City of Kitchener's Black Heritage Month Fireside Chat - This event has already occurred
Tuesday, February 28, 2023 3:30 pm - 6:00 pm
City Hall Rotunda - 200 King Street W, Kitchener ON
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Celebrate Black Heritage Month with the City of Kitchener!
The City of Kitchener invites you to join us for an afternoon of networking, food, performances and an engaging and inspirational conversation with some of Kitchener’s Black leaders during our Black Heritage Month Fireside Chat - an intimate conversation with elected officials; MPP Laura Mae Lindo, Regional Councillor Colleen James, Kitchener Councillor Ayo Owodunni, and WRDSB Trustee Maedith Radlein. With special guests Councillors Aislinn Clancy and Paul Singh.
Hosted by Sophia Stanberry, Director Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives and Ismail Mohamed, Facilitator - Community Centres the event recognizes and celebrates the momentous accomplishments of our Black elected officials as part of a historic election year toward a more representative government in the Region. As well, we will look forward to the future as each leader discuses what they hope to achieve in their term, systemic barriers, and how we can aspire towards an inclusive and equitable Kitchener.
Join us on Tuesday, February 28th from 4-6 p.m. (check-in and networking begins at 3:30 p.m.) in the Kitchener City Hall Rotunda for light refreshments from The Caribbean Kitchen and Muya. As well, we will have entertainment from Juno Award Winning Recording Artist Carlos Morgan and more.
For more information on Black Heritage Month at the City of Kitchener, please visit kitchener.ca/BlackHeritageMonth.
About the speakers
MPP Laura Mae Lindo:
Laura Mae Lindo, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener Centre, is a respected activist and educator who holds both a Masters and PhD in Education. Her commitment to building inclusive communities both within and outside of educational environments is grounded in her experience with putting anti-oppression theories into practice. Laura Mae is a knowledgeable advocate for the rights of women and girls, a respected ally to marginalized community members, and, most importantly, a courageous public speaker on issues often left unaddressed in the mainstream.
In 2019, the Leader of the Official Opposition appointed her as Chair of Official Opposition’s first Black Caucus whose role included collaborating with Black communities to address systemic anti-Black racism in Ontario. Laura Mae is currently the Official Opposition Critic for Anti-Racism and Equity as well as Colleges and Universities, and she is the Vice Chair of the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy.
Councillor Colleen James:
Colleen James was elected to Regional Council in October 2022, representing City of Kitchener residents. Colleen’s professional career includes more than 15 years of experience in municipal government at both the city and regional levels.
As the founder of Divonify Incorporated, Colleen is a leading consultant on equity and inclusion. Locally, nationally, and internationally, Colleen partners with a wide range of public, private, and not-for-profit organizations and businesses that are committed to change. Colleen’s values are central to her work as a leader. These values determine her approach to making decisions as a Councillor on behalf of the community. These values include building trusted relationships; having equity-informed community discussions; listening and collaborating; empowering and amplifying; taking meaningful action, and being accountable.
Colleen graduated from the University of Toronto with an Honours B.A. in history, political science, and Caribbean studies. She holds a master’s degree in leadership, higher, and adult education from U of T’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). In 2020, the Canada International Black Women Event named Colleen one of the Top 100 Black Women to Watch. In 2021, she was named one of the Top 25 Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Persons of the Year by the Canadian Multicultural Group. Colleen is a graduate of Leadership Waterloo Region and serves on several local boards and committees, including the Kitchener Public Library (2020-2022), KW Oktoberfest (2020- present) and the selection committee for Leadership Waterloo Region (2019-present). She is also involved in many collaborative community projects, including the Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region, where she established the James STEM scholarship. Born and raised in Kitchener, Colleen’s family immigrated to Waterloo Region more than 50 years ago. She currently lives in Kitchener with her partner Daren and daughter Maleigha.
Councillor Ayo Owodunni:
Ayo Owodunni moved to Kitchener with his family from Lagos, Nigeria in 2016. Prior to being elected to Kitchener City Council in 2022, he obtained a Masters in Business Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) from the University of Waterloo and a Certificate in Adult Education from George Brown College, Toronto. Ayo worked as a Consultant, Facilitator, and Learning Development leader in organizations like Eagles Flight, BPTN, STRIVE! and Farmboy. Ayo also ran his own training and consulting outfit where he helped clients in Nigeria and Kenya build internal leadership capacity and culture.
Ayo is a husband and a father of two young children and he’s very active as a community organizer, supporting African associations and community organizations to better meet the needs of immigrants and communities of colour. He is the Founder and Co-Host of The Immigrant View, a podcast dedicated to helping new immigrants to Canada move from surviving to thriving, and regularly featured on CityNews 570’s The Mike Farwell Show. He also appeared on CBC KW Radio segments offering helpful advice for immigrants and volunteered as a mentor with the YMCA Mentorship Program. Ayo has served on several Boards including Leadership Waterloo Region; Adventure4Change; Immigrant Networks; Nigerians in the Region of Waterloo; Coalition of African Associations (now African Canadian Association of Waterloo Region).
Trustee Maedith Radlein:
After emigrating from Jamaica, Maedith's career was spent at the Waterloo Region District School Board where she worked as an elementary teacher and principal. Equity advocacy and social justice issues have always informed her decision-making and been the lens through which she practised. She chaired the teacher union's Anti-Racist Committee for many years where a primary focus was diversifying learning materials and pushing for a review of hiring practices. As an administrator, she chaired the Positive Schools Coalition, composed of community members and WRDSB staff which supported the implementation of Gay-Straight Alliances in schools.
Over the years she has been continuously involved in the community, volunteering with many organizations such as the K-W YWCA and the Child Witness Centre. Her advocacy includes issues related to older adults and the unsheltered. Most recently she was co-convener of Waterloo Region's Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group, a position she has stepped back from to allow her to fully embrace her new role as Trustee.
She is the mother of two sons, both graduates of Bluevale Collegiate and grandmother of four very energetic boys.
Councillor Aislinn Clancy:
Born and raised in the region, Aislinn chose downtown Kitchener as the place she and her family call home. She earned a degree in Business and a Master’s degree in Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University and throughout her career has worked to improve the lives of those in her community.
After university Aislinn moved to El Salvador to work in international development. Learning about the impact of war and migration on people’s lives motivated her to pursue a career in settlement services. For years, she worked with newcomers to find peace, share their value and feel welcome. Currently, she works as a social worker for the WCDSB supporting disengaged youth to achieve their goals. She volunteers with various organizations to address the ongoing harm caused by the burning of fossil fuels and combat the legacy of colonization. She believes strongly in implementing proven solutions that have worked in other cities and hopes to include all voices in building a livable city and a healthy, happy community.
Councillor Paul Singh:
Paul is a longtime resident of Kitchener, was born in India, but raised in Kitchener from the age of eight onward, immigrating in February 1988. From that early age, his memory is entrenched with the experience of having to acclimate to a drastically new climate, culture and language. He understands and has faced first-hand the challenges felt by new Canadians.
His greatest pride has been the privilege of representing Kitchener residents, being elected as the first non-European councillor to Kitchener Council or any other council in Waterloo Region. This opportunity has given him a chance to voice concerns and provide perspectives for underrepresented citizens of our community.
His efforts include championing and participating in the Mayor's Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, a starting point for the City of Kitchener to meaningfully engage in equity and anti-racism work. Into this new term of Council, Paul will continue to advocate for efforts that support an environment that provides a fair and equitable opportunity to prosper and be inclusive and, most importantly, to help improve the quality of life for all Kitchener residents.
After beginning his career in community development in Ottawa, his wife/partner moved to Kitchener where they now raise four beautiful children who inspire them to continue to serve and better their community.
For the last 20+ years, he has been an advocate for community building, with a focus on re-thinking poverty and promoting the social determinants of health. As a Community Developer and a Facilitator with City of Kitchener, he sat on numerous committees and worked on projects that reach small businesses, youth, elderly, under-resourced neighbourhoods, marginalized groups, and the disabled, hearing their voices and working to meet their needs.”
Sophia is a strong leader with a Bachelors of Social Work and Masters of Arts in Immigration and Settlement studies. She as a long and strong commitment to social housing, social inclusion, community development, economic empowerment and nearly two decades of experience delivering training and implementing programs and initiatives using an anti-oppression, EDI, anti-racism and anti-Black racism lens. Her goal is to bring transformative change to internal stakeholders and racialized and marginalized communities.
Sophia has proven track record of working to build capacity, leadership and community resilience using inclusive approaches that support meaningful community engagement. Most recently, Sophia has worked at the City of Brampton in the Economic Empowerment and Anti-Black Racism portfolio, where she has collaborated on the development of that City’s first EDI Policy, has overseen the implementation of Brampton’s first Employee Resources Group (the Black Employee Engagement Network), and has planned and implemented several internal and external events to advance equity work to specifically address anti-Black racism. In addition, Sophia has worked at the Region of Waterloo, where she held roles both in the Community Services Division leading work in the Community Housing Access Centre and later in the CAO’s office as part of the Equity and Anti-Racism team.
Solroc Music recording artist Carlos Morgan; a multi award winning talented singer, songwriter, vocalist and producer is poised to break out on a global level.
“Feelin’ Alright”, Morgan’s debut album, showcased the diversity of Morgan’s sultry singing style with seductive ballads like “Forever For You” and “When Two Become One” to the upbeat R&B tracks “Give It To You” and “Baby C’Mon”. Originally recorded as an independent release for DTone Records, it quickly became one of Canada’s hottest selling independent albums. “Feeling Alright” topped the charts at #3 on “The Records Independent Charts” after two weeks of releasing.
Morgan’s sophomore CD, “The Compilation”, which was released on his own label, Solroc Music, showcases not only Morgan’s vocal diversity but also his maturity as a singer, songwriter, vocalist and producer.
Negus Medhin is a Holistic Health Therapist specializing in the areas of massage therapy, sound therapy, fitness & nutrition. His education includes kinesiology, physical health and wellness sciences, psychology and early childhood education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He is also a professional African-Caribbean drummer, singer and performer who conducts workshops, classes and tutorials. He is the proud owner of Holistic Vibrancy, a holistic health and wellness company, which offers holistic health services and products in the Greater Toronto Area.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
1. Health protocols: We would like to remind people of the recent public health advice in Ontario which strongly recommends the use of face masks for indoor spaces. Please stay home if you are sick or have symptoms.
2. Can children attend? Caregivers, please consider the length of the event and the nature of the performances.
3. I need accommodations to attend. Can you help? Yes, if you require any accommodations to attend, please email email@example.com
4. What if the event registration is full? If the event is at capacity, you can join the waitlist. As spots become available you will be notified by email.
5. What if I registered but now, I can’t make it? If you’re no longer able to attend the event, please cancel so that your spot can be used by another interested attendee.
6. Can I show up without registering? We strongly recommend that you pre-register for the event as seating is limited. On the day of the event, you may be able to register if capacity allows.
7. How can I contact the organizer with any other questions? For any other questions regarding the event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Kitchener.ca/BlackHeritageMonth
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