BY: CHELSEA OWUSU
The Canada International Black Women Event (CIBWE) premiered on June 16th, to celebrate the success of hundreds of black women across Canada.
CIBWE is a platform that recognizes the legacy that black women are continuing to build in Canada, through their education, leadership, and success. The two-day event was held at the Pearson Convention Centre, with a number of different vendors, exhibitions, and demonstrations presented throughout the day.
“The event is really a platform that we started three years ago, and we’re going to keep building. A platform to celebrate black women, but also present black women,” says Rose Cathy Handy, Founder of CIBWE.
Handy created the event after the death of her little sister, Esther. The testimonies were given by many people who attended her sister’s funeral inspired her to find a way to honor the life of her beloved sister.
“I never knew that side of her life. Being inspired by that, being touched by that, I realized that we tend to have this thing where we assume a lot of things about each other. A lot of people, they don’t publicize what they do, a lot of people do amazing things, a lot of charitable work, a lot of philanthropic work, but they don’t say it,” says Handy.
Every year CIBWE awards 100 black women for their achievements. “We go through that selection every year, and it’s a challenge. But I’m glad that we can meet that challenge. Every year we have 100 amazing black women come forward, they have amazing stories,” says Handy. This year’s nominees include Kayla Greaves, Editor at Huffington Post Canada, Kayla Grey, Reporter for TSN Radio, and Dr. Juliet Michelle Daniel, Biology Professor at McMaster University.
This year’s event, CIBWE made an effort to create more conversation between experts and guests. “In the past, we usually had a bunch of panels. But from what we heard through a survey, the panels did not give people a chance to have a close-up conversation. That’s why this year we decided to change the format a little bit,” says Handy. This year’s panel was divided into separate clinics, where experts from various different educational backgrounds sit around a table answering any questions guests may have, allowing for direct conversation.
Experts at the event were from various different backgrounds including business, healthcare, education, hair and style, law, nutrition, and spiritual growth.
“It’s really important to have that platform where people can meet once a year, find out who’s out there and doing what. It’s important to keep supporting each other and relying on each other so that we can keep growing,” says Handy.
Though CIBWE recognizes the many black women of success in Canada, Handy says more media outlets need to mention what these women have done for the community. “The fact that we don’t have a lot of media about black people, our content is not out there. It’s really important that we know each other, because we usually bring ourselves down, and think negatively about ourselves. But when you look back, you’ve actually accomplished so much,” says Handy.
Handy describes CIBWE as a platform that allows the black community to connect and find resources, due to the lack of representation from mainstream media. “It gives people a chance to see what these black women are really capable of. It’s really about celebrating, showcasing, and highlighting what they do and presenting it to people to let them hear who they are and what they do, so people can connect with them,” says Handy.
More information about CIBWE can be found on their website, www.cibwe.ca.