By Jasminee Sahoye
It was intended to engage, provoke, inspire and connect leading minds through an interactive presentation by distinguished and featured speakers, and for those who attended the Professional Women’s Forum in Brampton, they say it really did.
Organized by the United Achievers Community Services, (UACS) Inc., the forum, which brought together three vibrant and professional women to share their stories of struggles and achievements, was inspiring according to a number of those who attended.
The women, who are of colour and of immigrant parents or immigrants themselves, have all reached “great heights.” They are NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough-Rouge River); MPP Mitzie Hunter, Ontario Associate Minister of Finance, and Ohenewa Akuffo, Olympian and World medallist.
According to organizers, the forum, the third of its kind, was intended to commemorate and celebrate women of excellence in the region and beyond by recognizing their contribution to public service, professional practice and philanthropic endeavours.
UACS Inc. President Leon Barrett tells The Camera that the forum is aimed at outreach and to get young people more involved. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t have too many young people here who need to hear certain messages especially when some of them don’t seem to be behaving in a way they should. Some of them are not living up to expectations; put it that way, so there is need for it.”
And in its efforts to engage youth, Barrett says, through funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, UACS Inc. has started the Youth Arts Initiative which will provide training programs for youth at risk in certain geographic areas in Brampton.
“We have partnered with Rogers and a few other organisations to do some training for us,” he says.
Some three decades ago, the United Achievers Club was started by a group of residents in Brampton from Jamaica and since then it has grown into three components – the club, community services, and housing, with each having its own president.
Barrett says UACS Inc, supports, encourages and participates in many alliances, collaborations, social events and community activities that strengthen support and promote Peel Region’s Caribbean and Black communities.
Barrett, a Jamaican Canadian, explains that while each component of the organisation hosts its own programs and events, there have been constant fundraising events to keep its doors open despite some funding from government.
Starting this year, the organization had its first Carabram Caribbean pavilion. Carabram is an annual event hosted by the City of Brampton.
The organization also has a number of other programs such for seniors, a steelpan and dancing programs.