This list was compiled by Devon Haughton and Patti Ann Trainor, (with the assistance of Oraldeen Haughton) after asking members of the GTA Black community for their recommendations. This came about after the Toronto Star’s story of Ten Up and Coming People to watch in 2015 excluded Black people.
We honour all the leaders and we submit this list of 50 plus 1 as a starting point. If leaders have been left out, that was not our intention. We intend to make this an annual list and welcome recommendations from the community.
We request that the Toronto Star and other media outlets use this list to develop a story about up and coming Black Canadians for 2015.
Shailyn Pierre-Dixon: Actor/model: Shailyn is a Canadian child actor, born June 1, 2003. She began her career as a child model. Her first major film role was as ‘Kelly’, in the 2013 movie ‘The Best Man Holiday’. Shailyn landed her first leading role as “Young Aminata” in the mini-series adaptation of Lawrence Hill’s highly acclaimed novel The Book of Negroes.
Michael H. Tulloch: Judge/ Lawyer. Michael is the first Black judge appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal. He attended Central Peel Secondary School in Brampton, York University in Toronto, and Osgood Hall Law School. After graduating from law school in 1989, he became an assistant Crown attorney in 1991. In 2003, he was appointed as a judge to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. He is former president of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers.
Ricky Neckles: Public Speaker / Community Servant / President, Neckles Global Enterprise Inc. (NGE) & Co-Founder, TNTech Canada Inc., Vancouver, BC. As an Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, and Community Servant, the name Ricky Neckles is synonymous with excellence and leadership, an accomplished entrepreneur, dynamic speaker and selfless community servant. Ricky Neckles is committed to developing and empowering today’s youth.
Lyriq Bent: Actor: Has had numerous film and television appearances. Playback Magazine has nominated him as one of Canada’s top rising stars. Prior to landing a co-starring role in the drama series Angela Eyes; he starred in Devon Haughton’s Reelworld Film Festival Audience Choice Award, (2002) movie ‘Superbob’. Lyriq guest starred on the UPN series ‘Kevin Hill’ opposite Taye Diggs, and USA Network’s ‘ Kojak’ opposite Ving Rhames. From 2010–2014 Lyriq co-starred in the Canadian television series ‘Rookie Blue’. In 2015, Lyriq will be portraying Chekura Tiano in the CBC (Canada) BET television miniseries ‘The Book of Negroes’.
Warren Salmon: President & CEO, Black Board International & First Fridays/ Interim Chair ONABSE (Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators) Warren founded Black Board International, which was one of the first black-focused online services in the world, and the first one in Canada. He went on to develop the Ashaware line of Afrocentric Software that is a line of educational software programs that are used in schools, libraries, community organizations and homes throughout North America, the Caribbean and other parts of the world. In 1994, he started a monthly business and community networking event called First Fridays in Toronto. The event provides networking opportunities and regularly features a variety of businesses, organizations, professionals, politicians and artists.
Sophia Brown Ramsay: Candidate for Peel School Board / Principal Consultant: Director of BCAN (Black Canadian Action Network) Sophia has previously worked for the United Way of Peel Region and served on the Black Community Advisory Council. She is actively expanding the BCAN network and bringing together the diverse Peel community of Black people and allies to improve the lives of Black people in the region.
Isaac Olowolafe: Owner at Dream Maker Realty: Studied Economics at University of Toronto. Olowolafe has pledged $25,000 to establish the endowment fund. The 26-year-old real estate entrepreneur has created the university’s largest endowment fund for students in the African Studies program. The fund will support an annual award for students in financial need.
Lillian Allen: Educator/Poet/Musician, a leading writer and spoken artist: Creative Writing Professor at the Ontario College of Art & Design University. Professor Allen has published several books and recordings, and has worked in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, writing for children, and experimental writing forms. Lillian Allen has won three Canadian Juno Awards. An inspired strategic thinker and cultural strategist, Lillian is a leading expert on cultural diversity and culture in Canada and has been a consultant and advisor to all levels of government, to several leading Canadian institutions, and to community groups.
Lekan Olawoye: Candidate for Toronto City Council Ward 12/ Director of For Youth Initiative – an organization whose vision is to create healthy communities where youth are fully engaged and equal participants in society. Lekan is a past member of the Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities, and attended the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference in 2012.
Rosemary Sadlier: Historian/ Author/ President of the Ontario Black History Society. Rosemary has served since 1993 as the volunteer President of the Ontario Black History Society. She was instrumental in having Black History Month recognized in Canada. Through her work at the OBHS, Canadians have relevant information, displays and presentations about Canadian Black people in history.
Dwayne Morgan: Poet/ Speaker/ Social Entrepreneur. Dwayne started his talent production company Up from The Roots in 1993 while he was still a student in high school. Dwayne has published 6 books, most recently, ‘Her Favourite Shoes’. He is the winner of 3 Canadian Urban Music Awards. In 1998 Morgan introduced regular poetry slams to Toronto, and has watched them blossom across the GTA and beyond ever since. Today he spends his time sharing his poetry all over the world. He spends countless hours working with young people.
Abena Addo: Masters student at University of Toronto/ Director of Aspire for Higher Basketball Camp/ Varsity athlete. Abena is studying City planning with a focus on transportation. Her passion for sports and making sure others have opportunities has led her to successfully complete projects for youth in Montreal, Brampton, Mississauga and Kumasi, Ghana. She started her non-profit basketball camp in the summer of 2013 and last summer had 300 children ages 6 to 14 attend and she employed 6 Black Canadian university athletes. Her policy is not to turn any child away and last summer 100 children received free camp.
Melissa Toney: Founder of BCAN (Black Canadian Action Network)/ Supervisor, Community Relations, Region of Peel – Human Services Department. Melissa brought the many diverse Black voices in Peel Region together ten years ago and formed BCAN, an organization committed to improving the lives of Black people in Peel Region. She connected the leaders of the Black community via this network which has done research on the community in Peel.
Clement Virgo: Filmmaker. CEO at Conquering Lion Pictures. Virgo has also received acclaim for his work in short film and television. He was nominated for a 2006 DGC Outstanding Achievement Craft Award for direction of a television series (Regenesis). He has directed two episodes of The Wire for HBO, and The l Word and Soul Food for Showtime. His short film, Save My Lost Nigga’ Soul, won Best Film prizes at the Toronto, Fespaco and Chicago Film Festivals. Currently Virgo is co-writer, and director for The Book of Negroes, showing on CBC Canada and BET 2015.
Kike Ojo: Senior Manager, Diversity and Anti-Oppression at Peel Children’s Aid/ Senior Consultant Kojo Koncepts Consulting. Kike is widely recognized and acclaimed by peers as Canada’s leading practitioner in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. She hosted The Africa Channel’s “Neighbourhood Roots”, featuring the City of Toronto. She has done numerous presentations, keynotes and guest lectures and is the recipient of the Lincoln M. Alexander Community Award for demonstrating extraordinary leadership in eliminating racial discrimination in Ontario.
Steve Kerr: Candidate for Brampton City Council/ Youth Counsellor at Cuthbert House. Steve is a highly skilled motivator and communicator. He is passionate about inspiring the youth to pursue a life of purpose. He is able to keep the youth engaged through his story telling ability. He trains individuals and corporate teams in the art of public speaking and is also a life coach specialist.
Robert Small: Artist/Executive Director of Legacy Enterprises/ Speaker. For the past 21 years Robert Small has used his artistic talent to develop the annual Legacy Poster honouring Black Canadians. His poster has become the first truly national celebration of Black History. Robert is a public speaker who uses culturally relevant pedagogy to reach students.
Devon Haughton: Playwright/screenwriter/producer/director: First started out writing poetry, was a member of the De Dub Poets with Lillian Allen and Clifton Joseph. Wrote his first play “Big Yard” starring Oliver Samuels. Devon has written over twenty plays of which he has produced with no public fundings. His first movie ‘Superbob’, won the Audience Choice Award at the 2002 Reelworld Film Festival. Devon is currently writing a novel entitled “The Marriage”, due out this Winter.
Hugh Anthony: Director of United Achievers’ Community Services/ Speaker / Lifestyle Writer/ Higher Education Professional. Hugh is an avid learner, leader and volunteer who synergistically melds expectations and outcomes through communication and feedback. He is proficient in public speaking, presentation, strategic networking and relationship building and has a heightened awareness of servant leadership and philanthropy, complemented by managerial, administrative and technical competencies that meld living and existence.
Orlando Bowen: GameChanger/ Director of One Voice One Team Youth Leadership Organization/ Professional Athlete CFL 2000 – 2004. GameChanger is Orlando’s professional training & coaching business which includes public speaking, workshop facilitation and team-building activities. One Voice One Team delivers customized leadership development programming that makes a difference in the lives of young people. Orlando is an inspiration to humanity as he recently wrote a public letter forgiving the police officers who brutally attacked him and planted drugs on him.
Andray Domise: Candidate for Toronto City Council Ward 2/ Journalist/ Director, Techsdale.ca. As a candidate for City Council Andray managed a team of 70 volunteers and 2 full-time staff and generated over $65,000 in donations via 500+ individual donors. He ran against Rob Ford and had broad endorsements from across the political spectrum. He championed community initiatives in the Rexdale community, including a non-profit organization to stream young people into the IT industry.
Jay Harmony (aka, Jay Davis) Singer/Songwriter is an artist to watch over the coming years. Her voice has been described by audiences across Canada as unique, powerful and soulful. Raspy, yet delicate, sassy yet classy, she is a versatile singer/songwriter/actor/vocal coach. Her songs are playing on radio stations across the Canada and the United States. Currently working on an album to be released summer 2015. Her debut single “All Gone” is a fan favourite.
Unna Fuller-Fletcher: CEO of City College/Educator/Entrepreneur. City College of Business health care and Technology is a private vocational college specializing in health care, business and trades. The motto of the college is “success is your only option”- something that teachers, administrators, and students alike all live by, while working or learning with city college. In June of 2014 the college opened a new campus in North York.
Sudz Sutherland: Writer and Director at Hungry Eyes. His credits include the films’ Doomstown’,’ Love, Sex and Eating the Bones’ and ‘Home Again’, as well as episodes of ‘Da Kink in My Hair’,’ Degrassi: The Next Generation’, ‘Wild Rose’, ‘Jozi-H’ and most recently ‘Reign’. ‘Home Again’ won an award at the Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival in 2013 and was nominated for 8 awards in total.
Afua Cooper: Scholar/ Educator/ Poet/ Author. Afua is the James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University. The J.R. Johnston Chair engages in knowledge mobilization – research, teaching, publishing, community outreach with regards to African Canadian studies. She has published four books of poetry and her book, ‘The Hanging of Angelique’ tells the story of an enslaved African Marie-Joseph Angelique who was executed in Montreal at a time when Quebec was under French colonial rule. It was shortlisted for the 2006 Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction.
Lisa Tomlinson: A graduate of York University. PhD in Humanities, Educator, writer and research. Published work includes Black diasporic cultural and literary studies in Canada and England.
Dewitt Lee: Community Volunteer/ Candidate for Mayor of Toronto/ Entrepreneur. Dewitt’s community work includes coaching basketball, helping Second Harvest, ministering at a men’s shelter, and taking information on prostate cancer to urban barbershops. He also runs a small marketing firm called L.E.A.P., an acronym for Logos Ethos and Pathos. His belief that all Torontonians should have safe and comfortable housing was one of the reasons he has participated as a mayoral candidate twice.
Linden King: Candidate for Peel School Board, Mississauga/ Associate Director of Client Operations at Bell Canada. Linden has been appointed by the Ontario Government as a member of the Halton-Peel Grant Review Team for The Ontario Trillium Foundation. He also serves on the board of the Mississauga Arts Council. For the last 25 years he has worked with Arnold Hughes and Associates by creating and designing costumes for the largest multicultural festival in North America. Linden donates his time and effort mentoring youth to remain active in their community.
Fitzroy Gordon: President & CEO of G98.7 FM founded Canada’s only Black and Caribbean owned and operated radio station G98.7FM. Mr. Gordon has made history again when he was granted approval from the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to operate Canada’s first ever national Black and Caribbean television station coming this fall 2015.
Sandy Daley: Award-winning author, actress/ and radio and television personality: Her controversial first novel, “Whose Vagina Is It, Really?” has literally taken the world by storm. The book, dedicated to the single and married woman, is often discussed, argued and recommended by many, details the lives of women in a modern world. She is currently in the pre-production phase of a television show based on her book and also hopes to produce a play in the near future.
Nadia Hohn: Writer/Educator. B.A. (Hon), B.Ed., M.Ed., teaches French, music, and the arts, she has taught in Toronto public schools since 2003. Hohn’s first two books will be published in 2015. Nadia won the Helen Issobel Sissons Children’ Book Award for the manuscript of “Malaika’s Costume” in 2014. Nadia is also completing her diploma in Early Childhood Music Education through the Royal Conservatory of Music and Ryerson University.
Natasha Henry: Author/Educator/Historian/Curriculum Consultant. Natasha is the author of ‘Talking about Freedom: Celebrating Freedom in Canada’ (2012) and ‘Emancipation Day’. Her speciality is in developing learning materials that focus on the African Diasporic experience. Natasha’s Henry workshop on the history of African Slaves in Canada aims to help grade 3-10 teachers incorporate the history of slavery in Canada into their history curriculum.
Ricardo McRae: Ricardo McRae: Artist/ Co-Founder & Head of Operation Design at Wedge 15 Inc. Branding, Design Thinking & Social Media/ Director of Who’s Who in Black Canada.com. With a background in fine arts and, with over a decade of corporate sales and project management experience, Ricardo is an original Business Artist, a passionate and creative professional. He has a unique way of combining the best of art and business to produce remarkable results for his clients. Who’s Who in Black Canada profiles and promotes excellence in Black Canadian business, academia, science, arts, media, athletics, technology, law, activism, culture, community and history.
Jeff Browne: Owner of JT Dwyer & Associates for ten years, Direct Marketing Company for High End Cleaning Equipment. He sold the company in 2001 and took on a role with TYCO/ADT International as their North America Performance Improvement and Training Manager. Since 2013 and currently, Director of Business Development, Recruiting & Training for a National Security leader. Mr. Browne is the owner of Belleeny’s Martini Lounge and Restaurant. It has an atmosphere which incorporates original fusion cuisine, and a soothing ambiance.
Celina Caesar-Chavannes: Liberal candidate for Member of Parliament Whitby/Research Consultant: President of ReSolve Research Solutions Inc. Recognized for her leadership in developing Resolve Research Solutions, Inc. a company she founded in 2004, Celina is a celebrated research consultant working with a variety of private, government and non-government organizations. Celina lectures on the international and national stage on the inclusion of marginalized populations in clinical research. She is a member of the Institutional Advisory Board with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Neuroscience Mental Health and Addiction
Sandra Sylburne: CEO of Superior Business Services/Community worker. SBS specializes in entertainment and continues to keep up to date with the latest developments in all aspects of the business industry related field. The company’s professional services include consulting, special event management and planning, administrative support, letters and business representation.
Trey Anthony: Executive Producer/ Lead Actor/ Creator/ Comedian/ Writer. Trey is known for the ground-breaking television and theatrical production ‘da Kink in my Hair. The play is the recipient of four NAACP awards, was Dora nominated and has broken box office records wherever it has played. She was also the executive producer; co-creator and writer of the hit television show ‘da Kink in my Hair for Global Television. A mentor and role model, Anthony, who went to high school in Brampton, regularly visits schools to inspire youth, including her alma mater Notre Dame Secondary School.
Sherine Allison: Visionary Team Leader/Owner-Chef at Sher’s 5 Star Catering. For the past 11 years Sher and her team have offered a unique combination of passion, talent, inspiration and love through her unique palette pleasing creations. This reflects highly in the quality of her food and attention to detail with every event. Her innovation and extreme passion for her craft makes her one of the most sought after caterers in the GTA.
Garnett Manning: Past City Councillor for Brampton, candidate for Regional Council of Peel, candidate for Mayor of Brampton, Director of Garnett Manning Youth Foundation. Garnett’s organization encourages and inspires youth to consider self-employment and entrepreneurship opportunities and skilled trades as a professional option. The foundation also encourages young mothers to complete their high school and university education.
Dr. Anthony Sterling: Dental Surgeon. / Philanthropist. Dr. Sterling owns three dental clinics in the Greater Toronto Area. He is passionate about supporting the community and is a lifelong learner. Dr. Sterling is a generous supporter of numerous Black community organizations and events in the GTA.
Elvenia Gray-Sandiford: Elvenia Gray-Sandiford: Director at Transformnation: A non profit organization in Mississauga. Elvenia has devoted the last ten years to lovingly support black youths in need in the Dixie/Bloor area of Mississauga. She successfully mentored a group of ten women to pursue post-secondary education. Her latest work is tackling the problem of childhood obesity. She was instrumental in having the month of April declared Childhood Obesity Month in the province.
Mitzie Hunter: Politician, MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood and Associate Minister of Finance. Mitzie Hunter was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2013 and was re-elected in 2014. She currently serves as Associate Minister of Finance, responsible for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. She has worked as CEO of the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance. She champions unlocking the GTA’s potential by ensuring fair and inclusive access to employment and prosperity.
Desmond Cole: Project Coordinator at City Vote/ Journalist. Desmond writes about housing, public transit, policing and Toronto City Hall and covered the 2014 municipal elections. He is a staff writer at Torontoist. City Vote is a province-wide campaign to extend the municipal vote to permanent residents. This would allow Ontario’s permanent residents to vote for their local mayor, city council and school board trustee.
Selwyn Richards Chef, owner operator of the Art Of Catering: Catered and appeared on TV shows such as “I Do… Let’s Eat!” (Food Network), “Rich Bride, Poor Bride” (Life Network) and “Soul Food”. Author of The Art of Cooking-Soul of The Caribbean.
Patricia Bebia Mawa: President, Editorial Director & TV Host at Silvertrust Media & Planet Africa Group. Patricia is the host and producer of Planet Africa Television. This is a weekly series that is broadcast across Canada on OMNI Television, and is syndicated to Europe and Africa. She is also managing editor of Planet Africa magazine, a publication on newsstands in Canada and the United States. She also serves as producer of Arise on CTS Television and Destiny Television on Grace TV. A recipient of the Toronto Police Community Service Award, she was instrumental in the formation and implementation of the Crossover Mentorship program, a 13 week mentorship program run by Planet Africa Group. She also serves on the advisory board of the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment.
Marci Ien: Co-host of CANADA AM – CTV/ Journalist. Marci Ien’s career in television spans more than three decades. The journey has taken her across Canada; from Halifax where she joined CTV National News as a reporter in 1997 to Vancouver where she was the News Anchor for CTV’s Olympic Morning at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. She has interviewed Desmond Tutu on the future of South Africa, Deepak Chopraon finding one’s true authentic self, and Jamie Foxx on his rags to riches story and achieving balance in Hollywood. She sits on the Board of Dare Arts, a Canadian not- for-profit organization that uses arts education to empower children to become leaders. She is also on the Advisory Board for the Centennial College Journalism Program.
Itah Sadu: Storyteller/ Author. Itah Sadu is a distinguished storyteller and children’s author. She has worked as a social worker, community developer, entrepreneur and educator in Toronto. She was a co-owner of A Different Booklist, a bookstore that focused on finding literary gems that reflect Toronto’s diversity. Her love for storytelling has taken her into the schools where she has developed stories of our time that have a special appeal for children. In the last few years her stories, which deal with cross- cultural awareness and race relations, are being put into print so that even more children can enjoy and learn from them.
Che Marville: Vice President Ontario NDP: Communications Specialist/ Business Coach/ Motivational Speaker and Founder of “The Creative Diversity & Ingenuity Lab”/ Candidate for MPP for Oakville Fall 2014. She is dedicated to creativity, diversity, leadership and opportunities. The Creative Diversity & Ingenuity Lab develops partnerships, strategy, metrics, programs, conferences and networks that promote dynamic critical change that ignites solutions and results. Che is a dynamic keynote speaker with a gift for storytelling.
Moses A. Mawa: CEO and President at Silvertrust Media/ Executive Producer of Film, TV, Events/ Publisher of Magazines & Others. Moses’ Media Company has two television shows and three magazines. Planet Africa television and magazine promote positive stories and information about Africa. Diversity magazine is one of the most popular magazines in Canada. Destiny television and magazine focuses on Christian principles. He and Patricia were profiled on CNN and described as building a media empire. He and his wife Patricia are recipients of the Queen Elizabeth 11 Diamond Jubilee Medals for their impact in Canada and internationally in May 2013.
Angela Thorpe: Founder and Director of Reachout Committee. In 2001, in response to conflict and violence in the African Canadian community amongst youth, Angela founded Reachout Committee, a voluntary, non-profit community based organization whose members include youth from all cultural backgrounds from Peel region. She offers a wide variety of programs, services and events meant to empower the youth. Events include the Annual Walk for Peace, Christmas Party, Back to School BBQ, and Freestyle Fridays.
This list is dedicated to Rubin “Hurricane” Carter who passed away in Toronto on April 20, 2014.
No matter how hard the struggle may be, we will remember you and what is possible when communities come together. Mr. Carter was an American middleweight boxer who was wrongfully convicted of murder and later freed via a petition of habeas corpus after spending almost 20 years in prison. It was a group of Canadians who helped get him released from prison. Carter became an advocate for people wrongfully imprisoned and spent the rest of his life as a public speaker and advocate.
“To live in a world where truth matters and justice, however late, really happens, that would be heaven enough for us all.” Rubin Carter.
Share your thoughts and comments, you may contact Devon Haughton at devonprincehaughton