BY: ASHELLY SMITH
When you hear ‘Black Fruits’ I bet you are thinking about delectable sweet fruits such as blackberries, black cherries, dark plums, huckleberries or even prunes! But that is not what ‘Black Fruits’ means for the Educational Foundation for Children’s Care Canada (EFCCC). It means nourishing, rich and memorable black people who have made an impactful history that we are proud of today. The Educational Foundation for Children’s Care Canada and Metro Youth invited the community to the inaugural Black History event created Black Fruits Embrace STEM for Change, a black history business affair 365 sponsored by Toronto Dominion Bank (TD). The event took place on Sunday, March 18th from 11am-6:15 pm at the Apple Creek Community Church Auditorium in Markham. The President of the EFCCC and Immediate Past President of the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) Pauline Christian saw it suitable to host this affair in Markham as the city is the Technology Capital of Canada. The business affair focuses on S.T.E.M. which means Science Technology Engineering Art and Math.
At the business affair, the Caribbean Multicultural Inventors Museum featured the International African Inventors Museum which comprised of several informational exhibits such as Mummies’ Fake Toes Could Be First Prosthetics, The Making of Papyrus, Dr. Garth Taylor, Dr. Kingsley R. Chin and Dr.Lincoln Edwards just to name a few. What really stood out to me at the exhibition was the Mummies Fake Toes Could Be First Prosthetics and The Making of Papyrus. With attention to the Mummies Fake Toes, when this mummy lived, she was able to walk like an Egyptian thanks to a false toe. The toe, made of wood and leather, maybe the world’s earliest known functional prosthetic. On the other hand, The Making of Papyrus was amongst the earliest civilizations to record their ideas and findings, which were later transmitted to the whole world. This was only possible because of the development of papyrus paper making over 4,000 years ago. At each business affair, there are guest speakers but at Black Fruits STEM for Change, there were dignitaries, guest speakers, performers, and presenters. Bob Saroya Member of Parliament at Unionville Markham and Regional Councillor Nirmala Armstrong were two of the dignitaries present. The keynote speaker was Almas Jiwani who is a global voice for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Almas Jiwani is the President of UN Women Canada National Committee and CEO of Frontier Canada Inc. She said in her speech that people often asked her why she chose to focus specifically on women and this was her response,
“My answer is a simple-we focus on women and girls because evidence accrued over decades of international development work has proven that the status and role of women is the best clue to a nation’s growth potential and is a key factor in determining a society’s standard of living.”
Jiwani is an influential speaker and she continues to travel across the globe to deliver keynote addresses, speeches, and presentations on improving the status of women. She was well appreciated by the audience as she had just flown in from Dubai to be present at the affair.
One of the three guest speakers who stood out to the audience was David Mitchell, Assistant Deputy Minister Children and Youth Services. He delivered a profound speech when he talked about young people.
“You’re living in an age now where everything is about the network and you need to be able to engage in activities that build your network outside of your usual social circles. We need to network and interact with everybody in order to get the opportunities so that your friend can say to somebody, I have a friend that wouldn’t mind this opportunity.”
He further elaborated on the younger generation communication style.
“The importance of writing things out in full. I’m seeing now in emails people be sending all sort of interesting things like LOL it took me awhile to get to that. I saw something this week but I can’t remember what it was, so I just wrote back WYT and then they say what’s that? Then I say exactly what is that! You’re sending your boss something with letters and assuming that I know all this, that’s not how people talk” he said while the audience laughed.
Soon it was lunchtime and on the menu, there was chicken patties, vegetables, (cucumbers, carrots, sweet peppers, broccoli), pineapples and tuna sandwiches. This was also the time where guests went around to see small business expo such as Primerica, Mavisco Financial Services Inc., 7-Sol POS etc. Mavisco Financial Services Inc. is a tax preparation and accounting services for individuals, self-employed, business and corporations. Marva Dennis, the business owner said,
“I’m here today because it is an event you should not miss at all, it’s an event for the community and anything that promotes my community I’m fully with it. I like things that help to change the lives or uplift the lives of the community.”
Errol Dennis, Marva’s husband was also there to showcase his business, 7- Sol POS which is an Information Technology business.
“It’s a new start-up register to operate in Canada and we are about to make some changes in the I.T. industry.”
“What kind of changes are those?” I asked.
“We believe we will be able to revolutionize the way technology is done in terms of record keeping, and we will be able to provide that kind of support for small and medium-sized businesses to be able to empower them to do their records in far greater efficiency far greater ease at a significantly low cost.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if your records are kept up-to-date and your reports are available at the press of a button? That is exactly what 7-Sol POS will do for you.
The President of the ECCCF Pauline Christian was a very busy lady at the event as she was the MC producer of the affair. Finally, I caught her to ask her why is this event important?
“This is a very important event and the reason why is because I have been so busy working in the community and I realize that the focus of black people especially black youths is known only in February and thinking about this going to the white house speaking with Members of Parliament and about black history and the decade for people of African descent 1915-1924. I thought you should be putting more focus especially during this period on black issues and the systematic barriers that are preventing us from getting ahead we should be talking about it daily. So, the event is Black Fruits Embrace STEM for Change and then we added at the bottom of it that it is a black history business affair 365 which means we will be doing it 365 days for the year so it should not be a one month focus and I thought that our community needs to hear this. We need to start to get this into the DNA’s of our children…” she explained.
Pauline loves young people very much. This is not always the case with older people, they tend not to be fond of the younger generation. Perhaps because of how the younger generation have been raised. But Pauline has a different take on this matter.
“The love came from the fact that, I feel that when I was young, young people were not respected. I came from a church where you speak when you’re spoken to and adults would have the power and young people would not. So even the way how I design and how I treat my children in my family they get equal opportunity to have their say to be respected. So, from there when I was about 15 or 16 I decided that I want to be an advocate for young people…” she said.
Pauline was blessed to have volunteers like Joanna Stewart who came to help her with the event. Joanna who is 24 years old, a social work student at the University of Windsor described the event.
“I feel like this event needs to be done. I feel like it is important especially for our black youth to know that there are other areas they can excel in so Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics is what STEM stands for so for us to be able to promote it and have different booths here with different people in the different areas, I think it’s a great thing happening!”
Joanna was excited to be a food server as she is all for the change in the black community.
This event came out of an urgency for the EFCCC Board and the community to move the focus on (1) black history, especially as it relates to STEM and (2) restoration of the black economy, from just a one month focus in February to an all year focus. If this event has peaked your interest, you should come next year for another thriving black people movement for change.