Ryerson to honour Black achievers

Several women from Ryerson University’s Black community will be honoured at the seventh-annual Viola Desmond Day Awards ceremony on Monday for their extraordinary achievements.

The recipients, selected by a committee of Ryerson students, staff and faculty, will each receive an award named after prominent Black Canadian leaders.

Kia Cummings, a Grade 12 student from the Linden School, will be given the Viola Desmond Award. Desmond was a Black Nova Scotian businesswoman who challenged racial segregation at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, in 1946.  She refused to leave a white-only area in the theatre and was unjustly convicted of a minor tax violation used to enforce segregation.

Desmond’s case is one of the most publicized incidents of racial discrimination in Canadian history and helped start modern civil rights in Canada.

A Viola Desmond bursary will be presented to Omolara Bukare, a fourth-year social work student, to support her academic studies.

Julia Hanigsberg, former vice-president, administration and finance and current president and CEO of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital will also receive an honorary Viola Desmond award in recognition of her support for the awards during her tenure at Ryerson.

Instructor Ms. Abdillahi of the School of Social Work will receive the Rosemary Brown Faculty Award, while Juannittah Kamera, Department of Student Health and Wellness, will receive the Pearleen Oliver Staff Award.

Oluwatobi Taiwo, a fourth-year Ted Rogers School of Management student, will receive the Lillie Johnson Award, named for Johnson who worked tirelessly to get sickle cell disease recognized by the province of Ontario.