BBPA Harry Jerome Awards held in Toronto

Some of the award winners with their trophies

Saturday, April 28

by Sarah Onyango


On Saturday, April 28, 2018, hundreds of guests gathered at Mississauga’s International Centre to honour Black Canada’s best and brightest at the 36th annual BBPA Harry Jerome Awards. Among this year’s recipients are popular CBC radio host Matt Galloway (Media Award); award-winning singer-songwriter, actress and advocate Jully Black (Entertainment Award) and Team Canada basketball phenom Rowan Barrett, Jr. (Athletics Award). Speakers of note at this glamorous gala included Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswel, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, federal Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, and Toronto Mayor John Tory. “Black Panther” actress Teneisha Campbell delivered this year’s keynote address.

Established in the memory of Black-Canadian Olympian and scholar Harry Jerome, the BBPA Harry Jerome Awards is recognized as the most prestigious national awards gala in the African-Canadian community and a coveted symbol of achievement. This years winners received awards in the following categories: Academics, Arts, Athletics, Business, Community Service, Diversity, Entertainment, Health Sciences, Leadership, Lifetime Achievement, Media, President’s, Professional Excellence, Trailblazer and Young Entrepreneur.

The night most definitely belonged to award-winning Canadian Queen of RnB Jully Black, whose emotional performance brought the audience to its feet – and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to the stage. Clearly, the Entertainment Award the songstress received from the BBPA was long overdue recognition for her tireless advocacy both in the music industry and in the community at large.

Ottawa was well-represented by Kien Crosse, a University of Ottawa medical student who was recognized in the “Academics” category. Recipients in this category display outstanding scholastic achievement as well as achievements acknowledged by scholastic bodies.

During his time as an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences at McMaster University, Kien Kien worked as a teaching assistant for Anatomy & Physiology and as a research assistant in the field of gastrointestinal health. He also volunteered at Hamilton General Hospital, visiting elderly patients, engaging them in specific activities to help prevent the onset and development of dementia. Kien’s passion for health and academics is matched by his passion for music, having played in several ensembles throughout his high school and undergraduate years, including the Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra and the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. With these ensembles, Kien has performed in Shanghai as well as at Carnegie Hall in New York City. He also served as the conductor for his faculty musical’s orchestra, which performed to raise money for charity.

As a busy medical student, Kien continues to stay involved in his passions, playing in the semi-professional Ottawa Pops Orchestra and taking on the role of Musical Director for the Faculty of Medicine Musical. He also continues to volunteer, working with refugee families to help them navigate the Canadian health care system.

Congratulations to Nadine Spencer and the entire BBPA team for another spectacular celebration of all things Black-Canadian and Excellent! See you next year!

For more information on how to nominate someone for the 2019 BBPA Harry Jerome Awards, please visit

Photo credit: Sarah Onyango
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