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    Janice Bartley is the founder of Foodpreneur Lab, an incubator project to support the start and scale development of food products crafted by Black entrepreneurs. 

    JAYU, a registered Canadian charity that strongly believes the arts provide the strongest platform to share human rights stories, is hosting the HRFF+ (Human Rights Film Festival+)  in December. The HRFF+ is an annual multi-day event celebrating the intersection of the arts and human rights with films, poetry slams, comedy, youth-led exhibitions, awards, panels, talks, keynotes and more. The ByBlacks team was fortunate enough to speak with Desiree McKenzie, a JAYU affiliated, Toronto-born and raised spoken word poet. 

    The BLACK Legal Action Center (BLAC) is a not-for-profit community legal clinic launched to combat individual and systemic anti-Black racism.

    “If you know who someone is, where they come from, and how they’ve shaped themselves to be a human being just like everybody else, your perspective changes,” says Nadia Thompson, Chair of Black History Manitoba (BHM).

    Ethọ́s Lab is a space providing Black youth with the opportunity to engage with STEM fields and chart a career path in something that interests them. It's a direct counter to the limited access and systemic anti-Black racism within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) field. According to the Nigerian-Canadian founder of Ethọ́s Lab, Anthonia Ogundele, “There needs to be a greater intersection of culture and STEM to give more opportunities to young people for exploration and experimentation.”

    Photo: Canadian ecologist Maydianne Andrade known for her work on the mating habits of spiders. Photo by: Nick Iwanyshyn A network that connects Black Canadians in STEMM plans to hold national conferences annually to celebrate and promote them. “So, that’s going to be called the B STEMM conference,” said Canadian Black Scientists Network president and co-founder Maydianne Andrade. The name of the conference stands for ‘Black excellence in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine.’ Andrade, like the others who make up the network, is a Black scientist. She specializes in evolutionary biology. 

    It’s painfully apparent that the pandemic has had a disproportionately negative impact on the Black community. According to Statistics Canada, Ontarians living in neighbourhoods with higher concentrations of racialized people were three times more likely to get COVID-19, four times more likely to be hospitalized by it, and twice as likely to die from the disease. During the peak of the first wave of the pandemic, Black people accounted for 21 percent of reported COVID-19 cases in Toronto, despite only making up 9 percent of the population. 

    Dr. Paulin R. Polepole was trained as a medical doctor in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He practiced general medicine in Rwanda for nearly a decade before moving to Canada as a refugee in 2013.

    A growing body of research suggests that Black students are more likely to face harsher penalties, such as suspensions and disciplinary measures, within the Canadian school system. The sobering reality is made worse with the realization that Black youth are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, many of whom face charges for a wider range of offences than their white counterparts often do. Most charges are a result of altercations at school.

    Thiana Richards (photo left) is the founder of TRPR & Events and co-founder of BLACQ. BLACQ (Born leading African-Canadian Queens) is a Scholarship Organization that assists African-Canadian women entering post-secondary education and or those who are already pursuing one. The scholarship launched this year. However, due to gathering restrictions, BLACQ fundraising events were put on hold and another vision was born. The Feast launched in October 2020, and it has done an amazing job assisting others during these hard times. I spoke to Thiana about the positive changes she and her business partner, Champagne Johnson (photo right), are making.

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