The Globe and Mail‘s story of Ontario Judge Donald McLeod is not just about a boy who grew up “in the projects” but also about a boy who grew up without a father. Luckily Donald had a strong and supportive mother; he also discovered a male role model and mentor in Mr. Lowenstein, a Bay Street Lawyer, which may have helped to change his course. Donald, who is now a father to a 10-year-old son, still seems baffled about their relationship and the presence they share in each others lives. Donald would not be the only Afro-Canadian to grow up without a present and involved father.

Justice McLeod notes that “Absent fathers are still a difficult issue in our community. It impacts a lot on young black men. In the criminal justice system, there are a lot of individuals who do not have their fathers present. It’s something that has to be addressed.”

In his swearing-in speech, Justice McLeod said he stood on the shoulders of other black judges, such as Justice Michael Tulloch, first black member of the Ontario Court of Appeal (an appointee of the Harper government). “And so now I add my shoulders to the conversation, and upon these shoulders the next and then the next.”

Afro-Carribean fathers are coming together, shoulder-to-shoulder, having conversations and supporting one another’s role as fathers. In Toronto, the Macaulay Child Development Centre partners with Barbers and Black community leaders to offer More than a Haircut: The Barbershop Project. The purpose of these discussions is to increase positive father involvement in children’s development.

All fathers are in need of more than just a haircut and we hope to support their mental health needs every step of the way.