Women feature strongly at Building Diversity Awards

By Lincoln DePradine

From left: Ivan Dawns, Andria Babbington, Chinyere Johnson, Daron Blackburn, and Majora Carter

Every generation spawns its pioneers and trailblazers. Keziah Osei has now joined that elite group of pioneering and trailblazing men and women.

Osei is principal contractor and founder of Keyz to Your Home Renovations.

“I’ve been just busy working as a female contractor in the trades,’’ Osei said last Saturday in Toronto.

She was at the time receiving a Building Diversity Award (BDA) from Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN).

The annual awards, according to TCBN, recognize “leadership in construction’’ and leaders in the skills trades that are “advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the construction industry’’.

A new BDA category – “Contractor to Watch’’ sponsored by the African Canadian Contractors Association – was introduced this year. The inaugural winner was Osei who, in her acceptance speech, said she intends on “inspiring other females to get into the trades’’.

Women, she warned, are “definitely going to make some big moves in the industry. I applaud every female in here that’s doing their thing and creating opportunities for other women’’.

Keziah”Keyz” Osei
Rosemarie Powell

Other BDA winners included Chinyere Johnson, “Nexgen Builders Mentee’’; Brandi Ferenc, a mentor who was presented with the “Community Benefits Champion’’ award; the “Nexgen Builders Employer’’ award was presented to Building Up; Brandi Jonathan was winner of a “Community Benefits Champion’’ award; the “Leading on Diversity Contractors’’ winner was Dream Maker Developments; “Leading on Diversity Owner/Client’’ was copped by Tridel; and the winner of “Leading on Diversity Unions’’ was awarded to IUPAT – the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

The BDA’s recognition ceremony is taking place at an “unprecedented time in Toronto’s history’’, said keynote speaker Majora Carter, a New York-born and raised African-American real estate developer, urban revitalization strategy consultant and award-winning broadcaster.

Through its work, TCBN is helping to “level the playing field, to make it so that everyone can participate in a truly outrageously wonderful way that allows folks to feel like that they don’t have to move out of their neighbourhoods to live in a better one; and that we all can create opportunities to make where we are better for us all’’, Carter, said.

Champion Award to Brandi Jonathan presented by Desjardins VP. Marilyn Horrick
Leading on Diversity Stephen Calendar of ACCA presented to Bryan Sherwood of Tridel

Carter told The Caribbean Camera that organizing public recognition activities like the BDA are “incredibly important to have. These types of events showcase folks that are really trying to do the right thing and are succeeding as they do’’.