Community Celebrates Awards at BARC Fund-Raising
BARC E.D., Esther Simon (r), with Western Union representatives
BARC E.D., Esther Simon (r), with Western Union representatives
The African community in Toronto celebrated the achievement of some of its members at an Award Dinner night held on Saturday, June 26th, 2004 at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church 80 Tycos Drive, Toronto.

The celebration was organized to share in the successes and to show-case the talent of the
cream of African Canadians most of which had hitherto gone unnoticed. It was attended by a cross section of the African community in Toronto.

Awards Dinner   Awards Dinner   Awards Dinner   Awards Dinner
The Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Ola Kassim underscored the

importance of the event to the African community. This he stressed is especially relevant to the younger ones whom he encouraged to see these successful Africans as role models they should try to emulate. He lauded the idea behind the recognition dinner and urged that similar events be organized in future.

The main highlight of the evening was the formal recognition of six members of the African community in Toronto that have made significant successes in their fields of endeavour.

Chioma Ikejiani, originally from Nigeria, is a recipient of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for achievements as a young Canadian entrepreneur. An internationally recognized motivation speaker, Chioma has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey show. She was recognized for her tireless contribution to the development of the African community in Toronto.

Dr. George Dei from Ghana, Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies at OISE, Univeristy of Toronto, an accomplished academic that has won numerous awards including the 2003 Community Builder Award bestowed upon him by the Continuing Education Department of the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

Also recognized at the event was Amanuel Melles from Eritrea, Manager for Community Action Unit at Family Service Association of Toronto. Amannuel's extensive involvement in the community earned him the Skills for Change New Pioneers Award, and in 2002, the Jane Jacobs Prize.

Dr. John Kitakufe a Physician who like most Africans came from humble beginnings in Uganda, has worked hard and took on the challenges facing immigrants in Canada. Today, Dr. Kitakufe runs a successful family practice that helps a large number of African immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area. He was recognized for his achievements in medicine and service to the African community.

The climax of the recognition ceremony was that of a Nigerian couple, Dr. Isa Odidi & Dr. Amina Odidi, world-renowned players in the pharmaceutical industry. The Odidis are leading edge innovators in the research, design, development and fabrication of controlled delivery technology platforms. Their work has earned them numerous international awards and recognition including the prestigious Harry Jerome award in the category of Technology and Innovation, being the first persons to win the award in that category. This pioneering milestone acheivement by the Odidis was crucial to the idea of organizing this community event.

Following the recognition ceremony, Dr. Pat Williams made a stimulating presentation on Diversity in Africa that traced the history of Africa from pre-colonial times to date. Dr. Williams lamented the lack of development in Africa since independence and concluded by urging "Africans to get organized".
Dr. Mulera, Dr. Pat Williams, Rev. Robert Lawal
(L-R) Dr. Mulera, Dr. Pat Williams, Rev. Robert Lawal

Awards Dinner   Awards Dinner
Sponsored by Western Union and other generous community businesses, the Dinner event was organized by the Broad African Resource Centre (BARC) in partnership with other African agencies in Toronto.
These include the Community Learning Partnership (CLP), National African Integration and Families Association (NAIFA) and African Canadian Social Development Council (ACSDC).

In her closing remarks, the E.D. of BARC, Esther Simon, thanked everyone present especially the sponsors and volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the event a success.
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