Celebrating Black History Month In Canada: 10 Success Stories To Inspire You

Celebrating Black History Month In Canada: 10 Success Stories To Inspire You

In February 1926, African American scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) began Negro History Week in the USA. They chose the second week of February for the celebration as it coincided with the birthdays of the greatest allies of Black freedom, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. 

Celebrations in Canada began in the 1950s when community organizations such as the Canadian Negro Women’s Association recognized the significance of Toronto’s black population’s history. In 1995, Canada’s House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month and honored Black Canadians. 

Black History Month is an occasion to honour Black Canadians’ past and current contributions to all development fields, making Canada a more culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous country.

The events invite the public to learn about and celebrate African Canadian heritage, traditions, and culture. The theme for Black History Month 2023 is “Black Resistance,” recognizing how Black people have historically overcome oppression, discrimination, and prejudice.

As part of celebrating Black History Month in Canada, here are 10 success stories to inspire you. 

Janelle Hinds, Founder of Helping Hands

Janelle Hinds is the founder and executive director of Helping Hands, which advocates for youth engagement with a determination to improve the system. While pursuing her Electrical and Biomedical Engineering degree, she launched her first initiative, DeltaHacks. In 2015, she founded Helping Hands, an app that connects schools in Ontario with volunteer opportunities at local organizations in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM). It helps students give back and log community service hours to fulfill graduation requirements, while organizations better serve their client populations. They also offer workshops for disadvantaged youngsters, providing opportunities to attain their full potential.

Felicita Ovadje, Founder of Felicheeta Artistry

Felicita Ovadje is a lawyer who was trained in criminology and sociology. But she decided to open her community-oriented makeup emporium to bring BIPOC-owned brands to the mainstream market. She launched Felicheeta Artistry to fill the beauty and lifestyle industry gaps by helping put BIPOC beauty founders on the world stage. Felicheeta believes that BIPOC brands deserve recognition for their quality and strive to make the North American beauty and lifestyle retail space more representative of the multicultural society by offering amazing black-owned beauty and lifestyle brands. Their product selection includes brands from Canada, the United States, Nigeria, and Jamaica.

Chris-Beth Cowie, Founder of EMPOWERED 4X

Chris-Beth Cowie is a renowned social entrepreneur, mentor, speaker, and entrepreneurship instructor-business advisor. She wanted to develop an environment where entrepreneurs could see their worth in themselves and build a place where they could network and communicate while building businesses with an impact focus. In 2014, she launched Empowered for Excellence as an entrepreneurial leadership training company, which she rebranded as EMPOWERED 4X in 2019. They seek to make the business landscape more equitable and to assist customers in developing their capacity as social entrepreneurs and leaders by providing training, advice, mentors, networks, and funding opportunities. 

Evangeline Chima, Founder of Black Mentorship Inc

Evangeline Chima has nearly 20 years of expertise in offering transformational solutions to enterprises through information technology services, business analysis, and project management. In addition, she has extensive knowledge of DEI techniques, workplace safety and inclusion, coaching, and mentoring. Her experiences with institutional racism and bias as a Black professional woman in Canada inspired her to found Black Mentorship Inc. BMI inspires, assists, and mentors Black professionals as they strive to achieve their full potential, build community, and effect change. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the professional and personal development of Black professionals through education, mentorship, and skill development.

Emily Mills, Founder, How She Hustles

Emily Mills is an award-winning speaker, digital influencer, and the founder of How She Hustles, one of Canada’s leading brands for diverse women entrepreneurs and leaders. Emily has over 20 years of experience working in media, marketing, and communications for some of Canada’s top corporations and nonprofit organizations and as a freelance writer. How She Hustles connects and amplifies the voices of BIPOC women by presenting sold-out networking events and producing buzzworthy digital content. Emily was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women and was named to the 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women List. In addition, she has hosted a roundtable with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and met former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama.

Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro CPA, CMA, Founder, My African Corner

Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro is a certified public accountant, certified management accountant, millennial coach, and co-founder of My African Corner, an innovative digital media platform that transforms word-of-mouth marketing in the African Diaspora. She was the Toronto ambassador for United Nations Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in 2017 and is currently a CPA Emerging Leaders Advisory Board member. She is the founder and CEO of the Black Professional in Technology Network and has been recognized by Points International Ltd. for her exceptional commitment to community development.

Tamar Huggins, Founder, CEO at Tech Spark Canada

Tamar Huggins is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author, and pioneer in technology education. Tamar discovered the necessity of seeing positive representations of young girls and children of color in the tech business after assisting black and female tech innovators in raising capital to begin their digital startups in Canada. Tamar founded Tech Spark, Canada’s first tech and design school, in 2015 to empower children of color, girls, women, and teachers through innovative education. They are experts in developing, updating, and teaching inquiry-based, student-centred K–12 curricula through technology, entrepreneurship, and equity lenses.

Nadia Hamilton, President & Founder, Magnusmode

Nadia Hamilton grew up assisting her autistic brother Troy with daily duties by making simple crayon hand drawings that provided step-by-step directions for him to follow and re-enact to perform things independently. She worked as a support worker at university and realized that many families were dealing with a similar problem and that the world was not structured to accommodate their loved one’s specific requirements. So she launched Magnusmode, a company dedicated to removing the barriers affecting an individual’s ability to thrive worldwide. It provides the MagnusCards solution, a digitalized version of the hand-drawn solution she created for her brother.

Aminka Belvitt, Founder & Chief Executive Officer at Wofemtech Solutions Inc

Aminka Belvitt was born in Jamaica and raised in Ontario. She is a digital marketing consultant, inventor, advocate, mentor, and speaker, and was a former Canadian Parliamentary Member’s Assistant. She is an alumna of the University of Ottawa, Concordia University, and Columbia Business School, specializing in administration, political science, policymaking, and marketing. Her career began in Canadian politics and progressed to the nonprofit sector. In 2015, she started her career in technology as the marketing and business manager for a local tech startup in Montreal. She is the founder and CEO of Wofemtech Solutions, a virtual collective platform that connects learning and technology to benefit women and girls worldwide.

Kerin John, Founder of Black Owned Toronto

In 2020, Kerin John made a new year resolution to support Black-owned businesses. But the endeavor became challenging when it came to discovering eligible companies. She resolved the issue by creating an Instagram account, “Black Owned Toronto,” as an online directory for small businesses. Soon, the Instagram handle gained momentum, and Kerin had to develop a website to contain the repertoire of Black-Owned companies in Canada to ensure the exposure and support they deserve. Today, the business has expanded by opening two brick-and-mortar stores where customers can find products from small business owners listed in the directory.

Black businesses are a symbol of resilience and perseverance. Their consistent contribution to various development fields has significantly impacted Canada’s progress. Their determination to overcome the barrier of race and discrimination that has for generations held them and their commitment to turn their dreams and passion into reality has led to many success stories. 

Black History Month is a celebration of the contributions and successes that allow the Black Community to strive for greater heights and attain their full potential. To read more about these success stories, subscribe to CanadianSME Small Business Magazine https://lnkd.in/dbqmSKN. For the latest updates, visit our Twitter page at @canadian_sme.

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