This month we are proud to celebrate the many achievements and accomplishments of Canadians of African descent, including our founder Eva Smith and her many friends, colleagues and contemporaries, whose advocacy and resistance contributed so much to the City of Toronto, our country and laid the ground-work for our organization.
We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. We are grateful and honoured to celebrate their legacy.
At Eva‘s Initiatives we stand on the shoulders of our founder Eva Smith and her contemporaries, like Kamala-Jean Gopie, a Jamaican-born Canadian Community Advocate.
Kamala worked beside our founder Eva Smith to address the systemic barriers that contributed to the disparities in outcomes for Black youth in Toronto’s education system. Together with Eva and many other advocates Kamala has helped to even the playing field for Black students by pushing the education system to make the changes necessary for more equitable outcomes.
A teacher by trade, Past President of the Jamaican Canadian Association, Former Chair of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, and Founding Director of the Black Business and Professional Association. Kamala also served on the Ontario Race Relations and Policing Task Force in 1989. The task force drew attention to reports of systematic racial discrimination in Ontario’s police services, and encouraged the Ontario government to establish mandatory hiring quotas for racialized communities.
Hon. Dr. Jean Augustine
At Eva‘s Initiatives we stand on the shoulders of our founder Eva Smith and her contemporaries, like the Honourable Jean Augustine, a Grenadian-Canadian educator, advocate for social justice, and politician. Jean was the first Black Canadian women elected to the House of Commons and the driving force behind establishing Black History Month. It was Jean who managed to garner unanimous support to pass a historic motion designating February as Black History Month in Canada.
When Jean arrived in Toronto, the sociocultural climate was very different. There were no structures to protect Black youth from the systemic racism that contributed to the disparities that they faced. Together with Eva Smith and many other advocates, Jean has spent her career working to make change and facilitate progress.
Dr. Vincent Conville
At Eva‘s Initiatives, we stand on the shoulders of our founder Eva Smith and her contemporaries, like Dr. Vincent Conville.
Former Toronto District School Board Teacher, Community Advocate and Leader, Dr. Conville worked with Eva Smith and other advocates, to create changes within the education system.
Dr. Conville, a long-time member of the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) and its President from 1977 to 1978, wrote his PH.D. thesis on the JCA. In 2008, he donated the material that comprises the Jamaican Canadian Association fonds to Library and Archives Canada. This material contains transcripts of oral interviews he conducted with founding and prominent members of the group as well as copies of the JCA newsletter, In Focus.
At Eva‘s Initiatives we stand on the shoulders of our founder Eva Smith and her contemporaries, like Pamela Powell.
Pam believes that “giving back” to the community is her civic responsibility. She also believes in the principles of “giving and sharing ” and serving to make a difference. She has seen through her work and the work of those around her, that the youth of today are in a better place.
Throughout her life, Pam has also been a strong advocate and supporter of women’s rights. She has been a member of the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) since its inception. She served on the JCA Board of Directors as chair of the Women’s Committee and worked on several other standing committees. As chairperson of the women’s Committee, she pioneered the first Black Women’s Health Fair where women were empowered to be active participants in policies affecting their health. Under Pam’s leadership, the Women’s Committee spearheaded the Black Women’s Coalition and participated in the World March of Women 2000 rally in Ottawa on poverty and violence against women. For her volunteer efforts, Pam is the recipient of the JCA 40 and 50 year Award and Lifetime Membership Award. She has also received awards from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, and the Outstanding Achievement Award for Volunteerism in Ontario.