Saturday 17 February 2024

New Life Project Event Asks What Empowerment Truly Means in the Black Community

By Joy Keke, Editorial Associate

Panel members: Jacquie Dixon, Ryan Knight and Dr. Nduka Otiono Photo copyright Black Ottawa Scene

In a momentous event filled with hope and anticipation, Brenda Williams, a renowned humanitarian and visionary leader, unveiled her groundbreaking initiative, The New Life Project. On February 17th, 2024, community leaders, activists, and supporters gathered to discuss empowerment in the black community during Black History Month and celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary.

Brenda Williams, left, introduces the panel members Photo copyright Black Ottawa Scene

The New Life Project is a non-profit organization that aims to address societal challenges through a holistic approach that prioritizes education, healthcare, and economic opportunity. The company has expanded its reach to several countries across the globe, including Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and Canada. Williams, known for her unwavering dedication to social impact, spoke passionately about her mission to create positive change and uplift marginalized communities. “Our objective is for women and children to be able to fulfill their purpose,” says Brenda. “We want to build up women of virtue by having effective support systems like forums, vocational training on things like sewing, french tutoring, and entrepreneurial programs to help them succeed.”

Three speakers also shared their vision of black empowerment during the event, Nduka Otiono, Ryan Night, and Jacquie Dixon.

Jacquie Dixon is of Barbados descent and immigrated to Ottawa with her family in the late 1960s. She is a retired federal government employee formerly employed by the Canada Revenue Agency’s IT department. Having grown up in Ottawa, Dixon always felt outcasted,  being the only girl of colour in her classrooms and workplaces. In response to a question about empowering the future, she said, “reflect on your career goals and approach them positively. Society often sends the message that black children cannot achieve as much as others. Persevere through unique challenges, gain confidence through activities, and always believe in yourself.”

Ryan Knight is a young entrepreneur who works in the business sector. He has received numerous accolades, including being named on the Brampton Board of Trade’s 2017 Top 40 Under 40 list and being the co-founder of the Afro-Caribbean Business Network (ACBN). At the event, he was asked what advice he would give to young black entrepreneurs, and he responded, “One thing I always like to mention is, does your bank account match your vision? It’s important to have a clear vision of how you want to achieve your goals, but it’s equally important to have the necessary steps in place to reach your vision. Understanding how money flows is vital to achieving your dreams.”

At Carleton University, Professor Nduka Otiono is the Director of the Institute of African Studies. He has published many creative writing works and before entering the academic world, he worked as a journalist in Nigeria. Professor Otiono is passionate about education and cares deeply about black youth embracing their cultural heritage with pride. He firmly believes that education is the key to unlocking their potential.

As the event concluded, attendees departed with a renewed sense of optimism and determination from the inspiring words of community leaders. This event serves as a guiding light, paving the way toward a brighter future of prosperity and well-being for generations to come.

Joy Keke

Joy Keke is a first-year student at Carleton University completing her Bachelor’s in journalism and law with a concentration in human rights. She has a lot of experience writing, from being a school news reporter of Raven’s Call, to being head blogger of the Youth Tutoring project. She also co-hosts The Criminal Columnists podcast, educating listeners on true crime cases and their relation to criminal law. Her future goals are to use her background in journalism and law to create a positive impact in her community.