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Celebrating phenomenal Black women, then and now

Black Women in History

Celebrating phenomenal Black women, then and now

By: Surbhi Bir via

The Viola Desmond Awards and Bursary recognizes the outstanding achievements of Canadian Black women

Black women at the university and beyond are transforming communities across Canada and, in some cases, the entire world. The 14th Annual Viola Desmond Awards and Bursary Ceremony celebrated the outstanding achievements of Black women and honoured the legacies of those who came before them.

On March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 13 Black women were recognized for keeping Viola Desmond’s legacy of resistance and resilience alive. In their roles as students, staff, faculty and alumna, these phenomenal Black women are positive role models and advocates of the Black/African-Canadian community.

Viola Desmond was an African-Nova Scotian entrepreneur who challenged racial discrimination in 1946. The annual awards honour her pursuit of human rights and achievements towards desegregating public spaces for Black people in Canada. The awards are organized by Ryerson’s Black History Awareness Committee and consists of students, staff, faculty, alumni and community volunteers.

“Today marks the day we recognize the contributions of the brave human rights advocates of the past and reaffirm our own commitment to creating a more racially just and inclusive…

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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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