Calendar showcases achievers

Egbert Gaye

The 2017 Black History Month calendar features an impressive line-up of achievers, including entrepreneurs, educators, community workers, public servants and those who have excelled in the private sector, all of whom were celebrated at a launch in front of a wide cross-section of Quebecers at City hall on Friday, February 2.
The event was coordinated by the Round Table On Black History Month, and mayor Denis Cordere, as well as Philipe Pichet Chief of the SPVM were among those who addressed the gathering.
In his welcoming address Michael Farkas, president of the organizing committee said: “Several remarkable events have defined Black people’s role in the last 375 years in this place and dedicated the 2017 Calendar to all those who love Montreal, and to those who have left their mark on the last 375 years. He identified several icons of our community, such as Mathieu Da Costa, Marie-Josèphe Angélique, Dany Laferrière, the Honorable Judge Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, Reverend Charles H. Este, Jean Alfred, Dr. Charles Drew, the Honorable Judge Daniel Dortélus, Régine Laurent, Édouard Anglade, Yolande James, and the Honorable Michaëlle Jean.
And also recognized Union United Church, which is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year.
The theme of this year’s celebration is: Here We Stand…. Here We Stay.
Esteemed Montrealer Bob White, who left his imprint on this city as a youth worker, mentor and political commentator was the featured personality in the “Homage To Those We Lost” page of the calendar.
Born here, Bob was exposed to community building early in life in the back room of his father Ben White’s store, where many newcomers and those on the margins of society sought solace and received help.
An accomplished swimmer at a very young age, Bob worked as aquatic director at the Harlem YMCA, where on the streets of New York he became steeped in the politics of civil rights and human rights in the 1960s.
Back in Montreal, he became an entrepreneur and founded the West End Sport Association, a vehicle he used to heap positive influence on the lives of young Montrealers, especially in the Southwest district of the city.
Over the decades, Bob helped dozens of student-athletes attend Canadian and US colleges and established himself and his organization as a force for good in this city, which he loved uncompromisingly.
Later in life, many came to know and respect him through the pages of this newspaper, where his forth-nightly columns earned him a massive following because of his insightful take on community building and politics.
The 2017 calendar also documented the achievements and contributions of Erene Anthony, a lifelong educator who helped to mold generations of students, first as a mathematics and English teacher, then as a vice-principal at various schools around the city. She served as principal of the Mackay Centre and John Grant High School.
In retirement, she is still involved in the cause of education through her work with the Quebec Provincial Association of Retired School Educators and is impacting on lives through her work with Union United Church, where she served as chair of the board for many years and continues to coordinate projects such as the youth band and serves on various committees.
Most of Ms. Anthony’s contributions and achievements were made as a single mother while raising her son Joel, who excelled at the highest level in basketball at the college level and in the NBA.
These days she is actively involved with Chelaine du Millanaire, a local charitable organization that provides funding for food for students, and salaries for six teachers in a small school in an outlying district in Haiti. She is currently learning Creole as she prepares for a visit to the four-room school that is just being converted into a concrete structure with the help of local volunteers.
Among other Canadian icons taking their places in this year’s Calendar was Viola Desmond, the legendary civil rights agitator who stood up to racism in 1946 when she was prevented from sitting in the balcony section at a cinema in Nova Scotia. Her face will appear on the new Canadian $10 bill.
Two community institutions are also represented: The Union United Church, which this year marked its 110th anniversary was celebrated as one of the pillars of the community.
And West Can Folk Performing, whose interpretation of Caribbean and African dance, drumming and songs earned them the designation as cultural ambassadors were recognized for carrying the flag of our community.
Also recognized were the Cameroonian community, which this year is celebration 50 years of establishing a presence in Montreal.
Among this year laureates are:
•    Alix Laurent, director of the École supérieure de ballet du Québec, one of Canada’s three most prestigious institutions specializing in the professional training of classical ballet dancers, a position he has held since 2006. Laurent was the founder of two staple publications in our community, Images Intercultural and Voice Magazine, which later transformed to Vice magazine described as “the engine behind one of the world’s largest media companies.
•     Lyndsay Daudier, an urban planner and management specialist who worked in the provincial ministry of Culture and Communications. She now serves as assistant director for development and partnerships at Amplifier Montréal, an umbrella organization monitoring Montreal’s social and political transformation.
•    Yves-Michel Volcy, a former high school teacher now serving as superintendent of the Commission scolaire de Laval, one of Quebec’s largest school boards with more than 52,000 students and a workforce of over 700 employees.
•    Tiffany Callender is a long-standing community worker whose involvement with various organizations goes back over the past decade or so. She is currently executive director of the Cote des Neiges Black Community Association as well as manager and community liaison officer at the Ujamaa Initiative for Black Entrepreneurship.
•    Steves Boussiki is a coordinator at the Conseil interculturel de Montréal and the former vice-president at REPAF. He served for two years and sat on the board of directors for the Fonds 1804 pour la persévérance scolaire.
•    Abisara Machold excels as an entrepreneur and health and beauty specialist. She the founder of the Inhairitance Curl Spa, a boutique and salon that specializes in all types of natural care for curly and locked hair, as well as co-founder of Inhairitance Academy, a training institute for curl experts and natural-hair stylists.
•    Doudou Sow is a consultant-trainer in employment integration and diversity management and author. He has been tapped to serve on, and will sit on the upcoming Immigrant Advisory Committee, which will formulate proposals and opinions for labor and employment-related bodies.
•    Roger A. Muhammad is a spiritual leader currently serving as the student minister of the Muhammad Study Group of Montreal. An ardent community worker and advocate, he makes Black consciousness central to his work and remains a strong promoter of interfaith dialogue and collaboration between Christians, Muslims, as well as traditional Haitian and African religious systems. He is the author of two French-language e-books, Où sont les noirs dans les saintes écritures (“Where Are Blacks in the Holy Scriptures”) and Qui est l’homme originel? (“Who Is the Original Man?”), one of the driving forces behind Montreal Hip Hop Summit. He is also a contributor to Montreal Community Contact.
•    Pascal Kewa Mutombo is an appellate court judge and lecturer at the Université de Sherbrooke. He served for 19 years as an investigator and mediator at the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.
•    Youmani Jérôme Lankoandé is the chief executive officer of YULCOM Technologies, a Montreal-based technology firm and also serves as the president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and Industry Saint-Laurent–Mount Royal. Mr. Lankoandé, who holds a master’s degree in political economy from Université Laval, also worked as an economic analyst at Partenariat International.
•    Ketlyn Maitland-Blades, a career banker who rose meteorically through the ranks of her company to become the first Black securities bank manager in Montreal and eventually vault manager. She also established herself as a dedicated community worker, serving on the board of directors of several associations, while continuing to build Children of The World, an organization she founded 10 years ago. She remains a strong advocate of education and family development.
•    Vickie Joseph is an entrepreneur, designer and beauty specialist par excellence who graduated from the International Academy of Design and worked with renowned brands such as Ralph Lauren. She opened her first boutique in 2009 and another in 2012. In partnership with another entrepreneur, she recently produced a line of cosmetics and is a collaborator in the publication of a magazine dedicated to the promotion of Black and mixed cultures around the world.
In addition to the calendar, the Round Table also has an extensive list of activities and events that will be held across Montreal throughout the month of February and beyond in celebration of BHM: You can access that list at http://moishistoiredesnoirs.com/en/