Black in BC: Celebrating Black Excellence event an inspiring evening

DIVERSEcity wrapped up Black History Month 2023 with our inaugural Black in BC: Celebrating Black Excellence event at Surrey City Hall on February 22.

This event brought more than 200 guests from Surrey and Metro Vancouver to celebrate Black talent, cultures and achievements in Canada, while creating space for connection and learning.

Audiences were welcomed by Mayor of Surrey Brenda Locke, with Sukh Dhaliwal, MP, Surrey–Newton, and Surrey City Councillors Linda Annis and Mike Bose among the audience.

Guests mingled over afro-beats by DJ Ese as they connected with Black entrepreneurs and their businesses, including Odihi Foundation and Sih’le Skincare, to name a few. Delicious Ethiopian and Caribbean cuisine were served by local vendors Di Reggae Café and Mekdese Gete Ethiopian Cuisine and was enjoyed by everyone.

Jacky Essombe, founder, African Friendship Society, took to the stage with her inspiring keynote on the topic of “Acknowledging the Invisible Success” and amplified strength and solidarity among the crowd, saying “When I see the world, I always think in terms of the village.”

The event also brought the first in-person version of our DIVERSEtalks: Conversations for Change panel events. Audiences were uplifted by the rich and impactful dialogue by community leaders Dr. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson, vice-president, people, equity and inclusion, Simon Fraser University, Anthonia Ogundele, founder, Ethós Lab and Jonathan Cauri, development director, Umoja Operation Compassion Society. Moderated by Garrison Duke, COO, DIVERSEcity, the panellists shared their perspectives on the path to supporting Black excellence for an equitable future where the next generation of BIPOC leaders can thrive.

On how Black Canadians can own our own narrative, Dr. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson said, “just be you.”

She added that it comes down to “realizing that the more we can all fully express who we are, the better we all are as a collective human society.”

To round out the evening’s program, the event brought spectacular musical and dance performances, including by singer Ahsia and guitarist Etienne Mangala duo. The celebration came to a close with an unforgettable dance performance by the Indangamirwa Traditional Dance Group.

DIVERSEcity is proud to have created a space to advance equity and excellence for Black Canadians including new immigrants and refugees.

Thank you to sponsors University Canada West, Global University Systems and TD, with additional funding by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for making this event possible and for supporting our efforts in building inclusive and diverse communities.