Viola Desmond Awards paid tribute to the transformative impact of Black women

Patricia DeGuire

To celebrate the Day for the Elimination of Racism on March 21, 2023, Toronto Metropolitan University hosted a spectacular event to mark the 15th Annual Viola Desmond Awards. The event paid tribute to the transformative impact of Black women across generations, with honorees including Visionary Darrell Bowden, who spearheaded the event from its inception, and Dr. Pat DeGruire, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Dr. Rai Reece, Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, high school student Jeya Nkrumah, philanthropist and TMU alumna Marsha Brown, and Crystal Mark, poet, community activist, and equity educator.

Viola Desmond, a hero and icon who stood up to racial injustice, was honored at the event as the only Black woman to be featured on Canadian money. The event was organized by the Office of the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, which has overseen the Viola Desmond Awards for the past 15 years.

Dr. Ria Reece
Marsha Brown
Crystal Mark

The elegant affair featured catering by Chef Selwyn, who is well known in the community, and entertainment by the Crawford Adventist Choir Academy, whose stirring performance earned three standing ovations.

Distinguished attendees included Hon. Dr. Jean Augustine, Donna Young, Dean of the new TMU Lincoln Alexander Law School, MPP Mitzie Hunter, Patron Dr. Pamela Appelt, and Dr. Donnette Chin-Loy Chang.