Canada’s Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Minister, Ahmed Hussen, told African Canadians in Toronto that ” despite the open and welcoming country we continue to build, we see hatred and intolerance.”
Speaking at annual gala of the African Canadian Achievement Awards (ACCA) organization on Saturday night, he said that “all of us must acknowledge that the struggle against intolerance and the pursuit of equality remains, whether it is for indigenous (people), women, for LGBTQ, for racialized and religious minorities, and in particular, for black Canadians. ”
” We must better understand that systemic racism and anti-black racism exist in Canada,” he said and suggested that ” collectively, we must do better.
Also speaking at the gala at the Jane Mallett theatre was Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Acknowledging the problem of systemic racism in the society, she said :” We have to be vigilant and not fall back.”
” With what ‘s happening south of the border, we have an added responsibility to stand together and make sure that we do everything in our power to remove barriers for everyone,” she said.
Premier Wynne was accompanied at the gala by Michael Coteau, the provincial Minister of Children and Youth Service and the Minister Responsible for the Anti-Racism..
Coteau is a past recipient an ACCA award.
More than a dozen persons, many of them professional and business leaders, received “awards for excellence ” at the gala.
Awards were presented to the following:
Excellence in Arts/Entertainment -The Heritage Singers-Canada
This popular 40-year-old choir has received great acclaim for its artistic merit, family-themed entertainment and exposition of Caribbean and African culture.
Excellence in Business – Marie Clarke Walker
Ms Clarke Walker is a former Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario equity vice-president and its first-ever national diversity vice-president, she is also, currently, an executive member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
Excellence in Community Service -John O’Dell
Mr. O’ Dell is a national representative for Unifor, one of Canada’s largest unions .
Since 2005, he has been the co-chairman of the Toronto Police Service’s(TPS) Black Community-Police Liaison Committee.
Excellence in Education -Dr. Rinaldo Walcott
Dr. Walcott is Associate Professor and Chairman, Department of Sociology and Equity Studies, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, and the director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute.
Excellence in Law -Ingrid Berkeley-Brown
Ms Berkeley-Brown, the highest ranking female Black police officer in Canada, is Superintendent of 21 Division, at the Peel District Police Service.
Excellence in Management and Leadership –Mark Beckles
Mr. Beckles is Head of RBC Insurance Advice Centre and has national responsibility for managing and leading over 600 licensed insurance advisors.
Excellence in Media -Anthony Joseph
Mr. Joseph is Publisher-Editor of The Caribbean Camera newspaper.
Excellence in Medicine -Sheryl Bernard
After working in the management and senior leadership levels of hospitals for more than 20 years, Ms Bernard recently launched her own consulting firm, Bernard Consultancy.
Excellence in Parenting – Rev. Mr. Royston Jones and Mrs. Claire Jones
Rev. Mr. Jones and Mrs. Jones have been married for 47 years. Mr Jones’ loss of his sight changed the family dynamic, but he continued to work in the ministry and social services for as long as he could.
Excellence in Politics – Eric Williams
Mr. Williams is a former President of the Malton Black Development Association and a veteran Trustee for Mississauga Ward 5 at the Peel District School Board, for over 20 years.
Excellence in Religion -Pastor Kay Morris
Pastor Morris is an ordained minister and internationally acclaimed multi-award winning Reggae Gospel Hall-Of-Famer and President of the Kay Morris Foundation.
Excellence in Science -Dr. Tabo Sikaneta
A founding member of the African Caribbean Kidney Association, a chapter of the National Kidney Foundation, Dr. Sikaneta has served as a member of the Ethics Review Board of The Scarborough Hospital since 2005, and as its vice-chairman since 2016.
Excellence in Sports -Jeffrey L. Orridge
Mr. Orridge is the first African Canadian Commissioner of the Canadian Football League (CFL.
After taking the helm two years ago, the he has introduced a progressive and inclusive approach to the sport designed to further engage avid CFL fans while attracting a new generation of fans.
Youth Achievement – Remi Ojo Jr.
Mr. Ojo Jr. is an all-round achiever who has excelled in academics, sports, entrepreneurship, and giving back to the community.
Lifetime Achievement- Delores Lawrence
Ms Lawrence is the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nursing and Homemakers Inc. (NHI), a multi-million dollar company that offers healthcare staffing and homecare services to clients in hospitals, long term care facilities and various healthcare companies.’
The ACAA, established in June 1985, has recognized and paid tribute to over 400 high-achieving African Canadians.