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Meet The Speakers : Defining Black Futures and Excellence: A #RisingYouth Perspective

In honour of Black History Month, #RisingYouth is organizing the event ‘’Defining Black Futures and Excellence: A #RisingYouth Perspective’’, in which we will bring together Black-led organizations and Black Alumni on a panel to discuss the Black experience in Canada and the impact accessing #RisingYouth grants has had on communities.

This online event will take place on Thursday February 17th, and is organized in close collaboration with long time #RisingYouth Partner, Changing The Narrative, a Nova Scotian Podcast and organization supporting Black youth and fostering excellence.

The event is organized in three segments. We will start off with the premiere of ‘’The #RisingYouth Journey’’, a short film created by Terrence from Changing The Narrative, followed by a Partner Panel and an Alumni Panel.

Date & Time: Thursday, February 17, 2022

11:30 PM Pacific time
12:30 PM Mountain Time
1:30 Central Time
2:30 PM Eastern Time
3:30 PM Atlantic Time
4:00 PM Newfoundland Time

This is an online event taking place on Zoom.
Register here

Meet the event speakers, moderators and organizers!

#RisingYouth Alumni Simone Blais (Victoria)

Simone Blais is a dancer, doula, and director. She holds a degree in Gender Studies and Indigenous Studies from the University of Victoria. Her work focuses on decolonizing the dance community and reproductive justice for marginalized communities. In the past 5 years, she has worked with the Nesting Doula Collective, and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, delivering workshops about reproductive justice. She is also the director and producer of the documentary Dance Like Everybody’s Watching, which highlights the experiences of Black dancers in Victoria.

Learn more: simone-blais.com

#RisingYouth Alumni Joane Assad (Gatineau)

JoaneAssad holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences specializing in Criminology from the University of Ottawa and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from ÉNAP in the Outaouais region. Since 2016, she has worked for the federal government of Canada. And, since November 2021, she is the project officer at the CÉSOC for the new entrepreneurship program for the Black community in Eastern Ontario. This project is funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Joane is also the founder of JSA Consultation, a strategic consulting firm. Aside from her professional career, Joane has a strong desire to be involved in her community and to mentor and encourage local youth to do community work.

#RisingYouth Alumni Eniola Soetan (Winnipeg)

Eniola Soetan is a 17 year old Nigerian immigrant and Canadian Citizen living in Winnipeg Manitoba. She became a Rising Youth Global Her passions include reading, cooking, basketball, and writing- primarily poetry and research. She is a very active member of her community through volunteering and community service and initiatives, and hopes to continue to be an active community member on all levels and bring about positive change in her community for the rest of her life.

#RisingYouth Alumni & Partner Zachary Cziranka-Crooks (Cambridge Bay)

My name is Zachary Cziranka-Crooks, I was born in Oshawa Ontario in 1992. I lived on a beef farm in Southern Ontario and attended the local high school. Throughout my childhood I was heavily involved in sport and had the opportunity to travel throughout Ontario. As a mixed-race individual who identifies as black growing up in a predominately white community, the racism I often observed was subtle. I have a unique understanding of the black experience in Canada having both black and white relatives. I graduated with a bachelor of commerce, majoring in Human Resources from Ottawa University. I moved up to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut 6 years ago where I now reside with my partner and two children who are part Inuit. While living in Cambridge Bay I have noticed the disparity between the Inuit and other communities. I have a passion for sports both as competitor and coach and am now president of Nunavut Basketball (NUBA) and treasurer of Wrestling Nunavut. Presently I’m the Child Advocate Worker for Kitikmeot Friendship Society (KFS). KFS is embarking on a quest to provide mental health support in a culturally appropriate way and providing Nunavut based solutions to the mental health crisis in Nunavut.

#RisingYouth Partner Eldon Holder (Ottawa)

Eldon is the Vice President of Philanthropy and Social Innovation at the Dream Legacy Foundation. Through grassroots capacity building, he helps Black and racialized communities and individuals create income, build assets, and attain greater self-reliance. He leads initiatives that tackle key socio-economic challenges by providing: business loans, employment support, affordable housing development, financial literacy training, community leadership training, youth entrepreneurship, and soon a matched Homeownership Bridge program for first time home buyers. Eldon holds a degree in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Ottawa, and is an accredited Staffing Consultant. When he is not tackling the underemployment conundrum, he can be found mentoring youth, filming documentaries, or experimenting with making small batch Hibiscus Sorrel Kombucha.

IG: @DreamLegacyFdn
Twitter: @DreamLegacyFdn

#RisingYouth Partner Terrence Taylor (Halifax)

Terrence Taylor is the founder of Terrence Taylor Media, a Halifax based audio/video production company that combines filmmaking, podcasting, storytelling and mentorship to create the next generation of successful artists and Black business owners. Terrence is also the founder of Changing the Narrative, the podcast turned ethical Black media company, which is currently developing the first Black school for art and business in Nova Scotia. Lastly and most importantly, Terrence is a Father, to both a small human and Great Dane named Queen.

Find out more about Changing The Narrative here.

#RisingYouth Alumni and Moderator for the Event Harmony Adesola (Halifax)

Harmony Adesola has been working in film for longer than one would expect, given that he is only 21 years old. He has created numerous music videos and short docs with his work showcased on numerous social media venues, including his own YouTube Channel. He is a filmmaker, actor, and musician, with aspirations to build his craft in order to be a successful artist working in the Nova Scotia Film & Music Industry.

He began his journey in media with his YouTube channel, which he started uploading to while he still lived in South Africa. After moving around for many of his middle school days, he began making music with friends and created the hit song “So Hype” with producer A-Thurst. Once the song blew up around his community, he decided to keep trying to make good songs, since people seemed to enjoy what he was making.

Harmony is now a Maritime superstar, with accolades such as winning the TD Music Moves Me contest, being picked as one of five filmmakers to create a documentary on Being Black in Halifax with the Halifax Black Film Festival, having that documentary take him to Quebec for the Montreal Black Film Festival, and earning himself prominent placements in pop-up shows all around Halifax.

#RisingYouth Team Member & Event Organizer Christina Muia (Toronto)

Christina has worked with the United Nations, Ontario Government and several non-profits. She served on the board of directors for the Canadian Samaritans for Africa and is currently a Secretary for the Ontario Council for International Cooperation. Her experiences sparked interest in how youth from marginalized communities are contributing to poverty reduction and community development, which was explored in her Masters thesis and led to co-founding BiaSHEara, a multi-faceted project that showcased stories of Canadian women entrepreneurs of East African descent and engaged youth to support documentary production. Christina is passionate about supporting youth to take up leadership and make positive changes they would like to see in their own communities. Previously, Christina worked on TakingITGlobal’s Rwanda Huguka Dukore project, and is excited to be part of TakingITGlobal’s #RisingYouth Program as a Partnership Lead and Data Administrator to collaborate with organizations and contribute to work that has a tangible impact on young people.

Christina is excited to bring together Black-led organizations we work with at #RisingYouth and #RisingYouth alumni to speak to their experience as Black Canadians and to discuss how #RisingYouth has impacted them and communities. Through this event, Christina is hoping to showcase and celebrate Black Canadian voices, re-define the idea of Black Excellence for individuals and communities, and discuss how we can work together as a collective to realize a future for Black Canadians that we want to see.




Inspirational stories of youth engagement in Canada

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