Black History Month 2023
Diverse voices are essential in every conversation. Especially those conversations held around the council table. Equally important is ensuring those voices are heard. On Twitter, Laurabel Mba put out a call to recognize Black people doing significant work in Newfoundland and Labrador.
This work of elevating diverse voices aligns with MNL’s commitment to advocating for local government that better reflects the diversity of our populations. Much of this work is done through the Make Your Mark brand. The most recent project, The Value We Bring, focused on the importance of gender diversity in leadership.
We will be adding to this page throughout the month of February.
Kassandra (Kassie) Drodge (she/her)
Researcher, Humanitarian, Environmentalist
Director of Education and Training, Social Justice Cooperative NL
Kassie is a biracial woman from Newfoundland and Labrador, who specializes in historical narratives, public planning, and environmentalism. Her role as an activist, researcher, and community member, helps Kassie develop dynamic strategies that connect with public concerns and facilitates solutions as a team. She has been featured in various local and global media sources for her engagement with humanitarianism, nature, and policy. Currently, Kassie is the Director of Education and Training with the Social Justice Cooperative of NL, a master’s candidate at the University of Ottawa, and the former 2-time recipient of the Donna Winslow Memorial Graduate Scholarship in Anthropology, offered by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa.
What Black Resistance Means To Me
“Black resistance is Black resilience. To live a dual reality that carries the anguish of our past as a collective and our ambitions as leaders of the next generation. To blossom, uplift, and protect Black people, in a space that was systemically made to take all Black existence away.”
Dr. Sulaimon Giwa (He/Him)
Associate Professor; Interim Dean; Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs; Cross-Appointed to the Department of Sociology, Police Studies
Memorial University Of Newfoundland and Labrador
Dr. Sulaimon Giwa is an industry-leading consultant and trainer in equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism. He is an Associate Professor, Interim Dean, and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs in the School of Social Work at Memorial University, where he has developed innovative approaches for teaching students how to understand power dynamics within society and create change through activism. Dr. Giwa is an accomplished author, co-author, and co-editor of five books that address race and the effects of racism, bring together the voices of marginalized sexual and gender minorities, and promote ideas for institutional system transformation in areas like law and order. As a thought leader in this field, he actively supports the efforts of individuals, communities, and organizations to become anti-racist through individual coaching sessions and group workshops. Due to his work in this area, he is a sought-after speaker on a variety of social justice topics, including race and systemic racism. Dr. Giwa believes that the best way to bring about lasting change is to teach people about the pervasiveness of power dynamics in our society’s institutions, and how we can use our collective intelligence to destroy oppressive systems while building those that promote justice for all people.
What Black Resistance Means To Me
“Black peoples’ fortitude in the face of adversity is a stirring reminder of the power we can unleash when we unite to defend what is just. When I think of Black resistance, I think of people standing up for one another, speaking up against injustice, and not settling for anything less than complete equality.”
Rachel Gilbert (She/Her)
Artist & Arts Worker
Rachel Gilbert is a Canadian American of mixed-race descent living in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador. She works with symbolic painting, drawing, and new media tools to explore her identity, familial experiences, and perceptions of home(s). Since receiving a BFA in Visual Arts in 2020 and a Graduate Certificate in Museum and Gallery Studies in 2021, Rachel has worked with The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, St. Michael’s Printshop, and Eastern Edge Gallery, focusing on community programming and outreach. Serving on several boards and committees, Rachel is interested in increasing diversity, accessibility, and inclusion in the arts.
What Black History Month (BHM) & Black Resistance Means to Me
To me, BHM serves as a reminder of what my ancestors went through and how intergenerational trauma from slavery in the southern US continues to affect my family and me today. As I grow older and wiser, I am more aware of systemic racism and microaggressions, enough so that I am prepared to call it out publicly and defend other Black artists and community members. To move forward, we must actively resist racism as a community through education, public programming, employment equity, and community-specific outreach and accommodations. Challenging colonial racism is an effort that involves everyone.
Abena Omenaa Boachie Gyimah (She/Her)
Researcher, Consultant, Graphic Designer, and Art Educator
Abena O. Boachie Gyimah is from Ghana in West Africa. She grew up in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region. She is a woman of colour who loves learning and is currently completing her Ph.D. in the Faculty of Education at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her research interests include visual art studies, studio pedagogy, community art hives, African and cultural studies, and Black feminism studies.
She is a researcher, consultant, graphic designer, and art educator with over eight years of experience in facilitation. She holds a Master of Philosophy in Art Education (MPhil) and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Communication Design at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology – Kumasi, Ghana. In addition, she has served as the Director for Graduate Students with the Canadian Society for Education through Art. She is currently the Managing Editor for CRAE (Journal for Canadian Research for Art Education) and a substitute teacher at Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD). She is also an Associate Consultant for Social Fabric Institute.
Abena is also a certified Early Childhood Educator and worked in that capacity for five years as an administrator at the Roncalli Elementary YMCA after-school program for K- 12 students and families. Abena focuses on teaching, multicultural and intercultural programs, initiatives, and dialogues to encourage and promote diversity and inclusion among students, staff, and families.
As we celebrate Black History month, I want to leave us all with the inspiring words of Erica Lasan, which says, “A person’s skin colour is part of their pain, their history, the expectations placed on them by the world, and their understanding of how they should move in the world. It’s a part of everything. Someone saying I don’t see colour diminishes their story and a huge part of their existence”.
What Black Resistance Means to Me
Black Resistance, as the theme for this year’s Black History Month, means to heal (let go of generational trauma, ideals and ideas). And live for yourself, stand up for yourself and show up where needed by embracing the duty of calling out to people that seem to undermine your experiences as a black person.
Dr. Delores Mullings (She/Her)
Professor of Social Work, Vice Provost Equity Diversity Inclusion and Anti-Racism
Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador
Dr. Mullings is a member of a large extended family, mother of two living Black queens, sister, friend, and second daughter and caregiver of Maddah Mullings, her original feminist. She is a Professor of Social Work and Memorial University’s inaugural Vice Provost Equity Diversity Inclusion and Anti-Racism. She has demonstrated extensive content expertise in human rights and equity leadership in community-based organizations and academic institutions providing organizational transformation leadership. Her community-based experience is in hostels, sexual assault centres and child welfare agencies supporting survivors of intimate partner violence and underhoused people and their children. Her interdisciplinary scholarship explores decolonizing post-secondary education, mothering, mental health and wellness, LGBTQ+ concerns, the Black Church, elders, migration and community engagement using critical pedagogies, in particular, anti-Black racism, Africentric theory and critical race theory.
Current research includes Black youth mental health after COVID-19 and community inclusion in small urban centres, Anti-racist accessibility assessment tools and Health Research Training Platform. She is the lead editor on a recently published text Africentric Social Work (Fernwood) and a forthcoming anthology Black People’s Resilience During COVID-19: A Global Perspective (Demeter). Dr. Mullings currently provides unpaid expert contribution to various national and provincial associations and institutions.
Dr. Mullings was born and raised on the beautiful island of Jamaica in a small rural community surrounded by love, water, sun and all things natural. She immigrated to Canada as a youth and is blessed with a large family including two living children – Black queens. She is a multi-talented, no holds bar, unapologetic free-spirited proud woman of African descent residing in the Black diaspora. Her love of water and moonlight motivates her quest to live in small urban centres and rural areas. She has been writing poetry for more than 30 years and became embolden to share her work in her academic publications, newsletters, and public presentations. Her work is an act of resistance in the face of racial injustice, anti-Black racism, and white supremacist patriarchal discourse while simultaneously showcasing love, resilience, courage, and boldness like an infectious Jamaican Yahdie.
The Canadian Theme for BHM is Ours to Tell
This means that Black people in Canada are taking charge and leading the journeys of telling our own stories. It is important that individuals recognize that Black histories and Black stories re: our stories to tell; we have the context and the content, and we are fighting to ensure that we tell our stories from our perspectives.
Dr. Zainab Jerrett (She/Her)
Founder and CEO
We Care Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador Inc.
Tombolo Multicultural Festival Newfoundland and Labrador Inc.
Zainab Jerrett is the founder and CEO of We Care Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador Inc., a non-profit organization that works to provide social, economic, educational and wellness support for newcomers, immigrants and new Canadians in Newfoundland and Labrador – especially those in the ACB communities. Currently focused on addressing gender-based violence against Black and racialized women and girls; on promoting Black women’s healthcare, and on supporting and promoting Black-owned businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Zainab is also the Executive Director of Tombolo Multicultural Festival Newfoundland and Labrador Inc., a non-profit organization that fosters and promotes inter-cultural understanding, anti-racism, new immigrant integration and retention, and to promote local and immigrant tangible and intangible cultural heritage in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Zainab obtained her PhD in Folklore in 1998 at Memorial University of Newfoundland as a Commonwealth Scholar. Before she immigrated to Canada in 1992 to do her postgraduate studies, she was a lecturer of African literature and Diaspora Literature at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria from 1986 to 1991. She taught Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada from 1995 to 2005. She was President of African and Canadian Association of Newfoundland and Labrador from 2006 – 2009.
She is the recipient of Memorial University of Newfoundland’s 2022 Outstanding Community Service Award. Zainab is one of the pioneer Black Entrepreneurs in Newfoundland and Labrador. She is the owner and operator of International Food and Craft Expo Inc and Multi Ethnic Food Kitchen.
BruceM8 is an international artist and producer based in Newfoundland and Labrador. He combines abstract R&B and brash hip-hop to create an all-encompassing musical experience.
His music is characterized by its catchy hooks, hazy melodies, intelligent lyricism and his ability to fuse different genres together. He is known for creating thought-provoking, genre-defying music that incorporates elements of hip-hop, pop, R&;B and afrobeats.
His releases — Stay Awake EP and Pain Pack EP — have earned him critical acclaim and stream numbers in the hundreds of thousands. As a producer, BruceM8 has collaborated with over a hundred artists from around the world.
Aside from his music career, BruceM8 is an active member of the St. John’s hip-hop community.
He has used his platform to spread awareness about social injustice and inequality, and has taken part in various rallies and initiatives. He has also created music development initiatives that help youth and minorities.
What Black Resistance during Black History Month Means to Me as a Black Artist
Black History Month is an important time for reflection and celebration of the many contributions made by black people to the nation’s history and culture. In my opinion, it is a time to remember and honor both past and present struggles as well as successes.
As a black artist, I am aware of the numerous difficulties that black people have encountered throughout history, particularly in the creative arts. From slave songs to modern musical geniuses, black people have faced and overcome enormous discrimination and injustice in every field.
During Black History Month, I celebrate black people’s perseverance and resistance, as well as the progress we have made. As an artist, this is a time to express gratitude to the many icons who have inspired and encouraged me, ranging from songwriters, rappers, and singers to painters and photographers.
At the same time, I am aware that there is much more to be done. This is what motivates me to urge people to be resistant. Resistance entails actively engaging in practices that oppose oppressive structures and institutions. For me, resistance means harnessing the force that comes from the struggles that black people experience in order to build a sense of creative emancipation. It means using my platform to raise awareness and to assist other artists in overcoming the same obstacles that I have.
Black History Month serves as a timely reminder to be resilient and to recognize that black history is constantly being created. I am honored to be a part of black history, as well as to be resistant this month and every month.
Kenneth Kosisochukwu Nwankwo(He /Him)
Founder, Techleft Solutions Inc.
I moved to NL from Nigeria in 2018. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (formerly Anambra State University) in Nigeria, a Master’s degree in Oil and Gas Engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, and a Certificate in Business Administration from York University in Canada. I co-founded Techleft Solutions Inc at www.techleft.com, and I am also working on another startup Nwankwo Metaverse Record as the founder. I am a serial volunteer- I was the number two (2nd) Corps member of Uyo zone by appointment as the Assistant Liaison Officer during my national service year in Nigeria in 2018. I am a Bronze, Silver, and Gold awardee of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Student Volunteer Bureau 2019/2020 volunteer awards. I am a member of the Nigerian-Canadian Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.
What Black resistance means to me:
You would agree that Black resistance has been changing since 1526, with shifts from slavery to inequality, segregation, discrimination, and police violence, to name a few.
Even with demonstrations and symbolic movements still a way of projecting Black resistance, in recent years I think the resistance struggle has led to Black people becoming police officers (which is a welcome development), Black people being in pursuit to meet virtually all requirements listed on a job ad before attempting to apply so as even to stand a chance of competing with people with lower experience and all (promoting unhealthy supremacy), and Black people taking routes that leads to policy-making to help bring change (which is positive).
Lately, there has been progress from various resistance approaches, but there is still a lot to be done by the wider community, primarily on nonviolent actions. And amongst the needed changes is that we need to see more inclusivity at workplace management levels in our community.
King Sway is a Zimbabwean rapper, singer, songwriter, TV personality and producer based in Atlantic Canada. He is known for his witty wordplay, curious sound, and creative style that combine stories of pain throughout his life and a sense of uneasiness with melodies that hit the heart at just the right spot. Sway’s sound transcends any particular genre, known for crossing over from pop rap to trap, dancehall, R&B and Pop. He has named artists such as Drake, Lil Wayne, POPCAAN, Big Sean, Tory Lanez and local musicians as influences on his style and music.
What does black resistance mean to me?
I think it’s the perseverance that you have to have on a daily basis as a person of colour. The determination to get through the visible and invisible obstacles and barriers that present themselves. It’s that daily fight to hold on to our cultures, our values and beliefs, and most importantly each other.
Dr Ogunyemi (He/Him)
Dr Ogunyemi is a Physician Leader, Writer, Keynote & Public Speaker, Senior Academic Administrator, Double Board-certified Dermatologist, Board Director (ICD.D) and an Anti-Racism educator & advisor for provincial & national medical, educational, professional & governmental organizations.
He speaks, researches, writes & advocates at the intersections of health, anti-racism, diversity and leadership and has authored publications for The New York Times, Huffington Post, Globe & Mail, CBC, Vancouver Sun, and National Post, among other outlets. Sought after for knowledge, training and lived experience, he has been quoted or featured in Global News, Chatelaine, Flare, CTV, & the Toronto Star.
He earned an Hon BSc in Sociology & Medical Science from Western University before his MD at Memorial University where he served as Medical Society President, followed by a Dermatology specialization at UBC where he was Chief Resident. He completed a Certificate in Medical Teaching & Graduate Diploma in Epidemiology at Memorial & Director Education Program at Alberta School of Business, attaining the ICD.D designation.
As the inaugural Assistant Dean, Social Accountability he provides oversight on the development and implementation of Social Accountability initiatives within the Faculty of Medicine in the areas of Health Equity, Indigenous Health, Global Health & Community Engagement.
Black history month is a time to reflect both on how much progress Black Canadians have made but also how much more there is left to do. Black resistance relates to the ongoing fight against racism and racial inequality in all its forms.
I see struggle against racism as being linked to a resistance against transphobia, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, islamophobia, and colonialism; because inequality manifests in many forms, we must tackle the status quo to resist all of these inter-related forms of oppression.
To create change, it is important to work constructively with leadership who set the agenda for influential organization in medical education. In this vein, I am active on the national level as a faculty Member of the Royal College of Physician and Surgeons’ Anti-Black Racism Accreditation Working Group as well as Memorial University’s representative of the Association of Faculty of Medicine’s newly-formed Black Health Committee. In the former, we are working with medical education leadership, under the direction of the University of Calgary’s Dr Kanin Osei-Tutu to embed policies to promote residency environments that are free of racism.
Beside my policy-related work, I think that changing viewpoints one person at a time is also important. This guides my work in public speaking and writing in the areas of Anti-Racism, Diversity, Inclusion and Allyship.
CEO & Founder of Metricsflow
Metricsflow is a privacy-friendly cookieless analytics software for enterprise marketing teams. He holds a B.Eng in Electrical Engineering from Memorial University and is a board member at the Canadian Marketing Association.
Our stories and journey are ours to tell. This February is a time for Black people to be grateful for how far we have come as a race and to remain hopeful for the bright future that lies ahead.
History often solely remembers our ancestors as slaves. Although we may be centuries behind, we have contributed towards building the global economy that is often overlooked by not being acknowledged or documented. With that said, we are proud of our achievements and contributions and continue to persevere towards making the world a better place.
Founder, CEO Sharing Our Cultures
Lloydetta Quaicoe is the founder and CEO of Sharing Our Cultures Inc., a not-for-profit organization dedicated to engaging school children and youth in intercultural learning and providing opportunities for them to develop a sense of belonging in Newfoundland and Labrador. She also hosts a television program on Rogers TV which highlights the contributions of individuals from diverse cultures to the sociocultural and economic development of the province.
In 2019, Lloydetta was invested into the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador and received Canada’s Volunteer Awards for Community Leader in the Atlantic region. She holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of South Australia. She is Chair of the OMNI East Advisory Council for Ontario and Atlantic Provinces and Co-Chair of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police NL Black Engagement Steering Committee.
What Black Resistance means to me
Black Resistance is my non-violent response to anti-Black racism, discrimination, and systemic barriers in our society. It means doing all that I can to create awareness and change the ideologies, policies, and practices that marginalize, disenfranchise, and suppress Black people.
Vincent Estick (He/Him)
Founder, iDeale Group
Known as a starter Born of Caribbean roots, raised in Ontario, Canada; Vincent has lived and learned in the US, East Africa and EU for some 45 years, relocating to Newfoundland eleven years ago. As a 20 year tech industry Senior Executive fortunate enough to learn from and work with Fortune 100 & 500 companies such as General Motors, IBM, JD Edward’s, Sprint Canada, SHL Systemhouse. Industries served: Fintech, Automotive, Telco, Mobile, Enterprise software, SaaS and Marketing Services.
Bitten by the start-up bug in 2002m he had a series of successful startups and has helped more than a dozen companies position themselves for acquisition.
Boards and committees: Anti-Racism Coalition (ARC), The Peoples Recovery (PRC), Minister of Education, Unity Initiative of Canada. Mentor to the Futurpreneur Program. Former Board of Director – Corner Brook Board of Trade, Ambassador to the St. John’s Board of Trade, past President of the Business Association of NL and past advisor of HomeAgain Furniture Bank.
Presently co-owns an international franchise; Founder of iDeale Group; Co-Founder the BasicSwag Group; founder of the Black Caucus of Canada; co-founder HEC Enterprises. Co-founder and Board member The AuroraBlackCaucus (2022 recipients of Queens Jubilee Award).
Tendai Mudunge made Newfoundland and Labrador his home back in 2012 when he came to study at Memorial University. Since then he continues to grow from strength to strength through his exploits and countless positive contributions in cricket, dance, circus and civil engineering. He is a Director/Instructor/Producer @jabulaentertainment
What Black Resistance means to me
For me this year’s theme of black resistance is a moment to pause, reflect and appreciate that some of the liberties which I get to freely enjoy everyday are a result of the thankless efforts and sacrifices by those who came before me.
My name is Chineze Nwokedi, a lawyer, called to the Nigerian Bar in 2012 and subsequently called to the Newfoundland and Labrador Bar in 2021. I am married and a mother of 3.
What Black Resistance means to me
Black resistance to me is fighting against and resisting all forms of oppression and injustice based on the colour of my skin. It’s more important to me because my husband and I are raising 3 black boys who I hope will one day live in a world where they will not have to fight racial inequality.
Black resistance is also developing more institutions especially in Newfoundland and Labrador that support black people and our unique struggles. I hope that we begin to highlight more the importance of freedom, self-determination and equal protection under the law.
Crystal Young is driven by a passion for improving health and wellness services for her community. She completed her Bachelor of Social Sciences, Graduate Diploma Health Professions Education from the Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). She has been working in the health field for over 19 years. During her career, she has worked with diverse populations, including people of colour and indigenous communities. Crystal worked in various sectors of health: non-profit, government and private sectors. She is an innovator. Throughout her career she has created strong partnerships on and off the job—a persistent learner.
Crystal has a degree in Emergency Medical Services Management, is a licensed Paramedic, Certified Healthcare Management, Canadian Health Executive and 2020 obtained her psychotherapist credentials. She is a professional member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. Her strength and zeal offer comfort to clients as she partners with them on the path to wellness. She is currently employed as a Psychotherapist with C. L. Whole You Foundation.
What Black History month means to me
What Black History month means to me can be summed up in three words: commemoration, creation and celebration. We as a people get to commemorate the experiences of the past, we get to participate in their present moment as Black people proud, and we get to celebrate our unique differences, diversity, inclusivity, equanimity, and equality not only for Black people but all people. So that one day this triple C affect; commemoration, creation, and celebration become a way of life.
Black History Month organzier, student
I am currently a fourth-year Political Science major, and my minor is French. I am currently one of the organizers for Black History Month 2023. I couple my responsibilities here with my role as the research and communications assistant for the office of public engagement. In my previous years, I was one of the Humanities and Social Sciences department representatives at MUNSU. Alongside the representative role, some other responsibilities that I took on include the director of research with the Black Students Association at MUN (BSAMUN). I was also a research assistant for the Stephen Jarislowsky Chair in Economic and Cultural transformation. In earlier times of my stay at MUN, I volunteered with YMCA create your own change program. The program my team decided to do was keeping the community clean. I also volunteer as a MUN listener, which I am very passionate about and do to date. My goal and aspiration are to become a successful writer ultimately. A quirky fact about me is that I write in my journal for fun and as a hobby.
What does black resistance mean to me?
I would answer that question firstly by highlighting what Black means to me. The term “black” describes a diverse range of beautiful cultures and people who share a collective story of oppression and injustices attributed to them based on many false beliefs. Black resistance represents the fight against racism and oppression by black people in Canada and the world. It represents the Black people that freed themselves from slavery; it represents Black people that led revolutions against oppression; it represents African nations that fought tirelessly for their freedom from colonialism and oppression. It also represents the fight and impact of Black people in Canada from the earliest Black people Olivier LeJeune, Mathieu da Costa etc., to modern-day Black people who impact Canada in many ways. To sum up, I would describe Black resistance as “the fight”.