The second annual Black Excellence Day event will take place on January 13, 2023. The event will again be held virtually to provide a meaningful, inclusive and accessible experience for students across Canada.
Who will be involved?
  • Beth Applewhite – District Principal of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for Burnaby School District
  • Ken Headley – District Vice Principal – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Antiracism, New Westminster School District
  • Bill Brassington – Chair of the Burnaby Board of Education
  • Dieulane Miller – 16 year old student who created the design for this year’s t-shirt design
  • Studio Pluto – web design studio owned and operated by Black youth
  • CanCorp Branding Inc. – Black owned and operated apparel company
  • 17+ School Districts and 35,000+ student participants
  • A growing list of our incredible speakers is below!
  • We acknowledge the support of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation with funding provided by the Government of Canada.

Support Black Excellence Day!

Interested in making a donation or sponsoring our event?
Email us at blackexcellenceday@gmail.com for more information.

The Honourable Rachna Singh

Minister of Education and Child Care

Rachna Singh was elected as the MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers in May 2017 and re-elected in October 2020. She is the Minister of Education and Child Care.

Rachna moved from India to Canada in 2001 and chose Surrey to build a better life for her young family.

She has worked as a drug and alcohol counsellor, a support worker for women facing domestic violence, and a community activist.

Rachna has two children and is married to radio journalist Gurpreet Singh.

Ahmed Hussen

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen

Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen was first elected in 2015 to represent the riding of York South—Weston. He has previously served as Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

Minister Hussen immigrated to Canada in 1993 and settled in Toronto. He began his career in public service after high school, working with the Hamilton-Wentworth social services department.

Minister Hussen co-founded the Regent Park Community Council in 2002. As its president, he played a key role in securing the $500‑million revitalization project for Regent Park, while advocating for its 15,000 residents to ensure that their interests were protected. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for his leadership efforts in the Regent Park community.

Alice Murage

Alice Mũrage

Director, African Ancestry Project

Alice Mũrage is the director of the African Ancestry Project, a project implemented in partnership with the BC Black History Awareness Society to bring awareness to the diversity of histories, identities, and experiences of Black people in British Columbia. She is a social and policy research professional working as a research fellow with Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, where she recently began her PhD studies. Alice identifies herself as a Kikuyu, a Kenyan, an African, and a recent immigrant to Canada who seeks to find her place in the current reckoning on the need for genuine reconciliation and social justice efforts. She resides on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations.

You can view the African Ancestry Project here: https://bcblackhistory.ca/african-ancestry-survey/

Debra Olaniyi

Associate-Manager, Programs and Services, Federation of Black Canadians

Debra is an Alumni from the University of Toronto, where she double majored in Political and Sociology with a minor in Women and Gender studies. She is also a current JD pathway law student at the University of Leicester. Debra works as an Associate-Manager, programs and services at the Federation of Black Canadians. Additionally she does consulting for the engineering department at the University of Leicester.

Debra has previously sat on the Nobellum Student and Alumni Committee as the Co-Chair. As a community advocate with passion in diversity and equity, Debra aims to be the change she wants to see in society and uses her spare time towards creating pathways for others to do the same.

Tychon Carter-Newman

Tychon Carter-Newman

Motivational Speaker, Social Media Influencer

Tychon’s debut as a public figure stemmed from being crowned as the winner of Big Brother Canada Season 9. As the first black winner of the series, he uses his platform to make a positive difference in the world.
Tychon’s life’s work has been dedicated to Community Building, mostly as an Urban Planner, Basketball Coach, and Youth Program Director. Through being an Ambassador for Diversity and Inclusion, Mental Health, Education, and Active Living, he believes he can help be part of the change he’d like to see in today’s world.
Motivational speaking is the vehicle he uses to inspire, empower and advocate for change. Through storytelling, humour and engagement he is able to connect with his audience in the aspiration of helping people reach their potential.
Bryan Burnham

Bryan Burnham

Retired BC Lions Wide Receiver

The 3x CFL All-Star has played his entire eight-year career for the Lions moving to 4th all-time in Lions history with 7,212 receiving yards. In addition to being a captain and leader on the team, Bryan helped create and is a proud participant of the BC Lions Team-Up to End Racism program. Bryan and his wife Aubrey are also proud foster parents to three wonderful kids.

Sheba Birhanu

Associate Director of Partnerships, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)

Sheba Birhanu is the associate director of partnerships at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). A Canadian-Ethiopian Jewish activist, she focuses on combating antisemitism and hate by working with other ethno religious and civil society groups on issues of shared concern.

After serving as vice-president of Western University’s Black Students’ Association, she joined the Honey Jam, a women’s non-profit music program that helped to provide young women with professional development tools and resources to pursue a career in music. Today, she helps lead the Canadian Coalition to Combat Online Hate, and sits on the executive committee of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation and the Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Toronto.

Khari Wendell McClelland

Musician & Music Historian

Imaginative. Bold. Genuine. Hopeful. Khari Wendell McClelland is an award-winning musician and creative facilitator who uses the arts and experiential activities for transformational learning. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Khari has worked with communities across Africa, Australia, Europe, North America and the Caribbean.

In a world with increasingly complex societal challenges, the need for values-based creative solutions is paramount. Khari helps youth and adults explore core values and creativity as a means to self-actualization, community building and problem solving. His approach is warm, insightful and engaging. For Khari’s music, visit khariwendellmcclelland.com

Javain Brown

Vancouver Whitecaps Defender

A Jamaican international with exceptional pace and good distribution from the right back position, Javain Brown was selected by Whitecaps FC with the 23rd overall pick at the 2021 MLS SuperDraft. He agreed to an MLS contract with club options through 2024 in February 2021.

Elage Bah

Vancouver Whitecaps Midfielder

A midfielder/forward from Ottawa, Ontario who joined the Whitecaps FC Academy in August 2020 after previously playing with Ottawa St. Anthony Futuro Soccer Academy.

Tosaint Ricketts

Vancouver Whitecaps Manager of Community Impact

On 8 August 2019, Ricketts returned to MLS and Canada, joining Vancouver Whitecaps FC. He was re-signed to a new deal through 2022, with an option for 2023 in March 2022. At the end of the 2022 season, Vancouver announced they would not exercise the option on Ricketts’ contract for 2023, ending his playing time with the club. Ricketts would continue in the front office as Manager of Community Impact.

Annecia Thomas

Student & Activist

Annecia Thomas. A daughter, a sister, a friend and activist is an 18-year old Canadian Jamaican young woman born in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica living in Kamloops, BC. Annecia lives with her mom, dad and sister. Growing up Annecia struggled to use her voice and speak up in situations of injustice. A fire sparked and ignited inside of her as she began her path of self-discovery. As she grew to love the skin that she was in her other realization was to not allow continued patterns and behaviors of racism keep being repeated. Advocating for change and shifting spaces to have more inclusion is where she found her ambition.

Amaal Nuux


Amaal’s music transcends language and religion and culture, tapping into the kind fundamental humanity and search for self that binds us all. She writes with a vivid sensuality, reveling in the power of both physical and emotional touch, and her performances are visceral to match, delivered with a mesmerizing intimacy that hints at everything from FKA twigs and Kelela to SZA and Jhené Aiko. More than anything, her songs are quietly revelatory works of self-actualization, bold, intoxicating declarations of female empowerment that, by their very existence, stand as radical acts of feminine liberation.

Joey “Kinghandles” Haywood

Joey “King Handles” Haywood

Former Pro Baller, Elite Basketball Trainer

Joel Haywood, aka King Handles, is a former professional basketball player and considered a streetball legend in the eyes of many.

Years of experience in both streetball and professional basketball have evolved his ball handling ability and taken his game to the next level. During his journey, King Handles continually noticed a lack of ball handling ability within the local youth basketball scene. He felt the need to improve upon this through sharing his knowledge on an elite training level. In doing so, it simultaneously allows Joel an opportunity to give back to his local community.

Jeremiah Brooks

Jeremiah Brooks


I am Jeremiah Brooks; I am 16 years old and attending grade 11 in the Surrey School District. Currently I am very interested in aviation, architecture, and design. Right now, I am designing a house online. I have been playing the baritone saxophone since I was 12 years old (grade 7) I am taking band as an elective and I am part of the Senior Jazz band. I was born in Vancouver, B.C, Canada, but lived most of my childhood up until grade 10 when I moved back to Vancouver where I currently reside.

Albert St. Albert Smith


Albert St. Albert Smith is an African American musician whose specialty is instruments from different African nations and their Diaspora. He has studied and played many musical styles; jazz, rock and roll, folk, classical, Latin, and the fusion of these styles, as well as traditional and modern African music. A professional performer for over 40 years. As a faculty instructor at Simon Fraser University taught in the area of music for dance at the School for the Contemporary Arts and director of the SFU Ghana Field School in the Arts. Over the years he has performed with Nina Simon, Freddie Hubbard, Ernestine Anderson, and toured with World Drums Master Musicians of the World. He has performed with and recorded with Almeta Speaks, African Heritage and Uzume Taiko and Ache Brasil.

Areas: Pan-African drums, jazz, popular music; contemporary dance accompaniment and performance; Pan-African culture.

Djaka Blais

Executive Director, Hogan’s Alley Society

Djaka Blais (she/her) is a seasoned bilingual social sector leader with 18 years of experience in philanthropy, government, and community mobilizing.

Djaka is the inaugural Executive Director of Hogan’s Alley Society, a Vancouver-based non-profit focused on advancing the social, political, economic, and cultural well-being of people of African descent (Black People) through the delivery of inclusive housing, built spaces, and culturally informed programming. She is a founding member of the Foundation for Black Communities, the first philanthropic foundation for Black communities in Canada and a fellow with SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

Djaka is now a guest on the unceded and occupied ancestral lands of the sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), Stó:lō, and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations.

Dakota Joshua

Vancouver Canucks Prospect

Dakota Joshua is an American professional ice hockey forward who is currently playing as a prospect to the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected 128th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Dieulane Miller

Student & BED ’23 logo designer

Hi, I am Dieulane Miller, I am 16 years old and I was adopted when I was six from Haiti. I have always loved art, dancing, singing, and drawing. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to design so for such a great cause that helps me be proud to be a black young woman in today’s world.