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.
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.
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.
Dr. Amal Madibbo was born in Sudan where she grew up and was schooled. She started her university education in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Khartoum in Sudan and completed it at l’Université Lumière Lyon 2, Lyon, in France with a specialization in French Language and Literature. She then immigrated to Canada where she became the first Sudanese woman to immigrate on her own and continued her education. She obtained a Master of Arts from Carleton University in Ottawa with a specialization in French Sociolinguistics and Black Francophone literature. She graduated with a PhD in 2004 from the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education (SESE) at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) of the University of Toronto where she specialized in Black Francophone immigration to and in Canada and race and anti-racism. Upon graduation, she lectured at SESE/OISE and Glendon College at Glendon College of York University in Toronto. She then joined the Department of Sociology at the University of Calgary in 2007 where she is now Associate Professor.
Dr. Madibbo has made significant achievements in research as she has conducted studies in Canada, Sudan, France, Mali, Senegal, Chad and Rwanda in the areas of immigration, race and ethnicity, conflict and conflict resolution, and identity. To date, her research resulted in a book about Francophone immigration in Canada published by Routledge; an edited book about the relations between Canada and Sudan published by McGill-Queen University Press; over 30 articles, book chapters and other publications; and 46 papers delivered at national and international conferences. In addition, she integrates her research in her teaching, which results in teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of immigration, globalization, and racial and ethnic relations. She also supervises students studying related issues.
Angela was a resident in Flemingdon Park from 1966 – 1981 with her two sisters Kim, Cindee and Mother Donna. She played Ice Hockey for the Flemingdon Boys House League and other select teams for two or three seasons. Angela also played Softball for the local team in the area. She attended Gateway public school in JK and SK and then transferred to John XXIII Catholic School. Once she finished grade 6, Angela attended Valley Park Jr. High School and then crossed the street to, at the time, the Overlea Secondary School. Her Mother moved the family to Georges Vanier high school, when Angela was starting grade 10.
Ms. James was a member of the Canadian Women’s Hockey team for 10 years, winning a remarkable four World Gold Medal Championships and four International Pacific Rim Championships. In addition, she was a member of the 1992 and 1994 Canadian Women’s Roller Hockey Team, which won gold at the World Championships. In a controversial decision, Ms. James was excluded from Team Canada’s Women’s Team for the 1998 Winter Olympics. Pundits were shocked because, from 1987 until that time, she had been Canada’s perennial scoring threat, no matter where and when played. She is an honoured member of the Seneca College Hall of Fame, the Ball Hockey hall of fame and the OCAA Hall of Fame, a Seneca Distinguished Alumnist and has had her sweater retired by Seneca College and the Toronto Aeros Hockey Club. In 2012, she was the recipient of the YWCA women’s distinguished award. In three seasons with the Scouts, Angela was a three-time OCAA scoring champion, two-time OCAA All-Star, three-time team MVP, the OCAA’s all-time leading scorer with over fifty goals and amazingly reached this mark while playing mostly defense. In 2008, she was one of the first female in history, to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame (IIHF). Also the Angela James Bowl was instituted, awarded annually to the leading scorer in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL). She was inducted into the Canada’s Sports Hall of fame and the Flemingdon Park Arena was renamed after her. In 2010, Angela along with fellow American, Cammie Granato was the first female to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Angela James was dubbed the “Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey”.
Senator Anne Clare Cools is an Ontario Senator representing Toronto-Centre-York. She was summoned to the Senate in January 1984 by His Excellency Governor General Edward Schreyer on the recommendation of the Rt. Hon. Pierre Trudeau. She is the first black person appointed to the Senate of Canada and is the first black female senator in North America. Born August 12, 1943 in Barbados, British West Indies, and grew up in a household that valued education and political service. At the age of thirteen she move at to Montreal with her family. Senator Cools was educated at Queen’s College Girls School, Barbados; Thomas D’Arcy McGee High School, Montreal; and Montreal’s McGill University, from which she holds a Bachelor of Arts. In the 1979 and 1980 federal general elections, Anne Cools was a candidate with Trudeau’s Liberals in Toronto’s Rosedale riding. In June 2004, after 20 years as a Liberal Senator, she joined the Conservatives for a short time. Currently, Senator Cools sits as an Independent Senator, she has no party affiliation. Senator Cools is deeply committed to the constitutional system of responsible government. She is a student of history and parliament, a diligent reader and known for her focused approach to the study of legislation and parliament. Prior to the Senate, Senator Cools was a social worker in innovative social services in Toronto. In 1974, as a pioneer in domestic and family violence, she founded one of Canada’s first women’s shelters, Women in Transition Inc., serving as its Executive Director. She assisted with the establishment of several other women’s shelters in Ontario. She co-organized Canada’s first domestic violence conference, Couples in Conflict. She presents the evidence that men and women are equally capable of good and bad, and that violence and aggression are not gendered characteristics, but are human ones, and often are a pathology of intimacy.
Arlene Duncan is a multi-talented singer and actor who works in television, film, theatre, radio and the web. Born a fifth -generation Canadian in Oakville, Ontario, her career has taken her to Europe, across Canada and the United States, as far North as the Arctic and as far South as New Zealand. According to her Jamaican-born mother, her musical talents were first discovered when she was three. Fascinated by the soundtrack album of the musical South Pacific, she would sing and dance along to the song ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right out of My Hair’, over and over, until it had to be replaced.
Audrey Campbell is a woman of conviction who strongly subscribes to the Martin Luther King quote “Everybody can be great, because everyone can serve”. A community activist with a penchant for volunteer work, Audrey has a reputation as being one who is guided by her conscience and driven by her passion. As the former President of the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA), Audrey was instrumental in transforming the governance structure of the organization, thereby charting a new course for the organization. In celebration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary, she hosted the former Prime Minister of Canada, the Honourable Stephen Harper and the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller – a historical milestone for the organization and for Canada. Audrey concluded her role as the 4th female President in the JCA’s 53-year history, and also as the longest serving female President, completing a 5-year term. Prior to serving at the JCA, Audrey volunteered as a fundraiser for Variety Village and Kids Help Phone. She’s also participated in various community fundraisers, such as the YMCA Corporate Relay Run. Currently, Audrey volunteers with Spelling Bee Canada and is currently the co-Chair of the Toronto Police Service’s Police and Community Engagement Review (PACER), which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of community recommended police reforms within the Toronto Police Service. Recognizing her service, in 2012, Audrey was bestowed a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee award from the Governor General of Canada. She was also acknowledged by the JCA’s Women’s Committee for her volunteer services.