BlackNorth Initiative

Congratulations to our Youth Leadership Winners

Congratulations to our Youth Leadership Winners January 30, 2023

The BlackNorth Initiative (BNI) Youth Leadership Awards were sponsored by Sobeys, CIBC, Fasken, Hyundai Canada, and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE).

The Youth Leadership Awards were presented to Youth who have achieved recognition in various areas, including, but not limited to: academia, sports, arts and culture, or performed a noteworthy deed considered beneficial to the community.
The successful nominees were presented with the Youth Leadership Awards at the BlackNorth Initiative Excellence Gala on Jan 21, 2023.

Winners of the BlackNorth Initiative Youth Leadership Award received a prize of $5,000 each.

Fanta Ly – Sobeys Winner

Fanta Ly is in her final year of the dual Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Civil Law at McGill University’s Faculty of Law. Before law school, she completed an MSc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science, a Certificate in Social Sciences and Humanities from Sciences Po Paris, and an Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in Political science from the University of Ottawa. She is a member of several Black organizations, including McGill’s Black Law Students’ Associations, the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada, the Black Wealth Club, and Montreal’s Black Community Resource Centre, and serves as the student representation of McGill University’s Master Card Foundation Transition Fund, and is a host of the Project Umoja Podcast on the African Heroes media. She is pursuing an impact-oriented career utilizing her passion for law, policy, and advocacy to champion anti-Black racism initiatives in the education sector. Her engagements are driven by her deep interests in African diasporic livelihoods and the praxis of Black solidarity and economic empowerment.

Milen Baliho – CIBC Winner

Milen Baliho is an Honours Political Science student at the University Of Manitoba, in pursuit of a future in furthering anti-racism work and decolonization in academia. She currently works to fight against anti-black racism in academia through co-founding and co-chairing my student organization, ‘The Black Student Empowerment Society,’ at the University of Manitoba. Through her passion and dedication to this work, she hopes to create a changing environment based on building a community that helps fellow black youth to feel empowered in their academic journeys.

Joëlle Kabisoso – Fasken Winner

Joëlle Kabisoso is an award-winning community engagement coordinator, workshop facilitator and social entrepreneur. She is the founder and executive director of Sisters in Sync, a non-profit with a mission to support Black women and trauma survivors by creating spaces for them to be, become, and belong as a result of her experience as a sexual violence survivor. She specializes in areas of trauma recovery, self-esteem, community development and capacity building. She is a graduate of Western University, where she holds a BA in family studies with a specialization in family mediation from York University. For her work, Joelle has received the honour of being named 2022 L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth, 2022 Sr. Mary Lou McKenzie Young Alumnae of Merit Recipient and received the 2021 YWCA Young Trailblazer Award, amongst many.

Celeste Ceres – Hyundai Canada Winner

Celeste is an ambitious young leader with a heart for helping others. She is a dedicated community mobilizer, journalist, culinary instructor, public health advocate, and digital media maven. Celeste is dedicated to empowering the Black community through a number of initiatives, including addressing food insecurity as an advocate for Canadians of African descent at Black Food Sovereignty Toronto; teaching youth cooking skills through intergenerational and culturally-rooted cooking programs as the Co-founder of Sacraspice Community Services; and shedding light on equity topics as the Editorial Assistant at SHIFTER Magazine, a Black Canadian urban culture publication. Navigating a non-visible disability has made Celeste fiercely passionate about using her platform to advocate for those with chronic illnesses. She has recently brought her passion for the community to the University of Toronto Scarborough as Community Partnerships & Engagement Communications Officer and hopes to continue to shine a light on changemakers in Toronto and beyond.

Bunisha Samuels – MLSE Winner

The world is ever-changing, and defining those changes are the media, policy, legal and cultural industries that we shape. As a well-rounded professional, who adapts well to change and pressure, I have had experience in policy analysis, lobbying, crisis response, diversity and inclusion (ARAO) consulting, and operational/strategic planning and have led a diverse portfolio of over 150 staff and volunteers, while facilitating long-term equity initiatives and change. Entering the class of 2023 at Osgoode Hall Law School as a JD Candidate, I have also recently graduated from Queen’s University with an Honours BA in Political Science & Global Development Studies, with an academic focus on international relations, policy and asymmetrical power conflict/injustice.