In honour of Black History Month, the Workers” History Museum would like to announce that work has begun on a documentary about Calbert Best, a prominent Black union pioneer, public servant, activist and diplomat.
Interviews and research are currently underway for the video and a travelling display. Arthur Carkner and Wasim Baobaid are working on the project, which will be available for Black History Month in 2014. The WHM is providing the research, production and documentary making work while two regions of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (Ontario and National Capital) are providing funding. The project was initially endorsed by the Racially Visible Action Committee (NCR) of the same union.
Calbert Best was the multi-term president of the Civil Service Association of Canada, one of two employee associations which merged to form PSAC. Born in Nova Scotia, he was active in the first newspaper for Black Nova Scotians, which was founded by his mother, Dr. Carrie Best. She is the subject of many archival and historical articles, and was honoured with a postage stamp in the 1970s.
Calbert Best was fined for refusing to sit in the Black-only section of a movie theatre in his youth. His strong sense of social activism led him to the CSAC, which he was elected president of while working at the Department of Labour. He was central in the merger talks, which led to formation of a union and collective bargaining, with all of the benefits that has provided since.
He subsequently held a number of senior posts in government, ending as Canada’s high commissioner (equivalent to an ambassador but within the Commonwealth nations) to Trinidad and Tobago. After retirement from his regular work, he headed up a federal study commission on amateur sport, and was a member of the 1999 Treasury Board committee studying visible minority participation in the Public Service of Canada. He has since passed away, but his many great contributions to create a better Canada will have a lasting effect on present and future generations of Canadians.