Black History Month – Stanley Grizzle – Blog

Black History Month 2024 – Stanley Grizzle (1918 to 2016)

In 1938, Stanley Grizzle played a pivotal role in establishing the Young Men’s Negro Association of Toronto, marking the commencement of his dedicated advocacy for the rights of Black Canadians.

During the 1940s, as the local President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Stanley Grizzle passionately fought for the recognition of porter identity, advocating for the issuance of name cards to end the demeaning practice of white passengers addressing Black porters as “George” or “boy.” Additionally, he tirelessly campaigned for the inclusion of Black workers in management roles within the Canadian Pacific Railway. Grizzle’s unwavering commitment to justice led him to a distinguished career as a public servant, politician, and esteemed citizenship judge, earning him the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his relentless battle against anti-Black racism.

Throughout his two-decade tenure as a porter for the CPR, Grizzle fervently championed for improved working conditions, leveraging his position to advocate and negotiate on behalf of his fellow porters. His exemplary leadership culminated in his election as president of the Toronto CPR division of the BSCP in 1946.

In 1942, Stanley Grizzle was drafted into the Canadian army. While he acknowledged the necessity of the Second World War, he couldn’t shake the dissonance of Canada championing democracy in Europe while neglecting to extend those same principles of democracy, fairness, and equality to Black Canadians at home.

In the early 1950s, Grizzle emerged as a prominent figure in the Joint Labour Committee to Combat Racial Intolerance, spearheading efforts to engage provincial and federal leaders in discussions regarding anti-discrimination legislation for Black Canadians. A familiar presence on television and radio, Grizzle eloquently addressed the myriad issues confronting the Black community in Canada.
Following his military service, Stanley Grizzle persisted in his advocacy for the rights of Black Canadians. During this period, Canadian immigration policies imposed restrictions and, in some instances, outright denials of equal immigration status to applicants from various British Commonwealth countries such as the Caribbean, British Guiana (Guyana), India, Pakistan, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and African nations, while favouring applicants solely from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.

On April 27, 1954, Grizzle played a pivotal role as part of the inaugural delegation of Black Canadians to engage with members of the federal Cabinet, addressing Canada’s discriminatory immigration practices.

Several years later, in 1959, Grizzle, alongside Jack White, made history by becoming the first Black Canadians to vie for seats in the Ontario legislature. Despite garnering over 9,000 votes as a Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) candidate, Grizzle ultimately placed third in his riding.

In the early 1960s, Grizzle secured a position as a clerk at the Ontario Labour Relations Board, marking a significant milestone as the first Black Canadian to work within the Ontario Ministry of Labour. His dedication and proficiency led to subsequent promotion to the role of officer.

Grizzle’s tenure at the Labour Relations Board persisted until his appointment by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau as a citizenship court judge, where he once again made history as the first Black Canadian to serve in this capacity.

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