2019 Conference KeyNote Speaker

Dr. Naa Afua Dadesen Cooper

Dr. Afua Cooper is the 3rd James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian studies at Dalhousie University. She holds a Ph.D. in Black Canadian history from the University of Toronto. A multidisciplinary scholar and artist, her expertise includes African Canadian history and culture, gender, slavery, abolition, and freedom, Black orature, and education. She has conducted research on Black life and culture all across Canada, and internationally. Her co-authored publication We’re Rooted Here and they Can’t Pull Us Up: Essays in African Canadian Women’s History won the Joseph Brant prize for the best history book. Her ground-breaking book on Canadian slavery, The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Slavery in Canada and the Burning of Old Montreal was nominated for the Governor General’s award. She also received the Harry Jerome Award for Professional excellence, and was featured on SSHRC’s website for her work on African Canadian history. An academic leader, she is the founder of the Black Canadian Studies Association, and the Dalhousie Black Faculty and Staff Caucus. Afua also created the Black and African Diaspora Studies Minor at Dalhousie, making it the first of its kind in a Canadian institution of higher learning.


In April 2018, Afua was installed as Halifax’s Poet Laureate. She is an accomplished poet and novelist who has published five books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed Copper Woman and Other Poems, and two historical novels. Her creative works have been recognized with national and international awards. In Feb. 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recognized Dr. Cooper as one of the women, through her work in Black Studies, who are changing Canadian society for the better.



2019 Conference Speaker

Kobra Rahimi, an Inspiration

Thirty-Year old Kobra Rahimi is a Kurdish-Canadian lawyer. She lived the first 14 years of her life at a refugee camp in Iraq. Since arriving in Canada, Kobra has committed herself to turning her family’s struggles into opportunities to be a positive addition to the Winnipeg community. She was selected as one of Manitoba's Future 40 Under 40 in 2018, a celebration of future leaders and change-makers shaping the future of Manitoba.

Passionate about higher education, Kobra completed her degree at the U of W and then moved on to study law at the University of Manitoba.  She received the Emerging Leaders Award for displaying exceptional leadership qualities within the university community during her studies.

In 2014, she co-organized a rally of over 1,000 people to demand clean drinking water for Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. In 2016 she coordinated student placements at Welcome Place to assist asylum seekers, a program that continues. 


Kobra regularly speaks at various community events about her family’s story of displacement, loss, finding of home and stability in Manitoba. She was a guest speaker at the Annual Holocaust & Human Rights Symposium and spoke alongside Lawrence Hill in an event hosted by CBC.  Through her accomplishments, advocacy and daily work, Kobra wants to inspire young newcomer refugees.



2019 Conference - Plenary Speaker

Dr. Graham Hudson

Graham is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology at Ryerson University. He holds a B.A. (Hons) in History and Philosophy from York University, a J.D. from the University of Toronto, an LL.M. from Queen's University, and a Ph.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School. His doctoral studies focused on the impact of international and comparative human rights on the Canadian security certificate regime. 

Graham is a member of several research teams, including the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society’s SSHRC Partnership Grant (Co-Applicant) and a SSHRC Insight Grant on the intersection of security, irregular migration and asylum (Co-Applicant; Prof. Idil Atak, PI).

He is also conducting a legal and empirical study of “sanctuary city” policy in Toronto (funded by the RBC Immigrant, Diversity and Inclusion Project), in collaboration with Drs. Idil Atak, Michele Manocchi, and Charity-Ann Hannan. Finally, he is studying the use of secret evidence in Canadian courts with Dr. Daniel Alati (funded by the Foundation for Legal Research). 

Graham teaches courses on criminal law, criminal courts, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and an experiential "criminal law in practice" seminar, in partnership with lawyers Chris Chorney, Apple Newton-Smith, and Jason Gourda.



2019 Conference - Plenary Speaker

Mr. Egbert Gaye, Publisher/Editor, The Community Contact, Montreal, Quebec

A graduate of Concordia University School of Journalism, Egbert Gaye is the founder and managing editor of Montreal Community CONTACT, a newspaper serving Quebec’s Black and Caribbean community. Over the past 26 years, the CONTACT published fortnightly, has grown into an institutional force providing Montrealers with news and information relevant to the diverse community of Blacks that constitute 3% of the population of Quebec, the third largest cultural group in the province.  

More importantly, in keeping with Egbert’s commitment to education and activism Community CONTACT has been a training ground for young and aspiring journalists and writers from various communities across Montreal, all of whom at one time or another have brought their unique perspectives to conversations about our community.  Egbert also sees the Community Contact, part of the strong Ethnic media in Canada, as a powerful tool to project positive aspects and images of the Black Communities that are often cast in negative light by mainstream media outlets.

Egbert also works as a political commentator at CJAD Radio 800 AM and at City Life on Videotron’s MA TV. His unique and oft-times controversial positions on a range of political and social issues have made him a distinct voice in Montreal. He is also a strong advocate for the development and political empowerment of the Quebec’s Black and Caribbean community.

Gary Martin:
An iconic master musician

Music as a powerful Tool in the Migration process and settlement

Gary Martin immigrated to Canada from the United States after receiving an honorable discharge from the U.S.Army where he specialized in human rights. Gary is an iconic master musician, ethno-musicologist, international martial arts master, a human rights activist, community arbitrator, and a high risk youth gang specialist.

For Gary, Music was a gift. He was a child protege who has since mastered jazz, blues, Motown, and almost every other genre of music. Growing up in one of the highest ranking cities for gangs in the United States and surviving a beating from 32 gang members in Chicago he began a lifetime of understanding and working with high risk youth. He attended the National Gang Crime Research Centre specializing in youth gangs. Meeting Dr. Martin Luther King and many of his colleagues sent him on a path as an activist. He studied under the late Dr. Yusef Kly and is a member of the International Human Rights of American Minorities.

Gary says that “when assessing the value of immigration it is worth while remembering the story of our music history. Music, a merger of cultures was built on the shoulders of immigrants”.