BlackNorth Initiative

Toronto Business Community Celebrates the BlackNorth Initiative Excellence Gala: A Night of African Renaissance

Toronto Business Community Celebrates the BlackNorth Initiative Excellence Gala: A Night of African Renaissance May 31, 2024

On May 25, 2024, the Toronto business community gathered at The Westin Harbour Castle to celebrate the BlackNorth Initiative Excellence Gala. The evening, themed “African Renaissance,” was a vibrant celebration of culture, heritage, and Black excellence. The event brought together influential leaders, distinguished guests, and dedicated sponsors in a night of recognition and inspiration. 

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our major sponsors whose support made this event possible. Our Gold Sponsor, Fairfax Financial and Northbridge Financial Corporation, our Silver Sponsor, LCBO, and our Bronze Sponsor, Molson Coors, played an instrumental role in the success of the gala. 

Guests were treated to a delightful array of African-inspired cuisine, showcasing the rich and diverse flavours of the continent. The menu featured traditional and contemporary dishes, each crafted to honour the culinary heritage of Africa. The atmosphere was further enlivened by captivating musical performances, vibrant artwork, and fashion that celebrated African culture in all its splendour. 

The gala was a platform to honour exceptional individuals who have made significant contributions to their communities and beyond. The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to: 

  • Dr. Brandeis Denham Jolly, OD, CM, LL.D, sponsored by Enbridge, for his lifelong commitment to community service and his impactful work in media and education. 
  • Dr. Masai Ujiri, OC, LL.D, sponsored by the BlackNorth Initiative, for his outstanding contributions to sports, youth development, and his dedication to promoting African culture. 

The Youth Awards celebrated the achievements of young leaders who are making a difference in their communities: 

  • Angel Blackwood, sponsored by MLSE 
  • Sinit Abraha, sponsored by Sobeys 
  • Stephen Mensah, sponsored by The Daniels Corporation 
  • Irene Duah-Kessi, sponsored by Hydro One 
  • Husoni Raymond, sponsored by Hyundai Canada 
  • Sariah Morgan, sponsored by CIBC 
  • Jeremiah Bowers-Vandusen, sponsored by the BlackNorth Initiative 

The Community Champion Award was presented to the New Brunswick African Association, sponsored by The Bank of Montreal, in recognition of their efforts to empower and support African communities in New Brunswick. 

The Entrepreneurship Award honoured Ehizogie Agbonlahor, sponsored by Weshall Investments, for her innovative spirit and contributions to business and economic development within the Black community. 

The gala featured a distinguished line-up of speakers and guests, including The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, The Honourable Chief Justice Michael Tulloch, Dr. Wesley J. Hall, Thandiwe Fadane, South African Consulate General, Mike Fernandez, SVP, Chief Communications Officer of Enbridge, Ndaba Mandela and Dahabo Ahmed-Omer, Chief Executive Officer of the BlackNorth Initiative. The keynote speech was delivered by Ndaba Mandela, whose words left a lasting impact on all in attendance. 

The BlackNorth Initiative Excellence Gala was a testament to the strength, resilience, and vibrancy of the African Canadian community. It was a night to celebrate achievements, forge connections, and inspire future generations to continue the legacy of excellence. 

Thank you to everyone who joined us in making this gala a night to remember. We look forward to continuing our mission of promoting Black excellence and fostering a more inclusive and equitable society. 

View all images from the evening  here.