Bronze bust honouring Lincoln M. Alexander unveiled at Queen’s Park

A moving ceremony was held at Queen’s Park on Sunday afternoon during which a bronze bust of the Honourable Lincoln MacCauley Alexander was unveiled.

Designed and created by renowned Afrofuturist artist Quentin VerCetty, the statue marks the first that a likeness honouring a Black Canadian political figure is displayed in any parliamentary setting in Canada.

Affectionately known as “Linc,” Alexander was a trailblazing member of Canada’s Black community.

He became the country’s first black MP when he elected to the House of Commons in 1968 after winning as the PC candidate in the Hamilton West riding.

Alexander, who died on Oct. 19, 2012 at the age of 90, was also the first Black viceregal in Canada serving as Ontario’s 24th lieutenant governor from 1985 to 1991.

He was also a former Chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

Bronze bust honouring Lincoln M. Alexander unveiled at Queen’s Park

Today’s gathering was hosted by the Ted Arnott, the Speaker of the Ontario Legislature, in collaboration with the LINC Committee, and held on what would have been Alexander’s 102nd birthday.

This day is also especially significant as it’s the 10th anniversary of Lincoln Alexander Day in Canada, the event’s master of ceremonies, long-time journalist Dwight Drummond, told those in attendance.

Drummond said that the statue of Lincoln Alexander creates a permanent commemoration, one that puts him in a “place of honour” at Queen’s Park and honours “the man whose life was an exemplary example of service, humility, dedication, and a commitment to community and always fighting for racial equity in our country, Canada.”

“This bust will also be a beacon of inspiration to the thousands of school children, especially children of racialized communities and their teachers that visit Queen’s Park for school trips,” Drummond added.

Calling Alexander one of Canada’s finest public servants, Arnott said that Linc’s “personal decency and trailblazing accomplishments” continue to inspire everyone to this day.

He also said that it is “fitting and appropriate” to display Alexander’s likeness at Queens Park so that a new generation of Canadians can learn about the “man he was and the timeless values that he lived by.”

Arnott went on to say that Alexander’s life was an example of service, perseverance,  humility, humanity, and the principles that we should all aspire to embody. He also said that Alexander inspired thousands of young Canadians with his life story and his example of overcoming discrimination.

Speaker of the House of Commons Greg Fergus, the first Black person to ever hold this role, said that while he never had the chance to meet Linc in person, he greatly benefitted, like many, from “this man of firsts” and self-described “dignified populist.”

“(Alexander) devoted his life to Canada in words, in deeds, and of course by example,” Fergus said, adding that he was someone who worked hard to “bring down barriers and challenge the status quo so that everyone can seize opportunities and live up to their full potential.”

Fergus said that it’s not easy being a “first” as that comes with carrying the hopes, expectations, and dreams of those who come after you, and being held to higher standards than what may be expected of others, but Linc did exactly that, he said, with “courage, strength, and grace.”

In Jan. 2023, the LINC committee with the support of the Alexander family coordinated the launch of campaign for the Lincoln Alexander bust project at Queen’s Park.

During her remarks, Rosemary Sadlier, chair of the bust committee, shared the great pride she feels to attend this statue unveiling after a 10-year effort.

Sadlier, an author and the president of the Ontario Black History Society who was key the establishment of Black History Month in Canada, highlighted Linc’s many accomplishments and how they he inspired her to embark on her own journey of public service.

She also thanked the many people who helped make this dream a reality.

“When we honour the past, we affirm the present and we really, really underscore a hope for the future,” Sadlier said.

This project was made possible thanks to several supporters including Licensed to Learn, the Black Opportunity Fund, the RBC Foundation as well as a number of individual donors.

Alexander’s eldest granddaughter Erika Alexander was the final person to take to the podium before the cloth covering the bust was removed for the very first time.

In her brief speech, she thanked the many people who worked so hard on this project.

“My family, we’re all just so proud of this moment. It’s something that, you know, we’ve all been waiting so long for it to come to fruition and here it is,” Alexander said, adding the first time she stepped foot inside Queen’s Park was in 1985 when she was just two years old.

“And since that time, every time I’ve come to Queen’s Park I have been mesmerized. I have been inspired. I actually love it here just because I can feel the memory of my grandfather here, every time I step into this building, regardless of the reason.”

Alexander said that having a statue of her grandfather inside Queen’s Park will be an inspiration to everyone, both those who know about his accomplishment and those who will learn about them.

She went on to say that her grandfather would have been elated to see a statue of his likeness inside Ontario’s legislative building as he was someone who understood the importance of his roles and always worked to use his position to positively impact the lives of others. 

Linc bust

Artist Quentin VerCetty told CP24 that spent more than six months working on this piece, which he said he’s nicknamed Suited for Greatness and is inspired by a quote by Alexander about how every day he wakes up and suits up to be greater he’s ever been before.

Vercetty shared how he first met Linc when he attended the high school named in his honour in Malton. And despite not being a very good student at the time, VerCetty said Alexander told him that he could see him doing great things one day, workds of encouragement that he never forgot.

He said that the piece he crafted in Linc’s honour reflects the various aspects and journeys of Alexander’s life, which he hopes will inspire those who see it to learn more about him and “be great in their own lives.”

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