Four local Black leaders recognized at inaugural Black Brilliance Awards

The Black Brilliance Awards were held at Black in BC: Celebrating Black Excellence on February 1

Kicking off Black History Month 2024, DIVERSEcity’s Black in BC event was a true celebration of Black talent, culture and achievements in Canada, while creating space for connection and learning.

“With our event theme of ‘Celebrating Black Excellence,’ we wanted to launch the Black Brilliance Awards to recognize some of the bright stars who are making a difference in the community and advancing leadership, equity, culture and justice,” said Lenya Wilks, Director, Partnership and Stakeholder Engagement, DIVERSEcity.

There are three award categories:

  • Rising Star Award (up to age 29): Recognizing a young leader, innovator or changemaker in the Black community whose potential is sky high.
  • Trailblazer Award (age 30+): Recognizing a Black leader in business, community or the arts who is setting a bright path forward.
  • Luminary Award (15+ years of impact) Recognizing a legend in the Black community who has spent 15+ years making an important impact in their field.

“We were so impressed by the nominations we received. After a selection committee reviewed the nominations, we decided to present Black Brilliance Awards to four deserving recipients in the three categories,” added Lenya.

And the winners of the Black Brilliance Awards 2024 are …

Garrison Duke, COO, DIVERSEcity, Dacious Richardson and Lenya Wilks, Director, Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement, DIVERSEcity.

Rising Star Award
Dacious Richardson

Dacious currently works as a safe school liaison for the Surrey Schools District where he provides mentorships and safety for high school students and mentors the Black Student Union at Frank Hurt Secondary. He served as a member and mentor for the Surrey Newcomer Youth Council and is a former participant and mentor for Yo Bro Youth Initiative on prevention of gang violence. Dacious founded the Rise Above Reality Expectation in 2016, which promotes diversity, multiculturalism, policy and provides free sports participation for newcomers, refugees and immigrants at-risk and low-income youth-open to all youth!

“I came from Liberia and lived through civil war. It was difficult going to school, finding food to eat, but I was given the opportunity to come to this country, go to school, seek education. Now I’m giving back to my community,” Dacious said upon accepting the award.

“I reach out to the young ones who I see going in different directions because I once was a kid who never had many opportunities. Still, I use that negative to turn that into  a positive. I want to challenge all the young people … that you guys are the rising stars. Whatever ideas you have , dreams visions, it is possible to come to pass.”

Garrison Duke, COO, DIVERSEcity, Nataizya Mukwavi and Lenya Wilks, Director, Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement, DIVERSEcity.

Trailblazer Award (1)
Nataizya Mukwavi

Nataizya is the Founder and Director of Black Women Connect Vancouver, a non-profit and collective of Black women in the Lower Mainland who come together to inspire, empower, leverage their strengths and embrace their diverse experiences. For the past six-plus years, Nataizya has worked hard to make connections that not only help to network Black women who may feel alone or lonely in a geographical area that has a small Black population but be the jumping point for many other’s opportunities in their career and personal lives. Nataizya has been at many tables in rooms where decisions about representation and resource allocation, representing the interest of Black women and the broader Black community in general.

Upon accepting her award, Nataizya told the audience: “I want to dedicate this award to all the Black women, you matter, you belong and let’s do this!”

Garrison Duke, COO, DIVERSEcity, Adebola Ige and Lenya Wilks, Director, Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement, DIVERSEcity.

Trailblazer Award (2)
Adebola Ige

Adebola is the President of the Yoruba Social and Cultural Association of British Columbia, a non-profit community organization focused on Vocational Skills empowerment and Entrepreneurship Economic development for British Columbia.  In addition, Adebola is the Director and President of 3HFoundation, a non-profit organization focused on youth empowerment and incubator program on Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship, Communication and leadership. Through these programs and volunteering, Adebola has continued to consistently pioneer innovative programs that enriches and promotes the lives of immigrants in BC and the general Canadian Public for the past seven years.

“What we do for the community is not for us, but for you. Because in my village, we say it takes a community to raise a community.  So, without you, we would not be here,” said Adebola on the stage. “I look forward to 2024. This year, let’s make giant strides. Let’s do something different. Let’s support the community and make a difference. The future is bright and the future is you.”

Garrison Duke, COO, DIVERSEcity, Amos Kambere and Lenya Wilks, Director, Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement, DIVERSEcity.

Luminary Award
Amos Kambere

Amos Kambere is the founder of Umoja Operation Compassion Society. A refugee from Uganda who recognized the many challenges newcomers like he and his family faced after arriving in Canada, he founded Umoja in 2002 with his wife to help others, particularly Black immigrants to help them navigate their new life and Canadian systems. Over the 20+ plus years since, the impact he and Umoja have had on the community of Surrey is undeniable.

“It’s the resilience of my wife and I that brought us to excellence. Although this award says the name ‘Amos Kambere,’ it’s the resilience of the work of the people at Umoja that continue to see immigrants,” said Amos upon accepting the award, further sharing the importance of community and having people with lived experience supporting other newcomers.

“Coming to Canada with four children was hard,” he added. [At a community table] “I voiced the message every single day, ‘Who is taking care of the families coming from Africa.’” He did that for five years before receiving funding and support to launch and grow Umoja. “Now, 20 years later, I received this award. We have been doing work with excellence, accountability and resilience to ensure people coming from all over the world are supported.”