By: Jimena Ruiz Martinez
On January 21, on the 100th birth anniversary of Lincoln Alexander, The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario presented the three young leaders with the Lincoln M. Alexander Award.
The three 2021 recipients are:
Dina Efrem. An 18-year-old young woman who advocates for social justice and equity. She was co-president of her school’s Diverse Student Union, she would host discussions on anti-racism and relevant topics.
While being co-president of the Diverse Student Union the club started giving lessons including topics like; identity, race and ethnicity, colonialism and prejudice, institutional racism, solidarity, action and inaction.
“Some weeks we would have up to 40 students on a Google meet on a Friday afternoon actively participating for hours.” said Efrem “We sought to provide a safe, open space for racialized and non-racialized members to share their raw thoughts and experiences”
Efrem learned about Lincoln Alexander thanks to her English teacher, the same teacher that nominated her for this award, after learning about L. Alexander Efrem says she felt dissappointed because of the lack of education on the contributions of Black Canadians in Canadian society historically and contemporarily.
Even though Efrem graduated Highschool she is now a close mentor for the current executive team of the Diverse Union Student club.
Emmanuel Adegboyega. An 18-year-old young man who is a social justice advocate and co-founder of the Black History Committee at Chaminade High School. He also worked on a project with the Toronto Catholic District School Board to dismantle racism and discrimination in schools.
The idea of creating the Black History Committee started when Adegboyega was in 10th grade with the purpose of having a place for Black Students to feel represented in a predominantly white school.
“We wanted to educate students and staff on what it means to be a Black student as well as shed light on various social issues going on around the world” said Adegboyega “it turned out to be very effective and it received attention beyond the walls of my school.”
After working on some projects with the committee, a video they had done brought the attention of the Toronto Catholic School District School Board, different Toronto Highschools and media platforms including the Toronto Star.
Adegboyega continues to work to eliminate racial discrimination by being part of different clubs at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.
Sydney Hussett-Richardson. A 23-year-old young woman who founded Black Space at McMaster University, she’s also a health and wellness advocate and is passionate about Black youth empowerment.
Lincoln MacCauley Alexander was an important Canadian figure who fought for racial equity and social justice. He was an outstanding Canadian lawyer and politician.
Alexander was the first black member of the Parliament, Cabinet Minister and the 24th Lieutenant-governor of Ontario.
The Lincoln M. Alexander award was created in honour of Alexander’s legacy, dedication and advocacy for the equal treatment of black Canadians.
January 21 is known as Lincoln Alexander Day, his birth date. Every year on this day the award is given to young people who have shown a strong and admirable leadership to eliminate racial discrimination. There are three recipients for this award, two in the Student category and one in the Community category. Each recipient receives a $5,000 cash award and a personalized certificate.