Panel members: Standing Still webinar

A celebratory and enlightening workshop for and about Black women

By Vive Akugha

Sunday 27 June, 2021

As part of its continuing public education series, the Afro-Canadian Caribbean Association (ACCA) hosted a webinar titled: “Standing Tall…Black Women’s Triumph”. This event was organized to celebrate black women’s stories and contributions to the society as well as to Canada at large. This was a space to appreciate black women and reason ways to make their accomplishments more recognized.

The moderator of the event was Rosita Hall, entrepreneur extraordinaire, bold speaker, motivational coach and Canadian best-selling author.

Members of the panel were: Ashleigh Montague, Channon Oyeniran, Dr. Ruth Rodney and Paulette Senior.

Ashleigh Montague is passionate about impacting the communities and is a co-founder of BLK OWNED, a platform to celebrate, showcase and support black owned businesses.

Channon Oyeniran is an author, historian, and an educator, as well as founder/director of Oyeniran Education Support Services (OyES). Channon also raises consciousness about African Canadian history through seminars, articles and presentations.

Dr. Ruth Rodney contributes to the community as a board member of the Afro-Canadian Caribbean Association and of the Canadian Mental Health Association-Hamilton.

Paulette Senior empowers ladies to overcome barriers while reaching their full potential. She is also the president and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

The Eleven Honourees of the event were:

-Beatrice McLean; Chloe Cooley; Dr. Tilly Johnson; Dr. Juliet Daniel; Doreen Johnson; Sandi Bell; Fleurette Osborne; Eleanor Rodney; Wilma Morrison;-Nerene Virgin; and Evelyn Myrie.

The event began after a delightful singing of the Black national anthem, Lift Every Voice and the Canadian national anthem by Pop and RnB singer, Jamila B. Jamila is also a song writer and an advocate for self-love using inspiring and positive messages in her songs.

Participants were then welcomed by the ACCA president, Evelyn Myrie, who stressed the importance of taking time to acknowledge African Canadian stories which would continue amplifying our history.

This was followed by a performance by Helen Flores, an award-winning spoken word artist, filmmaker and podcast host. Helen is a Grade 12 honors student who recently received the Canadian Viola Desmond award, for her dedication to the arts community, youth advocacy and social justice.

A descriptive video featured the contributions and stories of the honorees. During the ensuing panel discussion, participants heard the opinions of panel members on the value of preserving each and everyone’s stories, regardless of status, because it all matters. Channon stated that this was essential because documentation matters, we have to know more about each other and what we’ve done for each other. 

Ruth talked about learning more of the male contributions when growing up; women’s contributions are not taught as much as the contributions of men, which is why it should be talked about more. In her view, women, especially Black women, are often viewed as relentless. Recognizing an unexplainable spirit that makes women keep pushing, Paulette described it as “a fire that cannot be put out” because it keeps us going, driving us etc.

The panel members gave examples of ways Canadians could gain more knowledge on the various contributions of women, especially the youth.

Rosita Hall: – “We have Viola Desmond on the Canadian ten-dollar bill, what are some other ways that we can honor our black women today who have had [an] incredible impact?”

Ashleigh Montague: – “I think it would be interesting to use media, and maybe television broadcasting to continue to share these messages. For example, we have CRAVE which I think is a Canadian subscription streaming platform, kind of like NETFLIX, what would it be like if these eleven women and others’ stories were shared in like a docu-series where we can see their legacies and how their legacies have been impacting generations. I think we’ve all seen the power of sharing these wonderful stories on streaming platforms such as NETFLIX, when it’s aired and then the next day the message has just [gone] viral. So, I think it would be interesting to kind of meet everybody where they are in the spaces they are with these stories.”

Rosita Hall: – “I love that, love that. Paulette?”

Paulette Senior: – “I love that too Ashleigh and to just continue that… I’m also aware that we are in fact honoring black women. There’s a book that is called 100 accomplished black [Canadian] women, I believe, that happens every year that Dr. Jean Augustine and her colleagues put out which I think is very important. And clearly, we need to keep doing this, I don’t think we can all in our own communities and circles capture every black woman that’s done something amazing. So we need to just keep doing it,…this needs to be and ongoing effort that we’re all making to make sure that it’s part of the regular knowledge gathering and teaching that happens, so it’s not just during black history month. There’s also international women’s day, we should make sure that black women are front and center along with indigenous women and other racialized women who are doing great things that needs to be front and center as well…”

The event wrapped up with a video by Josh Taylor. Josh is a dancer, choreographer and owner as well as artistic director of the Hip-hop and street dance focused studio, Defining Movement Dance. He incorporates narratives and themes into his dancing. The video was lovely, inspiring and well put together.

Following another performance by spoken artist, Helen Flores, there was an appreciative statement from Rosita Hall to Evelyn Myrie and a closing statement by Evelyn Myrie, who acknowledged several people, including her mother as well as renowned Black community leader and trail-blazer, Dr. Jean Augustine, who was present.

The event was very positive and informative. It was welcoming and perceptive; its major success was in sharing the personal stories of the wonderful honorees as well as their accomplishments. The format was efficient and included opportunities to share opinions of the issues raised as well as comment in the comment section. The central theme was of encouragement to connect with and support each other.

About the Afro-Canadian Caribbean Association (ACCA)

ACCA continues to provide a space to belong, and the freedom to discover one’s sense of self, while honoring the community’s history and the individuals who added to its vibrancy. ACCA’s forward thinking drives and empowers its members to live lives filled with black excellence.  

ACCA Mission

To facilitate and foster community engagement and empowerment for all members of the Afro Canadian Caribbean community including youth. More information: E-mail: [email protected] Phone: 905-385-0925.

Vive Akugha is a student in the Bachelor of Arts degree program at the University of Ottawa, majoring in Communications. She writes on social issues, well-being and out of curiosity. Her major platform for writing is on as @veevehhswritings. As a follower on there, you can sign up for her email list to be up-to-date on her posts. She is @Veevehhwrites on Twitter and Instagram. Feel free to share your opinions with her as she is with you.