Beyond the Decade: Moving from Hashtags to Action

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Black Opportunity Fund cordially invites you to Beyond the Decade: Moving from Hashtags to Action, a conversation with Gaynel Curry Independent Expert Member of the UN Permanent Forum of People of African Descent

In this engaging conversation, we will examine the achievements of the UN Decade for People of African Descent, discuss the need for a 2nd Decade, and delve into the ongoing efforts required. Our focus will be on the current and emerging opportunities and threats impacting the socio-economic advancement of people of African Descent on the continent and throughout the Diaspora.

The UN Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, which became operational on 2 August 2021 through UN General Assembly resolution 75/314, serves as a platform for improving the safety and quality of life and livelihoods of people of African descent. It also serves as an advisory body to the Human Rights Council.

Ms. Curry, with over 23 years of experience at the United Nations, has made significant contributions to the International Decade for People of African Descent. Her various roles have included Human Rights Advisor in Geneva and Gender and Women’s Rights Advisor in New York, with key portfolios in Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste.

This event is proudly presented by the Black Opportunity Fund, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and The McGill Centre for Human Rights & Legal Pluralism, along with Miller Thomson, Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies – University of Toronto, and Diversity Institute – Ted Rogers School of Management

Date: February 8, 2024

Time: 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: MILLER THOMSON LLP, Scotia Plaza, 40 King Street West, Suite 5800

#WeBackBlack #BeyondTheDecade #UNDecadeAfricanDescent #AfricanDiasporaAction #HumanRightsDialogue #AdvancingAfricanDescent

Please be aware that space is limited, and only individuals who have registered in advance will be allowed to attend.

Bio Chief Guillermo Cespedes

Guillermo Cespedes is a violence prevention and intervention expert with over 4 decades of experience at the community, municipal, national, and international level. Cespedes worked in Oakland for 19 years in direct services with families experiencing serious challenges of domestic violence, alcoholism, drug addiction and chronic illness.

In 1999 Cespedes moved to Los Angeles was appointed Deputy Mayor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD). During his tenure in LA, Cespedes guided the implementation of the city’s comprehensive gang violence reduction strategy, touted with reducing 9 categories of violent gang crimes by nearly 50%.

In 2014 Cespedes moved to DC, where he provided technical consultation to the State Department, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Bureau of International Drugs and Law Enforcement (INL) the United States Agency for international Development (USAID).

In 2016 Cespedes moved to Honduras as Deputy Chief of Party for USAID and using that as base of operations, guided the implementation and technical supervision of secondary and tertiary prevention to USAID funded programs in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, St Lucia, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis. In addition, he designed the adaptation and implementation of gang prevention strategies to the prevention of extremist group joining in Tunisia, North Africa.

In September 2019, Cespedes returned to Oakland for a unique position, to build and become the City of Oakland’s first Chief of the Department of Violence Prevention (DVP).

Bio Tanya Sharpe

Tanya Sharpe joined the Factor-Inwentash Faculty in July 2018 after serving as an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work for 11 years. She received her Ph.D. in Social Work from Boston College located in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Sharpe is the founder and director of the Centre for Research & Innovation for Black Survivors of Homicide Victims (The CRIB), a multidisciplinary initiative designed to advance research,policy and practice for and with Black survivors of homicide victims throughout our global community.

Dr. Sharpe is a community-engaged researcher who is passionately committed to the development of culturally responsive approaches and sustainable opportunities allowing Black communities to thrive in the face of homicide violence. Her research examines sociocultural factors that influence the coping strategies of Black family members and friends of homicide victims.

She has developed culturally appropriate interventions and best practices designed to assist African-American survivors of homicide victims in the management of their grief and bereavement. Her comprehensive Model of Coping for African-American Survivors of Homicide Victims (MCAASHV) (Sharpe, 2015) has informed the development of a psychosocial educational intervention (Sharpe, Iwamoto, Massey & Michalopoulos, 2018), and a tool of measurement designed to assess the needs and coping strategies of African-American survivors of homicide victims.

Through interdisciplinary collaborations, Dr. Sharpe utilizes her track record of diverse community engagement to expand upon her seminal research findings by advancing our understanding and delivery of services to African, Caribbean and Black survivors of homicide victims throughout our global communities. Dr. Sharpe’s expertise in the post-homicide experiences of Black survivors of homicide victims has been influential to developing post homicide pedagogy within a broader Canadian context for Racialized communities. Specifically, her research has been successful in transforming the way service providers and policy makers are addressing the chronic and catastrophic experiences of homicide for Indigenous, African, Caribbean, Black (ACB), and Racialized communities with funding from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate.

Dr. Sharpe’s innovative ability to mobilize and disseminate knowledge to the public has brought The CRIB and its mission to the forefront of local and global discourse. Dr. Sharpe has emerged as a public intellectual, having made several radio and television appearances on diverse media outlets to comment on notable homicides and their impact (e.g., CBC Metro Morning, National Public Radio (NPR-USA), CTV News, Global News Canada, and Breakfast Television Canada). At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, and throughout the period of the brutal murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and so many others that don’t appear in the headlines of our newspapers, The CRIB provided intellectual, frank, and impactful sustenance to Black and Brown communities by launching an Instagram Live show entitled 30@8:30. Now in its third season, 30@8:30 remains a uniquely original platform where Dr. Sharpe hosts an expert every Wednesday night for 30 minutes to engage the public in candid conversations about the violent structural inequities that impact Black communities, leaving them disproportionately vulnerable to homicide, COVID-19, mass incarceration, police brutality, compromised mental health, and physical well-being.

Dr. Sharpe’s expertise also includes: Mass Violence and Disaster Research; Qualitative Research Methods; Suicide Prevention and Education Research; and Community Organizing and Program Development.

Dr. Sharpe currently holds the Endowed Chair in Social Work in the Global Community at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and is the recipient of multiple awards: Boston College School of Social Work’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Governor of Maryland’s Victim Assistance Award, the NASW Maryland Chapter’s 2016 Social Work Educator of the Year, the Dr. Martin Luther King Diversity Recognition Award for Outstanding University of Maryland, Baltimore Faculty, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Special Recognition Award for co- developing a course entitled Freddie Gray-Baltimore: Past, Present and Moving Forward, and the University of Maryland’s Organization of African-American Students in Social Work’s Inaugural Spotlight Award.

Bio DeRico Symonds

DeRico Symonds, employed with the Province of Nova Scotia as a Senior Policy Analyst with the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives.

DeRico is a founding member of 3 non-profit organizations. He is a founding member of ACCE (Arts, Culture, Community, Economics) a black operated non-profit organization in Halifax. He has also co- founded GC902 (Game Changers 902), another black operated non-profit organization and social justice advocacy group located in Halifax. DeRico is also a founding member of CLT902 (Community Land Trust 902), a non-profit organization in Halifax working to develop a community land trust to offer affording renting and owning housing options in Nova scotia.

In 2021, DeRico Symonds was named the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action) advisor for BIPOC Tribe Network, Canada’s Entrepreneurship, and Innovation Hub. DeRico Symonds received the Queens diamond Jubilee Century of Service Award, the Irving & Ruth Pink award for youth development and social justice and in 2019, DeRico Symonds received the Dr Burnley “Rocky” Jones Human Right award from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

With an extensive career in community work in our racialized and most marginalized communities, DeRico has a wealth of community engagement experience. DeRico provides counselling to marginalized youth and is called upon during incidences of gun violence in our black community. DeRico Symonds is also an Impact Race and Cultural Assessor (IRCA) with the African Nova Scotian Justice Institute. Continuing to create change, DeRico has co-presented with Megan Neaves on workshops on systemic racism, white privilege, as well as developed and presented on African Nova Scotian history, leadership and education.

DeRico is a co-chair for the National Black Canadian Summit to be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia alongside Vanessa Fells (Director of Operations, DPAD). The summit is housed with the Michelle Jean Foundation. DeRico also serves as a member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee with the Halifax Wanderers Professional Soccer team in Halifax Nova Scotia.

DeRico has tirelessly advocated for communities across HRM for issues including but not limited to: Poverty, Unemployment, Affordable Housing, Marginalization and Community Violence. DeRico Symonds holds an undergraduate degree in Child & Youth Study (2012) and completed a MEd in Counselling through Acadia University (2018). DeRico also has his Canadian Counselling Certification through the Canadian Counselling & Psychotherapy Association of Canada.

For more information please visit
On all Social media platforms – @dericosymonds

Bio Dr. Myrna Lashley

Dr. Myrna Lashley holds a Ph.D (thesis title – Informed Proxy Consent: Communication
between Surgeons and Surrogates about Pediatric Surgery) in counseling psychology from McGill university. She was an Associate dean at John Abbott College She is also an associate professor in the department of psychiatry of McGill University as well as a researcher and project leader at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research of the Jewish General Hospital.

She is an internationally recognized clinical, teaching and, research authority in cultural psychology, and serves as an expert psychological consultant to institutions, including the juvenile justice system. She is also the Chair of the First-Line Psychosocial Science Committee of the Clinical Ethics Committee of CIUSS de centre-ouest-de-l’ile-de-Montréal. She has worked both as a consultant to First Nations and the Jewish communities, and as the Cross Cultural Trainer for the Grievance Committee office of the secretariat for McGill University.

She has also conducted training workshops locally, nationally, and internationally and has acted as a consultant to the Brazilian health care system. She was a director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and has also served on the Comité consultatif sur les relations Interculturelles et Interraciales de la Communauté Urbaine de Montréal.

From 2008 to 2017 she was the Chair of the Cross Cultural Roundtable on Security. She was the Vice-chair of the board of the École Nationale de Police du Québec from 2004 – 2017. As well as conducting research on police matters, she has also been appointed to the Comité expert en matière de profilage racial of the Service de ploice de la Ville de Montréal and to the Comité-conseil sur l’organisation d’une consultation sur le racisme et la discrimination systémique.

She is a consultant to government and non-governmental agencies at the Canadian federal, provincial and municipal levels on issues of equity and inclusivity. In addition to academic publications, she has also authored two training manuals on intercultural issues in the workplace and co-authored book chapters.

She has received several awards including the 2015 Woman of Merit Award from the Playmas Montreal Cultural Association; the Queen Elizabeth II 2012 Diamond Jubilee award; 2006 Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Award for Holocaust studies; the 2004 Martin Luther King legacy award; as well as the 1995 Merit Award for the Kanawake Native survival school.

Her current research focuses on the intersections of culture, terrorism and national security. She is currently Barbados’s Honorary Consul to Montreal.

Bio Paul Bailey

Paul is a strategist, urban planner and Interim Executive Director at the Black Health Alliance. Paul has spent the last decade designing interventions focused on: health and well-being, community violence, mental health and addictions, and the social service sector as it relates to improving outcomes for Black children, youth and families. His work is currently focused on social planning, health equity, and addressing the causes of neighbourhood distress and inequality.