The official Black Excellence Day event took place on January 14, 2022. The event was held virtually to provide a meaningful, inclusive and accessible experience for students across Canada.
Who was involved?
  • Beth Applewhite – District Principal of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for Burnaby School District
  • Ken Headley – District Vice Principal of Racial Inclusivity & Equity at Maple Ridge Secondary School District
  • Adrianne Williams – Canadian Caribbean artist
  • Studio Pluto – web design studio owned and operated by Black youth
  • CanCorp Branding Inc. – Black owned and operated apparel company
  • At least 20 school districts will be in attendance – approximately 10,000+ attendees
  • A full list of our incredible speakers is below!

Support Black Excellence Day!

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

Dr. Kelisha Graves

Chief Research, Education, and Programs Officer for the King Center

Dr. Kelisha B. Graves serves the Chief Research, Education, and Programs Officer at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, GA. She holds a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a concentration in higher education.

Dr. Graves is an impact-driven educational leader who has a passion for research and discovery, and a gift for teaching and administration. As an educational philosophy, Dr. Graves believes in unconventional learning journeys that lead to deeply valuable outcomes. She is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research interests and teaching competencies resides at the nexus of education and the global Africana experience. Her research interests span educational leadership, culturally responsive pedagogy, Africana philosophy, and African American intellectual history.

Tosaint Ricketts

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Forward

An experienced Canadian international with over 250 professional appearances in his decade-long career, Tosaint Ricketts signed with Whitecaps FC in August 2019 to bolster the ‘Caps attacking corps.

He has also been a passionate advocate for social justice and anti-racism, taking part in the MLS Black Players for Change organization, and continues to support greater diversity and inclusion in our club and community.

Leonard Owusu

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Midfielder

A strong, powerful, dynamic central midfielder, Leonard Owusu joined Whitecaps FC in January 2020 from Israeli Premier League side FC Ashdod with the use of Targeted Allocated Money.

A product of Dreams FC in his hometown of Accra, Owusu agreed to an MLS contract through 2022, with an option for 2023.

Janio Bikel

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Midfielder

A versatile, technical central midfielder, who can play right back, Janio Bikel is comfortable in possession and defensively aware. The former Portuguese youth international joined Whitecaps FC in February 2020 via transfer from Bulgaria’s First Professional Football League side CSKA Sofia.

Déiber Caicedo

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Forward

A young exciting winger who can play along either side of the pitch, Déiber Caicedo adds speed and dribbling ability to the Whitecaps FC attack after beginning his career with Deportivo Cali in Colombia’s top-flight Categoría Primera A.

Caicedo joined Whitecaps FC in January 2021 via transfer from Cali, agreeing to a three-year contract through 2023, with a club option for 2024.

Greg Fergus

Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus

As the Liberal candidate for Hull–Aylmer and a proud Member of Parliament since 2015, Greg seeks your support to continue serving and representing you in the House of Commons.

Greg and his family chose Hull–Aylmer over 25 years ago. Greg met the love of his life, Julie, while he was a political science student at the University of Ottawa in 1988. They have lived in Hull–Aylmer since 1995, raised their children there, and are now watching their grandchildren grow up in the community.

His community involvement and a desire to help fight climate change, led Greg to enter politics. The climate crisis is so dire, we must all work together to address it.

Will Loftus

Manager & Trainer at Gameready Fitness/Former CFL Safety

Will is a 2-time CFL Grey Cup Champion, having spent time with the Edmonton Eskimos and Montreal Alouettes. He has a passion for building dreams, and giving kids all the tools they need to accomplish amazing things with their lives. He works with the Ministry of Children and Families, and was a foster parent, in addition to being a coach, both at Game Ready, as well as in community football.

JR LaRose

2011 Grey Cup champion and member of One Arrow First Nation

JR LaRose is a 2011 Grey Cup champion. A proud member of One Arrow First Nation, he is an ambassador for Aboriginal peoples. He is an accomplished speaker speaking and facilitating over 400 presentations throughout Canada and the United States since 2008. A proud family man JR’s path to success has been a long and hard fought journey. Growing up in low incoming housing in Edmonton’s inner city didn’t exactly set JR up for success but it did give him the drive to succeed. JR grew up without a father. His father, of Nigerian heritage, was deported back to his native country before JR was born. JR never met his Dad.

Angela Cooke

Associate Deputy Minister at Province of BC – Ministry of Attorney General

Recently, relocated to British Columbia as the Vice President, Operations for BC Housing. Shortly after her arrival Angela faced the restraints of a world with COVID-19.  Angela was required to execute a provincial pandemic response not only on behalf of the Ministry, Housing & Municipal Affairs, but also to the Ministry of Health; Ministry of Attorney General; Ministry of Children, Families and Development; and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

Calum Worthy

Actor and co-founder of the Green Schools Campaign

Disney’s prime star Calum Worthy, known globally for playing the hilarious role of ‘Dez’ on the Disney show ‘Austin & Ally’, is now recognised as one of television’s best comedians. With his successful entrepreneurial venture ‘The Coppertop Flop Show’ aired on Disney Channel, Calum claims that the idea for the show dawned on him while watching YouTube videos. As a Canadian and a kid of the 90’s, he takes comic inspiration from legendary actors such as Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and Mike Myers. He has been cast in several roles in television films and has appeared on umpteen sitcoms as a lead or star guest. Hoping to become a role model for the younger generation, he began with voice training, dancing and acting from the age of five. He has performed at numerous musicals and theatrical plays, which has helped shape his career. He has won several awards for his performances and is listed in the top 10 actors to watch out for by ‘TV Guide’.

Lillian Boraks-Nemetz

Holocaust survivor

Lillian Boraks-Nemetz was born in Warsaw, Poland, and survived the Holocaust as a child. After being incarcerated in the Warsaw Ghetto for eighteen months, she hid, under a false identity, for the remainder of the war in several Polish villages.

Lillian’s family immigrated to Canada, first arriving in Montreal, Quebec in 1947. In 1949 they moved to Vancouver, then to Victoria, BC, where she attended St. Margaret’s School for girls.

In 1965 she began studies at the University of British Columbia. This led to Bachelors and Masters degrees in Comparative Literature. She has been teaching Creative Writing at the University of BC from 1980 to the present time.

Giorgia Ricciardi

Vancouver Holocaust Education Center research assistant/Master’s Degree, Holocaust and Related Studies

Giorgia Ricciardi is a first year Master’s student in the Holocaust studies stream at the University of Victoria. She received her Bachelor of Arts from UVic in 2018, completing a double major in History and Spanish. During her undergraduate degree, Giorgia completed a Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award Project on the largest Fascist Italian internment camp for Jews: Ferramonti di Tarsia. Giorgia’s current SSHRC-funded research focuses on the history and memory of Spain in the Second World War and the Holocaust.

William Dolan

Youth artist who advocated for Black history curriculum in his school

William is kind and compassionate. He feels deeply about the importance of faith, family, and fairness. He’s a very talented young man who has excelled in academics, athletics, and the arts.
He is a singer songwriter and recently started producing his own music. William won a SOCAN Foundation award for the first song he wrote “Cadillac” where he sings about how much black history means to him. William has won various awards for his music including 2 from “byBlacks”, Canada’s #1 ranked black online magazine.
Also, William began studying dance at 4 years old and has trained in ballet, tap, modern, musical theatre and hip-hop. A born entertainer.

DJ O Show

Artist and former council member of the Squamish Nation

DJ O Show brings 15 years of experience to the industry, dedicating herself to her passion and chiseling out her niche as an Afro-Indigenous female Hip Hop and R&B DJ in Vancouver, BC. O Show delivers energy-filled playlists customized for your unique event. Whether you are hosting an industry party, planning your wedding or birthday, O Show creates memorable sets proving time and time again that diversity makes beautiful music.

Khari McClelland

American musician and music historian

Khari Wendell McClelland is a diversely talented and ever-evolving artist. Originally from Detroit, Khari has become a darling on the Canadian music scene with reviewers lauding his performances as a clever mix of soul and gospel. Khari’s songwriting crosses genres and generations, joyfully invoking the spirit of his ancestors who straddled the US-Canadian border in efforts to escape slavery and discrimination. His music draws from this rich history, integrating the rhythms and folklore of early African-Americans with contemporary sounds and stories of struggle. Recently, Khari received critical acclaim for his Freedom Singer project, recreating the music fugitive slaves carried on their journey north into Canada. Khari also performs with the Roots Gospel group The Sojourners. Whether on stage or in the studio, Khari’s passion for community, equality and justice is palpable, as is his belief in the redemptive power of music.