Black History Award Celebration, February 9th
Often people who have made an important and long-term contribution to our communities do not get recognized. The media seems to concentrate on violence and crime. Joseph Abankwah, president of an Ontario association of Ghanaians and Rick Gosling, the founder of the Children’s Breakfast Club came together 15 years ago to change this. They set up the Black History Month Award Celebration to recognize persons of African Heritage who have made outstanding contributions to their communities. The pictures and comments in this article recognize some of these people in the 2013 celebration. It was held in the Ghanaian Presbyterian Church, Toronto on February 9th. Our elected leaders who presented the awards were Hon. Judy Sgro, MP for York West and Toronto City Councillors, Karen Stintz, Eglington/Lawrence and Antony Perruzza, York West. The master of the ceremonies was Anna Aidoo, founder of the Ghanaian/Canadian Women’s Courage awards.(Tom Kear, Managing Publisher)
From the left:
Brandon Hay, Founder of Black Daddies Club
Paul Oppong, Youth Saxophonist
Emmanuel Bhome, Headmaster of a church organist school
Dr. Nadine Wong, Founder of Children's Charity
Eric Attiah-Agyei, Leader of Ghana Presbyterian Band
Sophia Aboagye, Founder of Executive Director of 101.3 Radio FM and Executive Producer of AETV and Sankofa Radio African Station
Rev. Joseph Osei-Amoah, Living Word Assembly of God
Joseph Abankwah , Orangaizer of Black History Month for the GTA
Nana Pokuah Yamfi-Kumanini, Queen Mother Asantefohenma of Toronto
Very Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Asare-Kusi, Ghana Methodist Church
Comfort Boateng, Manager Arise and Shine Company
Jeremiah Akogyeram, Publisher and Photo Journalist of Kokorokoo Magazine
King/Ga, Nii Kwei Arku 5th
Mitzie Hunter, Chief Executive Officer, Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance
Mitzie Hunter is the Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, a coalition of senior business, non-profit, government and community leaders that galvanizes action around the tough issues and big opportunities facing the Toronto region. CivicAction focuses on initiatives designed to increase the region’s economic prosperity and improve the wellbeing of its people.A lifelong city-builder, Mitzie is passionate about unlocking the region’s potential by building strong communities and ensuring fair and inclusive access to employment and prosperity. Previously, Mitzie was the Chief Administrative Officer for Toronto Community Housing, one of the largest social housing providers in North America. Mitzie has also held executive roles at Goodwill Industries, a non-profit organization that creates work opportunities and skills development for people facing barriers to employment; SMART Toronto, an ICT industry association; and Bell, Canada’s largest telecommunications company.She is a seasoned executive with an extensive background in strategy and planning, government relations, corporate branding and marketing, communications and issues management, community and economic development, information technology, partnerships, and social innovation.Mitzie has been involved in CivicAction since its inception, and served as founding cochair of the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN). She has also served on numerous boards and government task forces, including the boards of hsi (a subsidiary of Toronto Community Housing), TVOntario, United Way Toronto and the Yonge Street Mission. Mitzie is a graduate of the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH POSTER
Superintendent David McLeod (Top Left)
David McLeod was born in Jamaica and migrated to Canada in 1975. He was appointed to the Toronto Police Service on the December 27, 1979. During his distinguished career with the Toronto Police Service, he has had assignments to Primary Response Uniform duties, Detective functions, Criminal Intelligence Services, Uniform Supervision, Platoon Commander, the Professional Standards Unit, Commander of Field Divisions, Commander of the Marine Unit, Discipline Hearing Officer, and a period of secondment to the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
He was promoted to the rank of Inspector in July, 2003 and to Staff Inspector in October, 2006 when he was seconded, as an Intelligence Liaison Officer/Advisor, to the Jamaica Constabulary Force for a period of six months. He was promoted to Superintendent in 2011.
Superintendent McLeod has been accorded “expert” status in Organised Crime by various levels of the judicial system. He has lectured on the subject extensively, both locally and abroad. He has also been involved extensively in the Service’s strategy against gun and gang violence. Superintendent McLeod is an active advocate for bias free policing. He is also a member of the Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE) and serves as a mentor to many prospective police recruits as well as serving police officers seeking promotional opportunities.
Superintendent McLeod is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition including The Police Services Board Commendation; The Chief of Police Letter of Recognition; The Eglinton Business Initiative Award for Assistance to Black Youth; The Hon. Jean Augustine Community Award; The Province of Ontario Community Contribution Award; The City of Toronto Councillors Award; The British Episcopal Church Community Award; The Attorney General Community Award, the Camp Jumoke Volunteer Award, the Bob Marley Foundation Award and the African-Canadian Achievement Award.
Sheri graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Psychology. She is also the holder of a French Proficiency Certificate from the University of Bourgogne in Dijon, France; graduated with High Honours in Teaching/Training Development in Adult Education from Seneca College; is a Teacher of English as a Second Language and holds an Advanced Business Writing Skills Certificate.
Sheri is a professional, bilingual in English and French, with extensive knowledge in the areas of business and education. She is employed by Telus as a Customer Sales and Service Representative. Sheri is the recipient of many business awards, including “Commitment to Excellence, Passion and Team Work” to support the successful launch of “Portal Login” and “Email Management,” and an award for “Providing the Most Ideas” at Telus.
In addition to her professional expertise, Sheri has a strong commitment to volunteerism, especially with youths, disadvantaged groups, and new immigrants with language barriers. Sheri is particularly interested in issues which are relevant to Jamaica/Canada relationships and initiatives. Sheri is an independent tutor who accommodates students’ learning styles in order to improve their marks in mathematics, English and French. She has volunteered at Rosewood Church of Nazarene as a Teacher of English as a Second Language; developed and facilitated lesson/life skills programs to build confidence among immigrants of all ages; volunteered as a Team Leader with Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries where she was responsible for organizing the directory, calendar and events; and volunteered as a Team Member of the Jamaica Diaspora.
Sheri was an Event Planner, Coordinator, and Supervisor for the 2012 International Music Summit held in Toronto recently. She has also been involved in political campaigns as an Office Manager, Fundraiser, and Event Coordinator.
Dr. Nadine Wong
Dr. Wong is an immigrant of Jamaica who has lived in Canada for over 20 years. She is the C.E.O of Alabaster Wellness Clinic, author of “What if your hair could speak what would it say" and “Revelation of my Hair Chronicle”, creator of Alabaster ointment of cosmetic, and founder of Alabaster Gates charity.
After graduation from Winston Churchill Colligate High School, Dr. Wong obtained certificates in Psychology and Interpersonal Group Skills from Centennial College. Her journey into the world of hair started at Marvel Beauty School; where she obtained a Hairdressing diploma and Black Hair Dressing Certification. She completed further studies in Cosmetology and advance studies on Ethnic Hair at Dudley University, North Carolina. She then became a member of the Black Hair Dresser Association (Canadian Chapter) and the National Beauty Culture League Inc, Washington DC. Through these associations and her personal quest to learn more about how hair functions, she pursued higher education in Cosmetology Science and Trichology. Trichology is the scientific study of hair and scalp and their disorders.
Dr. Wong obtained her Doctorate in Cosmetology from the Dillard University and another Doctorate in Trichology from The International Institute of Trichology, Huntsville, Alabama (board certified with the American Drugless Association). Her academic journey came full circle at the California State Christian University where she majored in Psychosocial Science. There she have obtained her General Practice Psychotherapist (GPP) and Clinical Psychotherapy.
Dr. Wong is a nominee for the Harry Jerome 2012 award, Achievement award 2003, Trichology student of the year 2002, and Pioneer Award 2001. Her personal aspiration is to unlock the harmony of individual’s mind through education on wellness.
Dr. Wong founded in 2010 the charity of Alabaster Gates. The fundamental aim of this charity is to enhance children’s education in third world countries through donations towards their academic and breakfast program needs and renovation projects to maintain the integrity of their academic institutes. This charity was created so that no child in poverty or who is less fortunate will be left behind as a result of lack of endowment.
“The only time you should look down on a person is when you are helping them get up”….Jessie Jackson.
Alton C. Parker (Top Right)
In September of 1942, Alton C. Parker became the first black constable to be employed by the Windsor Police Department. Through his hard work, devotion and work ethic he was promoted to the rank of detective in July, 1951 – which made him Canada’s first black police detective. Throughout his 28 year career Alton often encouraged other African-Canadian individuals to consider joining the police force.
Outside of his work with the force was his tremendous dedication to the community. Alton was a founding member of ALPHA (Apartment Living for Physically Handicapped Adults), he served on the board of directors of Goodwill Industries and with his wife, Evelyn, hosted the “Annual Uncle Al’s Kids Party” at Broadhead Park which frequently drew hundreds of children and their families. In 1976, Broadhead Park was renamed Alton C. Parker Park and was dedicated in memory of Detective Parker and his service to the Community.
Alton Parker was the recipient of numerous awards and recognition for his work and community involvement including the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship; the Order of Canada; the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal, the Harry Jerome Award, the North American Black Historical Museum Person of The Year Award, and an Honourary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Windsor.
Alton Parker passed away on February 28th, 1989. In memory of his tremendous work, a statue of a policeman holding the hand of a child sits in the park. It is inscribed with the words from Alton C. Parker: "A lot of people talk about doing something for these kids. I don't just talk. I want to do it."
Grace Carter-Henry Lyons
Grace is the daughter of the late Rev. Dr. J. J. Carter-Henry, former minister of the Historical Phillipo Baptist Church, Spanish Town Jamaica, designated as a National Monument. A tablet in the church-yard marks where the instruments of slavery were buried 1838. She began her musical career as an organist while studying piano with The Royal School of Music, was tutored in singing by the late Joyce Britton (a Julliard School of Music graduate), and studied singing with the Trinity School of Music. Grace is a former member of The Jamaica Folk Singers founded by Olive Lewin Jamaica, and the Founder and Musical Director of the Heritage Singers, Canada 1977.
In addition to her musical training, Grace’s academic accomplishments include real estate professional courses at the Ontario Real Estate Association; certification as an Associate of the Institute of Canadian Bankers (AICB) and business courses at the University of Toronto and York University.
Grace’s extensive business experience includes a 15-year career at Citibank Canada culminating in a senior management position; former president of the Queen's High School Alumnae Association, Canada; member of the Board of Directors of The Community Folk Arts Council of Metropolitan Toronto and a successful 29 year career as a Real Estate Professional.
Grace has received many professional and community service awards including: Chairperson, Founder and Musical Director, The Heritage Singers; Woman of Excellence Awardfrom the Congress of Black Women of Canada, Durham Chapter, 2000; Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation, Community Policing Support Unit, 2001; The Ajax Race Relations Committee, 2002; the Harry Jerome Award, 2002; shared the stage with Michael Lee-Chin who won for Business Leader of the decade; listed in the book Who’s Who in Black Canada 2002, Single Parent of the Year, African Canadian Achievement Awards, 2003; The Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Jamaica, 2003; Pacesetter Award - Presented by PACE Canada 2010; The Jamaica 50th Celebration Inc - to The Heritage Singers for 35 years of keeping Jamaica’s folkloric musical traditions alive in Canada and throughout the world, August 2012.
Beryl Walker grew up in Trinidad with five siblings and a single mother. She saw firsthand how difficult it can be to find enough money for school. Now, as a registration and records advisor in Seneca’s Faculty of Continuing Education, she has taken it upon herself to help students facing similar circumstances.
Beryl describes how “blessed” she feels to be working and living in Canada and realizes that many are not as fortunate as she is. Looking for a way to make a difference, she decided to help lessen one of the students’ biggest economic barriers: transportation.
Since 2010, Beryl has donated a monthly TTC Metro Pass to a student who is experiencing financial hardship. With free access to public transportation, the students can feel more in control of their lives and concentrate more on doing well in the classroom.
“They can jump on the bus anytime, day or night,” said Beryl. “They can come to class without worrying, “How am I going to get there?” I am always wondering, “How can I help?” she said. “I just wanted to give to students. They appreciate it so much.
To follow in Beryl’s footsteps and support a Seneca College student, make a donation to the Seneca Annual Fund online at: https://www.senecac.on.ca/senecadonations/
In 2007, Brandon Hay founded the Black Daddies Club (BDC) in response to the lack of forums and spaces for Black men to discuss parenting issues as well as issues facing the Black community as a whole. In 2011 Brandon joined the team of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations as the Men’s workshop coordinator. He also works as the lead facilitator of a fathers’ group at the June Callwood Centre (Jessie’s) in Toronto.
In 2012 the Black Daddies Club partnered with researchers from the University of Toronto and York University to begin Toronto’s first participatory action research project which will capture the voices of Black fathers in Toronto.
Brandon has been recognized for his work in the community by winning the African Canadian Achievement awards of Excellence (ACAA) for parenting in 2011 and the Black Business & Professional association (BBPA)- Distinguished Man of Honor Award in 2010. Brandon has also been profiled by numerous radio and television programs and by newspapers and magazine, bringing the voice of black fathers into the spotlight.
The Heritage Singers (Center)
The Heritage Singers gave their first performance 35 years ago in 1977 at Harbourfront in Toronto. The Singers started with a group of friends who wanted to keep in touch with the back-home sound and preserve their cultural roots. Since then, the Singers have developed a mandate to promote the development of Caribbean folk music and theatre and share this material with the greater community; donate part of their proceeds from fund-raising events to charitable organizations; use folk-singing and dance as tools to enhance ethnic, historic, and social traditions relevant to the Caribbean, African, and other communities and bridge cultural gaps by helping other ethnic groups become more aware of and respect different cultures.
The Heritage Singers have participated in festivals in Canada, Holland, Taiwan, Germany, Mexico and Ghana. The Singers have also presented many pantomimes for the Jamaican community. These performances have received great acclamation from the community both for their artistic merit, as family entertainment and as an opportunity to expose children to this aspect of their culture. In June, 2003 the Singers successfully produced and hosted a 40 member troupe from the LTM Pantomime Company for the production of “Miss Annie” at the Toronto Centre of the Arts. The Singers’ recordings are available on CDs.
The Heritage Singers support financially or with free performances many associations including Ronald McDonald House, the Daily Bread Food Bank, the Jane-Finch Concerned Citizens Association, the Higher Marks Educational Extension, the Jamaica Canadian Association, the Canadian Save the Children Fund Conference, community organisations, churches, alumni associations, hospitals and senior citizen's homes.
The Heritage Singers plan to one day acquire a building, to be named Heritage House, so that the following needs can be satisfied: young people will have a place to socialize and be exposed to culture through music; qualified teachers will donate their time to provide free music lessons for those who cannot afford lessons and monthly seminars on positive mind development will be held.