Tuesday, July 7, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM (via Zoom)
(Pre-Symposium Concert, 6:40 PM – 7:00 PM)
Anti-Black racism persists across social, economic, political, legal, and institutional structures in our society. The purpose of this dialogue is to explore concrete ways that people — individually and collectively — can acknowledge and dismantle their roles in the perpetuation of racist attitudes and actions. We will explore how silence, privilege, microaggressions, and unconscious bias continue to enable anti-Black racism in our institutions and communities. The UN International Decade for People of African Descent (observed 2015-2024) will also be acknowledged.
Originally from Mississauga, Matthew Atkins is a musician, choral director, and music educator currently residing in London, Ontario. He is a recent graduate of the Master of Music degree program at Western University’s Don Wright Faculty of Music where he focused on gospel music pedagogy for secondary schools. Matthew is also a secondary school teacher with eight years of experience with the Thames Valley District School Board and London Christian High where he led the music department for six years. He is an active member of London’s theatre community as a pianist and music director and has served as a worship leader in various churches throughout the city.
Colette Chapman is a Clinical Social Worker in London, Ontario, where she has her own counseling practice. She has been working in the field of Child Welfare for the past 20 years, and now holds the position as a Supervisor within a child welfare organization. She is the past president of the Congress ofBlack Women, and the current President of the African Caribbean Soccer Club in London, Ontario.
Ms. Chapman is a member the Black London Network and a fierce advocate for the rights of Black children in the child welfare system. She operates from an Anti Black Racism perspective and engages in deliberate conversations about implicit biases and its impact on individuals mental health.
I am a South Sudanese Canadian currently living in Calgary, AB. I was born in Ethiopia in 1993 and moved to Canada as a refugee in 2002. I am now an undergraduate student at the University of Calgary. Besides my studies, I also focus on social entrepreneurship focusing on the ”Paarman Centre project.” The project focuses on healing the maternal line in African/Black families. I am also the author of the book, ”The Fire Within poetry in Thok Nath and English.” A poetry book that focuses on humanizing the pain of South Sudanese refugees and the aftermath of trauma. The aim of the book is to decolonize and humanize the African/Black experience on the planet.
As African/Black people, we have suffered as a result of being born with our pigment. Decisions about who we are and who we will be have been made before our conception. Through my works and writings, I hope to dismantle such myths and stereotypes: we as people are multifaceted and that need to be understood. I strive in my life work to represent the alternative realities of the African/Black perspective. Because anti-blackness exist to dehumanize and to stagnate our communities, its sole purpose is to shield our hearts and minds to our innate glory and excellence. The only way to combat anti-blackness is for us to be proud and exist in our skin in ways suitable for us without permission from those who are invested in our stagnant conditions.
The revolution is within, and it is radical self-love and acceptance. The world has been feeding on our emotional traumas and reactions. It is time that our response and care are earned and reciprocated.
Leroy Hibbert is employed at LUSO Community Services as the Multicultural Outreach Coordinator and his responsibilities include facilitating workshops, presentations and training on race relations, cultural diversity and awareness to youth, parents, professionals and community groups in the non-profit and profit sectors.
In addition to these activities, Leroy is a member of the Thames Valley District School Safe Schools Committee, Culture for Learning Advisory Committee, the London District and Catholic School Board Belonging Committee, London Black History Coordinating Committee, and Coaching Boys into Men Committee.
Seeking a more stable environment and ample opportunity, Arielle’s family left her home country, Burundi, in the midst of a civil war. After arriving in Canada, Arielle faced many of the challenges inherent in most new Canadian stories; insecure housing, precarious employment, and unfamiliar systems to navigate. She’s become a champion for other newcomers and all London residents, striving to realize equitable and stable futures for their families.
After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Carleton University, Arielle gained initial experience in government supporting Members of Parliament through her work in caucus services on Parliament Hill. Arielle was one of 29 young Canadians selected to represent the nation’s youth at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16). She entered local government as part of the mentorship program at London’s City Hall and then ran a successful campaign to become a City Councilor.
Arielle is an active public speaker, having worked with London Black History Committee and Regional HIV Aids Connection. She has served on and is a member of various local boards, including the Black History Month committee, the Urban League of London, Réseau-femmes du sud-ouest de l’Ontario, Association culturelle burundo-canadienne de London, and the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition.
Balancing her roles as a single mother, City Councilor, community activist and passionate city builder, Arielle’s story is one of breaking barriers, overcoming adversity, and defying expectations. She is a shining example of a new type of political and community leader; progressive, unapologetic, and committed to representing marginalized voices in her community.
Malvin Wright is a community development practitioner with over 20 years of experience leading global health and community development projects, programs and campaigns in over 4 countries globally, Nunavut and Ontario. Malvin has led HIV/AIDS prevention education, Milennium Develop Goals (MDG), Micro-credit, Malnutrition and Public Health programs through an empowerment and community led approach. He is passionate about finding creative solutions that are grounded in equity, justice and solidarity.
Malvin currently sits on the Board of Directors with Pillar Not for Profit in London, ON and is a founding member of the Black London Network while participating and lending his experience to various community development and social justices projects and programs in London.
Malvin is Driven by a desire to do meaningful work that benefits communities. As an aspiring leader, and entrepreneur, Malvin believes that it is important to be willing to learn and challenge the language around race, identity, place and space by creating new tools, new language and new processes.
Malvin is a loving and doting father of 4, an entrepreneur and loves to spend time with his wife, baking, running and spending times with his children.
Dr. Melanie-Anne Atkins
Dr. Melanie-Anne Atkins is the Acting Associate Director, Graduate Programs at Western University’s Centre for Teaching and Learning and an Adjunct Research Professor at the Centre for Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Her research interests include: engaging students with traditionally marginalized identities in the academy, mental health literacy, holistic graduate student development, peer mentorship and education, and anti-oppressive practices in education. In 2016, she led the creation and development of Western’s Wellness Education Centre into a student-led wellness education innovation hub. Melanie-Anne earned her BScH (Life Sciences) from Queen’s University, and her BEd, MEd, and PhD in Education from Western University.
Dobijoki Emanuela Bringi is a Doctor of Education Candidate at Western University. With an MA in Education and a BA in Multicultural and Indigenous Studies, Dobijoki centres her work on the educational improvement and success of Black and marginalized students and communities. Her research is currently centred on: Indigenous African knowledges, decolonization, anti-oppression, and organizational improvement. Dobijoki Emanuela is the founder of Dobijoki Personal Development, a service which uses an African-centred lens in supporting people in owning their Power Stories. Dobijoki also uses her platform to amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, and marginalized communities through her radio show and podcast, You are Power Radio.