Equity, Inclusion & Anti-Racism

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Celebrating Black Joy and Excellence

Black History month is a celebration of the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities. Celebrating Black joy and excellence is about honouring the innovation, legacies, resilience and liberation of Black communities. And you are invited to learn and celebrate with us.

Introducing our Speakers

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Dr. Jean Augustine

Read more about Dr. Augustine

Topic: Welcome Address

The Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine is the first African-Canadian woman to be elected to the House of Commons. She was elected in the riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore in 1993 and sat in Parliament until 2006. During this time, she served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Minister of State and Deputy Speaker. Among Dr. Augustine's many achievements includes leading the motion that allowed for the placement of the Famous Five statue on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and the motion that created Black History Month in Canada.

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Erica's Embrace

Learn more about Erica's Embrace

Topic: Community Highlight Interview

Erica’s Embrace Support Services is a local non-profit in Niagara that offers advocacy and donates hair and beauty care products for Black women staying in shelters across Ontario. Erica’s Embrace was started in 2018 by Erica Williams. Since then, three more amazing women have joined this organization:Chantelle Kirlew, Mutsa Charamba and Randi Ingersol. Erica's Embrace is sincerely passionate about the work they do in the community, and appreciate the support they receive from community members as they continue their journey to help make shelters more inclusive.

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Lydia Collins

Author, Educator, and Creator

Topic: Reimagining Black Joy & Excellence

Lydia Collins (she/her) is an Author, Educator, and Creator with over 5 years of experience working in HIV prevention and consent education specifically for African, Caribbean and Black communities in Canada. She has published 3 chapbooks of poetry between 2019-2021, and produced a collaborative video project Joy Is Our Birthright with UNILEARNAL. Lydia is currently the Learning & Development Specialist at the African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario. Her unwavering love for writing and community health are what keep her committed to amplifying the most marginalized voices through her work.

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Lezlie Harper

Niagara Bound Tours

Topic: Why Black History is Important

Lezlie Harper is the operator of Niagara Bound Tours, a Black history tour company located in St. Catharines, ON. She is entering her 18th year of providing in person tours and presentations, and has online tour opportunities now as well. Lezlie is a fifth plus generation Black Canadian whose family came to Canada in 1851 and settled in Fort Erie, Ontario. In fact, Lezlie has ancestors that were in Canada even earlier than that! And she will be speaking about her family's story, and what it was like in for them in Canada nearly 200 years ago.


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Dwayne Morgan

Poet, Speaker, Social Entrepreneur

Topic: The Pursuit of Excellence

Dwayne Morgan is a Canadian spoken word artist, author, motivational speaker and event organizer based in Toronto, Ontario. Dwayne Morgan is a two-time Canadian National Poetry Slam Champion. He began his career as a spoken word artist in 1993. In 1994, he founded Up From The Roots entertainment to promote the positive artistic contributions of African-Canadian and urban-influenced artists. In 2019, he founded and co-produced the inaugural Toronto Spoken Soul Festival.

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Nyarayi Kapisavanhu

TOES Niagara

Topic: Community Highlight Interview

A multilingual communicator, community leader, entrepreneur and teacher at heart, Nyarayi is the Founder and Executive Director of TOES Niagara, an organization that works with women, men and youth from diverse communities and backgrounds, giving them the Tools Of Empowerment for Success (TOES) through multi-lens educational workshops, programs, and other support services to enable the improvement of economic and educational outcomes


Matter of Black

Connect with Matter of Black

Topic: Community Highlight Interview

Matter of Black’s mission is to share and amplify Black voices, Black history and Black businesses in the Niagara Region. Matter of Black was born out of a call to action at the peak of the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM). With BLM protests happening around the world and within our own region, Matter of Black wanted to do something longer lasting than the protests we had been participating in. That’s when (with a gentle nudge from St. Catharines’ Mayor Walter Sendzik) we decided we would take on revitalizing the Emancipation Day picnic that some of our members had celebrated since childhood. Three of our co-founders – Natasha Bell, Erika Smith and Jaida Steenhuis – are descendants of freedom seekers who followed the underground railroad to Canada where they settled and began their lives as free men and women in the Niagara Region. We value creating a safe, welcoming space for Niagara’s Black community to discuss a multitude of challenges the community faces. 

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Kattawe Henry

Anti-Oppression & Anti-Racism Educator

Topic: Reimagining Black Joy & Black Futures

As a Brock alumnus with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Master of Arts in Gender Studies and Feminist Research from McMaster University, Kattawe brings a background enriched with experiences and understandings of the difficult conversations that are essential to developing lasting and effective change. She is moved by the resilience of marginalized communities and has committed her research and professional career to understand the themes of racism, mental health, and sexual violence and harassment to understand and draw parallels to the social and structural nature of racism.