By Lincoln Depradine
PRIDE Contributing Writer
TORONTO, Ontario — A new publication, anthologizing the success of African-Canadian women, has been hailed by provincial and national leaders, including the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and the Prime Minister of Canada.
“100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women – 2016’’ was formally launched, last Thursday, June 16, at a gala event in Toronto.
The launch is the culmination of 16 months of work, of soliciting nominations from across Canada, and selecting the entries for the book that is co-authored by Dr. Jean Augustine, former Ontario Fairness Commissioner and ex-Liberal MP and Minister; Dr. Denise O’Neil Green, Assistant Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Ryerson University; and Dauna Jones-Simmonds, a former banker and now Chairperson of the board of directors for ACCES Employment.
“This was a task that was a labour of love,’’ Augustine said in welcoming remarks to a packed hall at the Brighton Convention and Event Centre on McNicoll Avenue in north Toronto. “It was a daunting task to select 100.’’
Augustine, who once served as Parliamentary Secretary to former Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, promised similar publications of other female African-Canadian achievers in the future, saying “it is important that Canada knows that we are here; (that) Canada knows the contribution we’re making.’’
She added: “We hope that this book would be read not only among the community, but would find its way into libraries (and) on the shelves of institutions, where they study and look at contributions of African-Canadian women.’’
The idea for the publication emanated from a series of weekly breakfast meetings involving Augustine, Jones-Simmonds and O’Neil Green, who had just moved from the United States to Toronto to take up her job at Ryerson.
“We were talking about the accomplishments of Black women in Canada and she (O’Neil Green) asked, ‘where are these women?’ And, it grew out of that conversation,’’ Jones-Simmonds told Pride News Magazine in an exclusive interview at the public unveiling of the project idea in February 2015.
“This project is all about spotlighting and highlighting the great accomplishments that many Black Canadian women have done over the past many years. Some are alive and some have died,’’ Jones-Simmonds explained. “Part of the proceeds from the publication will go to programs for Black women and girls.’’
The 100 women, featured in the inaugural publication, represent not just diverse regions of Canada but also various professions such as education, social work, sports, arts and entertainment, media, trade unionism, business, financial services, healthcare and medicine, politics and law.
They are, according to the book’s authors, “women who have created deep, lasting impressions in their chosen professions across Canada and across the globe’’; and the publication celebrates their achievements “with intimate and unique stories of their paths to success’’.
Montreal-born Madame Justice Micheline Rawlins, who was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor in 1992, is included in the “100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women – 2016’’.
Rawlins, who received a, African Canadian Achievement Award for excellence in Law, in 1997, was the first Black female judge in Ontario and the second in Canada.
“Black women matter, we are visible (and) we provide tangible proof the society is changing,’’ the judge said in last Thursday’s keynote address, in which she recalled societal and personal experiences of racism and discrimination against women.
“Black women play a prominent role as caregivers, friends, teachers, mentors and role models,’’ said Rawlins.
The book is a depiction of values such as courage, determination, strength and resilience and “reminds us of all the things the women share in common’’, remarked Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, in extending words of greetings at the event.
“In this book, we see reflected a microcosm of everything we hope for’’ as a society and country, she said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a written message reproduced in the evening’s program, described the publication of the book as an “exciting project’’ that “documents the ground-breaking achievements of Black Canadian women and highlights their role in shaping our diverse and prosperous country’’.
Other program messages were from Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne; provincial Opposition Leader, Patrick Brown; Ontario NDP Leader, Andrea Horwath; Toronto Mayor John Tory; and Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders.
The successful and inspiring evening of showcasing the accomplishments of the historical book’s “phenomenal women” — as Lieutenant Governor Dowdeswell described them — was emceed by award-winning author and entrepreneur, Itah Sadu, who is featured in the book.
The other accomplished Black Canadian women highlighted in the book are: Zanana Akande, Alda Arthur, Hon. Dr. Jean Augustine, Rose-Ann Bailey, Patricia Bebia-Mawa, Dr. Akua Benjamin, Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, Stacey Berry, Margarett Best, Yvette Blackburn, Kay Blair, Yvonne Z. Bobb, Nneka Bowen, Marsha Brown, Karen Burke, Joan Butterfield, Evangeline Cain-Grant, Nalda Callender, Audrey Campbell, Donna Cardoza, Bernice Carnegie, Linda V. Carter, Grace Carter-Henry Lyons, Dr. Mary Anne Chambers, Floydeen Charles-Fridal, Pauline Christian, Daphne Veronica Clarke, Jennifer Clarke, Denise Cole, Anne Cools, Dr. Afua Cooper, Dr. Rita Cox, Maria DaSilva Pascoal, Ettie Dawkins, Aissatou Diajhate, Debbie Douglas, Arlene Duncan, Madeline Edwards, Esther Enyolu, Wilma Francis, Janice Gairey, June Girvan, Dr. Avis Glaze, Kamala-Jean Gopie, Jenny Gumbs, Penelope Hodge (Anderson), Mitzie Hunter, Thando Hyman, Marci Ien, Angela James, Dr. Dorothy Jarvis, Avril Vanessa Jno-Baptiste-Jones, Eunadie Johnson, Lillie Johnson, Sandra Jones, Sharon Joseph, Paulette Kelly, Delores Lawrence, Enid Lee, Camille Logan, Dr. Amal Madibbo, Shernett Martin, Notisha Massaquoi, Gwyneth Matthew-Chapman, Karine Morin, Evelyn L. Myrie, Dr. Remi Ogundimu, Cecile Peterkin, Gemma Raeburn-Baynes, Hon. Madame Justice Micheline Rawlins, Cynthia Reyes, Dr. Miriam Rossi, Ettie Rutherford, Rosemary Sadlier, Alison Sealy-Smith, Terese Sears, Djanet Sears, Archbishop Dr. Deloris Seiveright, Paulette Senior, Denise Siele, Liberty Silver, Nancy Simms, Jennifer Singh, Frances-Anne Solomon, Nadine Ann Spencer, Valerie Steele, Carol Sutherland, Dr. Kimberley Tavares, Tracey-Acadia Thomas, Yara Vasconcelos, June Veecock, Nerene Virgin, Juanita Westmoreland-Traore, Sandra Whiting, Christine Williams, Dr. Dorothy W. Williams, Dr. Dorothy Wills, Carolyn Yvonne Wilson, and Stephnie Yarde-Payne.
“100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women – 2016’’ can be purchased through amazon.com and at A Different Booklist, 746 Bathurst Street, in Toronto.