“Where We Are Now” hosted the 3rd annual Black Excellence Gala and Awards event last Saturday night honouring members of London’s Black community.
“It’s to say thank you to those that have forged the way, and continue to forge the way, so that others, like myself and others coming up behind me, are able to have businesses in this city,” said Pastor Sandie Thomas, who founded Where We Are Now (W.E.A.N).
Among the recipients were Leroy Hibbert, Broderick Nevison, Marque Smith, whose work in the community garnered awards for Lifetime Achievement, Black Male Entrepreneurship, and 2SLGBTQIA Black Entrepreneurship respectively.
Leroy Hibbert – the Lifetime Achievement Award – was recognized for his decade of work in helping to advance diversity and inclusion in the community.
Hibbert serves as the multicultural outreach program coordinator at LUSO Community Services, a non-profit multicultural neighbourhood resource centre in London’s east end.
His work sees him speak to schools, corporations, and community groups, focusing on anti-racism education, cross-cultural education, and humility and understanding.
“It was just a wonderful experience to be recognized for the work that I’m doing within the community. It was an honour.”
Hibbert praised the Black Excellence Gala as both a way to recognize others within the Black community, and to see what other people are doing and reconnect.
Broderick Nevison, who received the Black Male Entrepreneurship Award, was recognized for his more than decade of business ownership in London.
Nevison has operated Corporate Imaging Centre, a print and design company on in the downtown London for the last 13 years.
“It’s good to recognize people of color in the community that are giving back to the community,” Nevison said.
“I think it helps certainly with the younger generation to… set an example for participation in the community and for giving back to the community.”
Marque Smith received the 2SLGBTQIA Black Entrepreneurship Award for his work bringing music “to many of our different organizations within our Black community,” Thomas said.
Smith currently serves as the music director at Sarnia’s Grace United Church, and has worked with Musical Theatre Productions, the London Fringe Festival, and Original Kids, among others.
In 2012, he was among those who received the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
“I am a full time musician in the City of London and abroad, and I work in the church, in the school, in the community, in the theatre,” he said.
“I hope that I could be a mentor to kids who are wanting to go into the artistic fields, especially those who are part of the communities that I’m in.”
Others recognized during the awards ceremony included Rosemary Williams, who received the Black Female Entrepreneurship Award, recognized for “her longevity in business as a Black woman.”
Pastor Errol Lottery received the Humanitarian Award.
“(Lottery) is a pastor who is a humanitarian, always helping people when they’re coming into the community for over 40 years with food, clothing, a place to live,” said Thomas.
Manifest SkinCare was also awarded the Certificate of Recognition for Black children in Business, and Adelae Jewellery the Certificate of Recognition for Black Youth in Business.