Charles Roach

Charles Roach

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Charles Roach was born in 1933 in Trinidad and Tobago, and after immigrating to Canada, became a noted civil rights lawyer and activist. He represented the Black Panthers and American conscientious objectors, often working pro bono.

Roach went on to co-found the Black Action Defence Committee with Dudley Laws. An artist and musician, he was also a founding member of Toronto’s Caribana festival.

For decades, Roach endeavoured to change Canada’s citerzenship requirements and permit people to swear an oath to Canada instead of swearing allegiance to the Queen, an act which he believed represented a legacy of oppression. 

Roach was one of the nicest, kindest and most charitable human beings. He was a great lawyer and a great historical figure in Canada that refused to take the oath to the Queen, and that’s why he has never obtained a judgeship in this country. But he did it as a matter of principle.

Roach was not successful in his bid change the law so that he might become a Canadian citizen, but he had no regrets, even as his health began to fail. He is reported as saying: “The struggle is the important thing. Not how it ends. It’s not whether I win or lose, but did I fight and do all I can?” Roach died from brain cancer in 2012 at the age of 79.

No comments yet