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Sunday, October 25, 2020
 
 
In 1960 an illustrious group of individuals meet for a dinner party at the home of Howard and Pat McCurdy, of Windsor. In attendance at this significant event, along with their wives, were:
 
  Dr. Dan Hill, the first Human Rights Commissioner of Ontario
Allen Bourovoy, Chief Council for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Howard McCurdy, Professor at the University of Windsor
Dr. Wilson Head
Eugene Steele, firefighter
J. Lyle Browning, Businessperson
 
Talk around the dinner table included a passionate discussion of shared experiences with discrimination in education, housing, employment and society as a whole. Out of that fateful meeting the Guardian Club was formed with Howard McCurdy as its first president. The executive of the club was formed with above noted gentlemen as its officers. However, the women present on that evening played a very significant role in the development and operation of the Guardian Club over the years.

The Guardian Club brought attention to the issues of racism and discrimination in Windsor and region. Initially the group encountered the popular belief that such problems did not exist in the area. The group proved their point through a series of ‘test cases’. To test the issue of discrimination in housing on the basis of race an African Canadian couple would attend an appointment to view a house or apartment. The group would then have a ‘control’ white couple, with equivalent qualifications, view the property. In comparing the test cases it was apparent that many equally qualified African Canadian candidates were being told the property was no longer available while their white colleagues who followed them were offered the rental. These tests received a great deal of publicity in the local media at the time.

The Guardian Club was very successful in promoting awareness of these issues and acting as an advocate on behalf of community members who experienced discrimination. The Guardian Club later evolved into the Windsor Human Rights Association and was a precursor of The Windsor and District Black Coalition.

 

 

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.

 

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