Adaoma completed her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Windsor and has more than twenty-five years progressive experience in the not-for-profit and public sectors. She is currently Manager – Poverty Reduction and Community Engagement in the Human Services Department at the Region of Peel, responsible for leading the implementation of a multi-year poverty reduction strategy and supporting initiatives that increase community safety and well-being for residents in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon. Her work involves creating awareness among residents and local politicians about poverty in Peel, advocating to various levels of government for investments, influencing policy and program changes to social services initiatives, and, working with the community to implement actions related to social inclusion, affordable transit, food& income security and economic opportunities.
Since 2016, Adaoma has been President of the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA), a 58 year-old organization serving the Jamaican, Caribbean and African-Canadian communities in the Greater Toronto Area. As part of her current mandate, she is focused on increasing the involvement of youth and young adults in all aspects of the organization, building new partnerships, and ensuring the sustainability of the organization and JCA Centre, located in North York.
Dr. Afua Cooper born in Westmoreland, Jamaica, but grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, and migrated to Toronto in 1980. She is a celebrated and award-winning poet, author, historian, curator, performer, cultural worker, and recording artist. Afua holds a PhD in African-Canadian history, with specialties in slavery and abolition. She also has expertise in women’s history and New France studies and is one of Canada’s premise experts and chroniclers of the country’s Black past. Dr. Cooper has done ground-breaking work in uncovering the hidden history of Black people in Canada.
Ahdri Zhina Mandiela is an award-winning poet and theatre artist, well-known for her innovative theatre practice in Canada. Since the late 70’s she has worked as a
performance poet with readings, lectures and workshops around the world. As
dramaturg or director of countless play scripts, performance pieces, mainstage and
touring productions, and especially as the founder/artistic director of a current
performing arts, she has profoundly influenced and nurtured new and seasoned
artists; particularly young women artists.
Mandiela introduced the ever-evolving dub theatre form with her seminal performance work: dark diaspora… in dub, b current’s inaugural production in 1991. During her tenure as artistic director (up to 2013), she established the prestigious Aiz’n the sun training program (1999), and the much buzzed rock.paper.sistahz festival (2002). Both projects have since spawned and nurtured at least two new generations of artists of colour in Toronto, and paved the way for a lot of the non-traditional forms many Canadian artists now use in creating theatre plays.
Aina-Nia serves as a consultant and facilitator for issues within racialized, women and immigrant and refugee communities focusing particularly on issues of gender, racial equity and African spirituality. She was the Project Lead and Consultant for the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism which was adopted by City Council in late 2017. Aina-Nia was named one of the Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada in 2016 and she was recognized by the Ontario Government for her contributions to community in 2015. She was nominated as one of Toronto’s Most Inspiring Women in 2008. She has appeared in Canadian and U.S. media.
Aisha is a seasoned professional with twenty-five years of diverse leadership and business experience across the pharmaceutical, marketing, community and non-profit sectors. Called upon as a thought-leader, creative visionary and prolific speaker, Aisha has a gift of connecting narratives, experiences and ideas seamlessly with structure and strategy to energize, motivate and inspire purpose-driven action and achievement.
Aisha is the founder and executive director of Project: Restore FIBI (Families Impacted by Incarceration), a charity that has created a safe and supportive space for families to heal, grow and thrive after being disrupted by a family member’s involvement with the criminal legal system.
Aissatou Diajhaté is currently the West Africa Regional Manager for the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), implementing President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative and Mandela Washington Fellowship Program. She covers 21 countries in West and Central Africa, working with public and private sector organizations to promote youth engagement in the socio-economic transformation of their countries. As an International Development professional, with experience in several areas including Education and Health, Youth Engagement and Capacity Building, Program Management and Organizational Development, Ms. Diajhaté has managed partnerships with government organizations, academic institutions, funding agencies and community-based organizations in the United States, Canada and Africa. Ms. Diajhaté’s life mission is to educate, teach, mentor and facilitate transformative interventions that lift victims and survivors of social injustice to a position of leader and change agent.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Adv.) in global political economy. She completed a thesis entitled “To What Extent Does Resilience Theory Influence our Understanding of the Mental Health Outcomes of Refugee Youth Coming to Canada”, which explored the mental health experiences of young Syrians refugees resettled across the country. Additionally, she studied Australian politics and socio-legal studies at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia.
Akosua is a policy and program analyst with the Government of Manitoba in the department of municipal relations
As a long-time community activist, Professor Benjamin is no stranger to the labour movement. Her works and presence have greatly influenced the anti-racism policy and programs of various trade union organizations. Recently, she spearheaded the Anti-Black Racism Network to create more public awareness and mobilize efforts to eliminate the discriminatory racial profiling. In honour of Akua’s leadership and tremendous contribution to the community, Ryerson University launched an exciting initiative – the ‘Akua Benjamin legacy Project’. It is a unique recognition of the kind of activism and educational work that builds a just and inclusive community. The Project is a collaboration of academics from various postsecondary institutions with community activists from across the greater Toronto area. The primary objectives of the legacy are to host an annual ‘Akua Benjamin Public Lecture and Organize an Anti-Black Racism’ Conference. In 2016, it was held on February 18, to celebrate Black History Month. One of the initiative was to produce a document that would honour and celebrate the lives of five legendary leaders who have left a phenomenal legacy in the battle against racism and the building of a stronger community for all of us.
Alda was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia but has resided in Toronto over forty five years and her occupations have been varied. After completing a Nursing Assistant’s course, she graduated from the Addiction Research Foundation as a Counselor and worked there for seven years. Alda Arthur, a multi-talented woman of many interests was the founder and publisher of a business tabloid: Women and Business but in 1984 the business “folded”. Another interest close to Alda’s heart was the Association of Black Women which she founded in 1982. This was a club of Black business and professional women who provided support and information through business contacts and career development programs.
Arthur said the Association of Black Women did not isolate itself as a Black Group, but shared experiences with all women. The skills of the high-profile group were improved by attending seminars and workshops in the community to be used as a role model. Although the club ceased to operate in 1986, Alda continued to meet challenges on a day to day basis and is always ready to move on to other opportunities. She said with confidence at the time, “My hope is that someday the Association will rise again, in another form, by spirited Black women. It’s a need that should never die”.
Born and raised in Barbados, Alison has been a professional theatre artist since 1981. She attended Mount-Alison University in New Brunswick, Canada, on a scholarship where she studied psychology. She performed with the Pelican Players, Canada’s ‘first multicultural community theatre’. Since then she has worked with companies across Canada and in Barbados including the Green Room Players, Stage One Productions, Theatre Calgary, Canadian Stage and the Stratford Festival. Her theatre credits include “Cast Iron” (Nightwood Theatre), “The Polished Hoe” (Obsidian Theatre and the Frank Collymore Hall) and her award-winning performance as Lena Younger in Soulpepper Theatre’s production of “A Raisin in the Sun”.
She has directed theatre productions for the Company of Sirens, LKTYP, the Saidye Bronfman Centre, the National Theatre School, Neptune Theatre, Black Theatre Workshop and Obsidian Theatre. Her film and television credits include “Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures”, “This is Wonderland”, “Da Kink in My Hair”, “Dark Water”, “Honey”, “Talk to Me,” “You Kill Me” and “Naturally Sadie”. She was the voice of Storm on the animated series “The X-Men” and the voice of Scarlett on “Delilah and Julius”.
Alison has received five Dora Award nominations for acting and has won two. She is also the proud recipient of a Harry Jerome Award and a Salute to the City Award for her contribution to the Arts in Toronto, a George Luscombe Award for Mentorship and an Award of Excellence from the Caribbean Tales Film Festival.