Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative – External Reference Group member biographies

The members of the External Reference Group have experience in either leading or serving in a Black organization, committee or a board. The group includes members who:

Gervan Fearon, Ph.D., Chair

Dr. Fearon is the president of George Brown College. Before this, Gervan was the president and vice-chancellor at Brock University in Ontario and Brandon University in Manitoba.

Gervan served as the co-author on the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Festival study. This study highlights the festival’s contributions to the economic vitality of Toronto. He also has greatly contributed to the development of Black communities, including serving as:

  • the president of Tropicana Community Services and personally contributing to a number of community student scholarship programs 
  • a member of the steering committee for the Scarborough Charter
  • keynote speaker at the 2015 and 2017 Canadian Black Studies Association Conferences
  • inaugural chair of the BlackNorth Initiative education committee
  • co-founder/co-chair of the Canada Caribbean Institute
  • chair of the of the Council of Ontario Universities Budget and Audit Committee

Dr. Fearon has been honoured with several awards of recognition, including:

  • the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013)
  • the African Canadian Achievement Award (2016)
  • the City of Toronto Bob Marley Day Award (2022)

Addy Marken, Vice-Chair

Addy Marken is an Ability Advisor for Alberta Health Services.

Before this, Addy was a disability services caseworker for persons with developmental disabilities (PDD) with the Government of Alberta.

Addy has experience in research in the social and health public sectors. She published a research article in the BioMed Central Public Health journal. This article outlines trauma exposure among adolescents in Soweto, South Africa and its implication for HIV prevention.

Addy has also served as a:

  • youth mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary
  • generalist at Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)
  • case manager for Persons with Developmental Disabilities
  • general manager for Help, Learn and Discover
  • lead board member on the Fund Development Committee for Check Your Head

Assane Badji

Assane is an entrepreneur and an international management Consultant. He has more than twenty years of experience in this field.

He coaches Black Canadians in his community and supports them in their job search and career orientation.

Assane is also a member of several organizations. This includes the Collaboration Africa North America, the General Regrouping of Senegalese of Canada and the Canada Africa Trade Development.

From cultural communities to Canadian international cooperation, he has served as the:

  • president of the Intercultural Committee of the City of Pincourt
  • president of the CasaEspoir association
  • head of missions with Public Relations Without Borders.

Fatimat (“Toks”) Ayinla

Fatimat (“Toks”) Ayinla is a coach, speaker, and a successful author of the poetry book “Through my Brown Eyes”.

She hosts the podcast and YouTube channel “Toks Talks”. There, she shares business, relationship, and personal development strategies and tips.

Fatimat also has experience developing strategies and consulting from a diversity, inclusion, and anti-Black racism lens.

Her experience includes:

  • facilitator for the Nia Centre of the Arts
  • workshop coordinator for Black secondary students and book talks in the public and private sector
  • consultant for the Toronto Community Housing on their Confronting Anti-Black Racism (CABR) strategy
  • alumni of the WoodGreen’s Young Leaders Council

Jocelyn Stevens

Jocelyn Stevens is an Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager at the Black Business Initiative Society.

She is a strong advocate for Black advancement and cultural diversity in her New Brunswick community.

Jocelyn has worked on addressing the impacts of racial discrimination and stereotypes facing Black Canadians in education. She has contributed to the development of her community through her experience in the non-profit sector.

Jocelyn’s contributions to the fight against anti-Black racism are shown in her involvements as:

  • a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Multiculturalism for New Brunswick
  • an executive director at Pride of Race, Unity and Dignity through Education (PRUDE Inc.)
  • a project consultant and general volunteer at the New Brunswick Black History Society
  • an expert speaker on minority women’s issues at the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights

Judith Bosire

Judith Bosire is a manager at the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

She has over 10 years of experience as an economist. She has led projects on the social determinants of health. These projects have helped inform policies and economic development initiatives.

Her work has included providing solutions to industry, government and Indigenous communities.

Judith has used her perspective to support Black Canadian communities by serving as board director for:

  • the Black Entrepreneurs and Businesses Society of Canada (BEBC)
  • the Foundation for Black Communities (FFBC)
  • the Willing Hearts International Society Canada (WHISCA)
  • the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (PuSh)
  • the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nations Economic Development Corporation

Pascal Balata, Ph.D.

Dr. Balata is a Senior International Consultant and Audit Expert with a focus on the Grants and Contributions sector.

He is the founder of the Regroupement des Exporateurs en Afrique Francophone (REAF). This is a non-profit organization that helps in the fight against poverty.

He is also an active leader in the Black African community in Montreal.

Pascal's contributions to the fight against anti-Black racism are shown in his commitments as:

  • a consultant and advisor to entrepreneurs involved in Canada-Africa partnerships
  • founder and researcher at Afridescent Diaspora Economic Research Group (ADERG)
  • treasurer at the Montreal Doctoral Students Association for Black Students
  • president of the Cameroonian Association in Montreal

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