BlackNorth Initiative Founder & Chair Wes Hall

BNI Executive Director Dahabo Ahmed Omer

BLACKNORTH Initiative Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

by Basirat Basorun

Friday June 18, 2021

In celebration of their first anniversary, BlackNorth Initiative (BNI) hosted a webinar to showcase their achievements in an unprecedented year marked by the global COVID-19 pandemic. BlackNorth Initiative’s mission is to bring Canadian corporate business leaders together to increase the representation of Blacks in boardrooms and offices nationally, in an effort to end anti-Black systemic racism and change the look and feel of corporate Canada.

Esteemed hosts of the ceremony were Mawuli Chai, a successful creative writer, social entrepreneur and the Vice President of the Ontario Black History Society and

Jillian Danford, famously known as “Auntie Jillian.” a social media and TV personality, starring in the first Canadian Black Family reality television show.  

The collaboration of notable guest speakers and performers included Wes Hall, BlackNorth Chairman and Founder, and Executive Chairman and Founder of Kingsdale Advisors, who  welcomed and thanked all the distinguished Corporate Leaders on their bold commitment to embark on the journey to eradicate systemic racism and discrimination. Policy Advisor and human rights advocate, Dahabo Ahmed Omer, BlackNorth’s inaugural Executive Director, spoke passionately about the successes and key accomplishments achieved in the last year. Other noted speakers included the Chairs of BNI’s six action committees; they provided a detailed synopsis of their plans and programs and the direct impact and benefits to communities that need them most.

BlackNoth Committee Chair presenters:

Economic Empowerment Committee Chair:

Dwain Neckles – Vice President, Head Large Market & Global Client Group Canada at American Express

 Housing Committee Chair:

Isaac Olowolafe – Founder and General Partner of Dream Maker Ventures

 Mentorship and Sponsorship Committee Chairs:

Dr. Chika Onwuekwe – Vice President, Legal, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Trican Well Service Ltd. & Patricia DeGuire – Ontario Superior Court of Justice Deputy Judge

 Youth Action Committee Chair:

Katherine Allen – Assistant Manager, Trade Marketing, Adidas Canada

Pledge Committee Chairs:

Kelly Davis – Chief People Officer, Sunwing Travel Group & Marlon Hylton – Founder and CEO of Innov-8

 Education Committee Chair:

Gervan Fearon – President of George Brown College

William Leathers a talented trumpeter and Ontario poet laureate and spoken word artist, Randell Adjei, graced the early evening event with great performances to entertain the audience.

The evening commenced with the Territorial Acknowledgment of the traditional land, the unceeded territory of the Indigenous People of Canada. Elder Wabagun began with an opening prayer and traditional Indigenous First Nations’ musical and ancestral teachings. She chose Water for the welcome ceremony; traditionally water clears a path to respect, love, courage and humility.

The event was powerful and dynamic with each speaker sharing their strong commitment and

lasting efforts to continue to develop and nurture the growth and advancement for Black Canadians, while confronting the challenges they face.

BlackNorth Initiative is striving for excellence and opportunity to make meaningful impact in our communities, by launching programs with various grassroots communities. This fight against systemic racism is progressing through the collaborative efforts and support of the Black Opportunity Fund, Canadian Association of Urban Financial Professionals (CAUFP), Youth Council at the Federation of Black Canadians and more that are engaging in the initiative to bridge the gap.

Some notable achievements in the last year include:

  • Close to, 500 signatories in the country’s largest and most influential corporate organizations signed the BlackNorth Initiative pledge, including 30% of the companies on the TSX 60.
  • Creation of sixteen active committees with each having their individual action plan. Six of the committees were mentioned above.

Those interested in participating or supporting the initiative can inquire at the following email: [email protected], or visit their website at: