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    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.

    Tropicana Community Services is now in its 40th year of serving the Black community in the Greater Toronto Region in multiple ways. However, with the emergence of Covid19, Tropicana has had to not only rethink how it celebrates this milestone but figure out new ways to continue its programming during the lockdown. Despite all the challenges that have come with this, the organization seems to have emerged even stronger and better. I spoke with Raymund Guiste, Tropicana’s Executive Director.

    In December 2016, Dafonte Miller was assaulted by off-duty police officer Michael Theriault, and his civilian brother Christian. The altercation occurred over an alleged car break-in attempt. During the altercation, Miller was attacked with a metre-long metal pipe which led to him losing an eye. The Theriaults were charged with aggravated assault and attempted obstruction of justice. In June 2020, Constable Theriault was convicted of the lesser charge of assault, while his brother was acquitted.

    (PHOTO CREDIT: Jackie Becky Media) Sandra Adjou is a passionate advocate of African culture and identity. A native of Benin, when Sandra left her homeland to study abroad in Casablanca then Paris, she was dismayed by the negative perceptions about Black people. Disturbed by what she observed, she made it her mission to change the negative narrative around the Black community by creating the African Identity Culture Centre (AICC). I spoke with Sandra about AICC and the need for a strong identity within the Black Canadian community.

    Now that the Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) has spent almost a year building its base, it is ready to reach out to the Black community. Ruth Goba, the executive director, says this is important because the legal clinic started from scratch with everything new -- space, bylaws, staff, board, and mandate.

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