By Jasminee Sahoye
As Black History month celebrations come to an end and many African Canadians are given kudos for their contributions, there are still some who are quietly working behind the scenes and making a difference in the lives of young black men and women.
One notable individual in this pursuit is Gwyneth Matthew-Chapman, who is passionate about helping young people in the community strive for success and excellence.
The daughter of St. Lucian parents Cyril Matthew and Sheila Chapman, Matthew-Chapman has over the past 30 years contributed to the community as a volunteer and advocated for black youth among her other passions.
She served as a television host, producer, motivational speaker, community advocate and president of the Canadian Black Caucus, launched in 2009 aimed at ensuring and maintaining an African-Canadian presence within the Canadian political system.
According to Ms Matthew-Chapman, the caucus works with the school boards and community centres to assist in teaching and training young leaders in various areas of service on all levels of government.
This non-partisan organization has created the Inspiring Leaders Network and Forum, a monthly event aimed at creating opportunities for youth to learn from the experiences of past and present elected officials as well as respected community leaders.
Emerging leaders engage in discussions on progressive ideas and practical solutions. “This platform also allows for networking and political mentoring some of the ways we can help collectively move our community forward,” Matthew-Chapman said.
A native of St Lucia, Ms Matthew-Chapman advocated for youth in her country of birth. Amidst some controversy, she successfully provided a brighter future for 29 St. Lucians who benefited from full scholarships to the Illinois Institute of Technology.
This mother of two daughters believes that family comes first. It was tough caring for her children and working, so she gave up her journalism career to devote herself to the girls. Now, she is ready to get back into the journalism field. “Through TV, I will use this platform to inspire kids as they need that more now. I’ll be looking for support from all levels of government as well as businesses. We need to have some serious TV programs that will showcase what young people and young adults are doing. That’s my passion,” she told The Camera.
Her words of encouragement to young people are to always aspire to remain focused on the career goal.
“You may have goals you have in mind to do. You may not be in a position to go after these goals but don’t give up on your goals. There will be people around you who would tell you that you can’t make it, people who will not support you. I want young people to stay confident, keep their eyes on the prize, stay focused and know that one day they will finally get to their destination because they’re taking one step at a time…,” this activist, who has gained the recognition of some prominent people in Canada including the former PC leader, John Tory, whom she served as campaign co-chair for his mayoral candidacy, stressed during a chat with this newspaper.
This “go-getter” never stops exploring how she could bring about changes in the community. This Spring, she is organising a conference to assist fathers and men in Toronto. The “Inspiring Black Men’s” conference will assist men in meeting the challenges of fatherhood. This event will focus on bringing black men together to help in the development of themselves and their roles in community as a whole.
And as she continues to gain recognition for her selfless work in the community, Ms Matthew-Chapman was recently presented with the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal for her community service to Canada.