and a share of the 13,000 committed child care spaces. We also want to deliver the skills development and job creation programs that are needed in this riding.” He’d also like to see an increase in other resources which he feels have been neglected by both the mayor and MLA of this community for the past 12 years.
No matter the outcome of the election, Duke plans to continue with programs close to his heart and expertise. He’d like to show the black community’s history as relevant and inspirational. He has in mind to establish a “foundation with scholarships for exposure to higher levels of experience, in particular for the arts such as film, ballet and symphony as examples of ways to increase social wellness in a community.”
Diversity and collective development is evident in Duke’s vision as well as his current campaign and his team.