2024 Black History Month: Building Blocks for Black Futures

Seneca Polytechnic will be celebrating Black History Month through the theme of Building Blocks for Black Futures. This theme represents the importance of our foundations as an institution to address and dismantle the inequities faced by Black communities while calling for the urgent need to build new foundations that nurture a future of justice and possibilities. This year’s building blocks developed by the Black Employee Engagement (BEE) include health, community, excellence and Afrofuturism. This is a starting place to reimagine Black futures and spark dialogue on our responsibilities to address anti-Black racism in February and beyond.

We're #SenecaProud of the employees who are part of the BEE group and dedicated to raising awareness of issues experienced by the Black community year-round.

  • Charles Ahanonu, Digital Recruitment Project Manager, Seneca International
  • Natasha Binns, Associate Director, Campus Experience & Events
  • Nicole King, Senior Test Centre Officer, Test Centre
  • Raymond Peart, Professor, School of Arts & Sciences
  • Rema Tavares, Manager, Employee Inclusion
  • Glenna Thomas, Student Life Co-ordinator, Student Experience & Engagement

Birgit Umaigba

Seneca Talks: Black Health Keynote

Date: Thursday, Feb. 1

Time: 11 a.m. to noon

Location: The Northern Hive, Magna Hall, King Campus (watch live steam here)

Kickoff Black History Month at Seneca Polytechnic with a special keynote address on Black health and well-being by Birgit Umaigba, Honours Bachelor of Science - Nursing degree graduate and registered nurse. This keynote will speak to the urgent need for an anti-racist health care that addresses the historic and systemic health inequities faced by Black communities. She will share strategies on building an equitable health care system and will engage attendees in critical thought on their individual and communal responsibilities. 

All are welcome to attend and light refreshments will be served.

Email the Office for Reconciliation & Inclusion for access needs.

About Birgit Umaigba

Birgit Umaigba is an award-winning registered nurse and health equity activist who is committed to creating an anti-racist healthcare system. Her advocacy work has blazed a trail of positive change and she is a sought-after consultant and speaker on healthcare, leadership, mental health, EDI and anti-racism and anti-oppressive pedagogy. With a remarkable career spanning diverse domains, Ms. Umaigba brings a unique lens to every conversation as she inspires audiences to ignite change, challenge norms and build a future based on fairness and equity.


Seneca Student Federation (SSF) commemorates Black History Month

Join SSF to commemorate Black History Month across all campuses! Be immersed in empowering discussions and vibrant cultural activities to honour the history and amplify the voices of Black communities.

King Campus

  • Wednesday, Feb. 7 from noon to 2:30 p.m. at The Northern Hive, Magna Hall 

Newnham Campus

  • Thursday, Feb. 8 starting at noon at the SeneCentre

Markham Campus

  • Tuesday, Feb. 6 from noon to 2:30 p.m. at the Cafeteria

Seneca@York Campus

  • Thursday, Feb. 1 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Cafeteria

Seneca Nigerian Student's Club Black History Month Event

Date:                   Wednesday, Feb. 7

Time:                   3 to 7 p.m.

Location:            The Great Hall, Room A1531, Building A, Newnham Campus

Join Seneca Nigerian Student’s Club (SNSC) for a special meet and greet during Black History Month. Meet members of this year’s SNSC and hear remarks from guest speaker Fikayo Aderoju.

Ogho Ikhalo

Black Burnout and Finding Joy in Community 

Date: Thursday, Feb. 8

Time: 11 a.m. to noon

Location: The Great Hall, Room A1531, Building A, Newnham Campus

Black employees are invited to take part in a frank dialogue on racial burnout that Black communities experience and talk about finding joy in community. This event will be facilitated by Ogho Ikhalo, Journalism diploma program graduate and Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Talent Acquisition at Hydro One.

Please note that this event is only for Black employees at Seneca Polytechnic. Light refreshments will be served.

Register to attend by February 7.

Email the Office for Reconciliation & Inclusion for access needs.

About Ogho Ikhalo

Ogho Ikhalo (she/her) is a feminist, a diversity, equity and inclusion specialist, a professional strategic communicator, social justice activist and a community advocate. Ms. Ogho currently serves as a Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Talent Acquisition with Hydro One, where she is leading efforts to develop, enhance and execute the strategy, roadmap, and programming to propel diversity, equity and inclusion, and attract/retain top talent across the organization.

Afro Grooves Workshop

Afro Grooves Workshop

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 13

Time: 1 to 4 p.m.

Location: The Northern Hive, Magna Hall, King Campus

Come and get your groove on with Seneca Student Federation in an Afro Grooves workshop. Learn different African-style dances and the unique history behind each of them. Participants will have the chance to perform the dances or hang out while listening to some Afro music. This event will also include food, a DJ, and a photo booth. All are welcome to this event.

Ekow Nimako

Afrofuturistic Art Unveiling and LEGO® Workshop

Date: Thursday, Feb. 15

Time: 11 a.m. to noon

Location: Library, Seneca@York Campus

Celebrate the unveiling of Ekow Nimako's art in the Library at Seneca@York Campus and take part in a workshop on Afrofuturism and how LEGO® play can be used to rebuild more inclusive worlds.

All students and employees are welcome to the art unveiling. Registration is required for the workshop. Light refreshments will be served.

Email the Office for Reconciliation & Inclusion for access needs.

Register to attend the workshop by February 14

About Ekow Nimako

Ekow Nimako (he/him) is a Ghanaian-Canadian, internationally exhibiting artist, who crafts futuristic and whimsical sculptures using LEGO®. Combining a multidisciplinary and formal arts program, Nimako explores Afrofuturism, Africanfuturism, and Black narratives through an unmistakable figurative aesthetic that transcends the iconic medium. Nimako has exhibited works in Canada, United States, Germany, Korea, UAE, Austria, and the United Kingdom. His artworks have been acquired by the TD Bank Corporate Art Collection, Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection, Urban Nation Musuem for Urban Contemporary Art, and the Aga Khan Musuem Permanent Collection.

Innovate, Elevate, Celebrate: Black Professionals Panel 

Date: Thursday, Feb. 15

Time: 4 to 5 p.m.

Location: The Great Hall, Room A1531B, Building A, Newnham Campus 

Join Black Students United and Student Life for a candid panel discussion featuring Black Seneca alumni as they share their journeys after graduation and experiences navigating the career world as Black professionals. This event will also provide a space to network amongst fellow graduates. All are welcome to this event and light refreshments will be served.

Register to attend by February 12.

About the Panelists

Cheyenne Scarlett – Seneca Professor, ECE and Co-founder of The Black Birth Project

Cheyenne Scarlett, (MA ECS, BCD, ECE) is an educator, advocate and speaker on a mission to empower perinatal health professionals and families with evidence-based data and resources to create a safe and inclusive practice for all birthing people. She has worked to transform health program development at all levels, and continues to advocate for the federal implementation of race-based data for Black Canadians. Ms. Scarlett is a professor in Seneca's ECE department and co-founder of the The Black Birth Project.

Joesph Osei Bonsu

Joseph Osei Bonsu – Freelance Illustrator and Owner Of Heroes Of The World

Joesph Osei Bonsu is co-owner of Heros of the World, a comic-inspired brand that has designed more than 1,200 characters representing diverse countries and includes a comic book series. The first superhero, Captain Ghana, pays homage to Mr. Bonsu’s Ghanaian background. In 2021, Bonsu released Race With Me! featuring Olympic medalist Andre DeGrasse and was commended as one of the Best Books for Kids and Teens by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. 

Micael Burgess

Michael Burgess – Chief Executive Officer at Nerpy's Inc.

Micael Burgess and founder of Nerpy, which was created as a tribute to his Jamaican heritage and the diverse Toronto community he grew up in. He spotted in the market, a lack there-of spicy hot sauces and marinades in a city where the demand for spicy food was growing. He then created, Nerpy’s with a mission to introduce their customers to great tasting, deliciously flavoured hot sauces and marinades. Nerpy's Inc. produces award winning hot pepper sauces, seasoning rubs and marinades. 

Stacey Ann Berry

Stacey Ann Berry – Government Relations Consultant, Author and Speaker

Stacey Ann Berry is the Founder and President of Bstellar® Group Inc. Stacey serves as the Toronto Chapter President for Blacks in Technology Foundation, which makes tech careers more accessible for Black professionals and provides resources, mentorship, career development and scholarships. Stacey is also a published author, workshop facilitator and has extensive professional experience in senior and administrative roles in private, non-profit and public sectors.

Events taking place