Palesa Koitsioe (they/them) was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and migrated to the unceded and ancestral lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ territories, also known as Vancouver. They are Black, queer, non-binary and Tswana speaking. They are a joy-driven learner, coach and mentor.
They have a business called Imbali Bloom Consulting, a hybrid of coaching practice and a consulting one; which allows us to weave mindful care on an individual and a company level. Offering coaching Palesa has a psychology and neuroscience background and has recently been certified as trauma-informed mindfulness and meditation teacher. Currently having started their second podcast Sound on Siren, they aim to use it as an archive as they theoretically trace jazz music and Pan-Africanism back to their African roots/ routes. As we learn our history, Palesa believes that we better understand who we are, and how we can create a world and body we love and thrive within
Kor Kase also known as BUNI Kor is the co founder and Vice President of Afro Van Connect society, a singer/songwriter, musician, producer, community activist and entrepreneur. Born and raised in Vancouver. His art reflects his traditional East African heritage and North American upbringing. Kor’s unique and powerful perspective on life and love bridge a gap between two worlds. Creating a musical experience that is dynamic and empowering.
Tom is a senior business leader, speaker and International #1 Best Selling author with more than 30 years experience helping build and grow companies in Canada and the USA. Tom brings leadership experience from the Financial Services, IT, TELCO, Not-For-Profit, and Health sectors. His career includes senior roles in many of Canada’s prestigious companies including President and CEO, and Chairman of the Board. He is the host and executive producer of The Quiet Warrior Internet radio show.
Tom received the William Shatner MOVING AMERICA FORWARD AWARD for his TV Show and the 2018 Courage to Come Back Certificate of Nomination Finalist for his incredible story. His purpose “To Unleash the Greatness in Others”.
Mariat advocates for Equity, Diversity and inclusion. This advocacy means using the lens of intersectionality for a just and equitable society while amplifying the voices, listening and serving the need of diverse segments. (BIPOC, The 2SLGBTQ community, Youths, Women and Non-Binary, and Persons with disabilities) Mariat also advocates for the emotional and Mental wellbeing for all.
Mariat is a key influencer and Connector in the community with a passion in creating success for Individuals and business owners. Mariat has been recognized for successful projects by the Minister of Small Business (Mary Ng) and the then Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion of Canada (Patty Hadju) now Minister of Indigenous services.
She is a Mother to 3 Grown up Children. Originally from Nigeria, Mariat relocated to Canada 2014 after 23 years in England. She has 25 years’ experience in Banking and Finance across Ireland, England and Canada. She is also an experienced entrepreneur having ran a successful business enterprise in England for 7 year.
Mariat holds an Executive MBA from Athabasca University. She is currently a Regional Manager for BC & The Yukon for TD Bank.
In her spare time, she enjoys reading, networking, horse riding and a dedicated café Hopper.
Adel Gamar is Cofounder and CEO of GLG Ltd—a boutique leadership and management consultancy based in Vancouver. Over the course of his career, he has advised senior leaders of Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations, and governments worldwide.
Gamar served as Education Specialist at UNESCO and Policy Fellow at Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, he taught adaptive leadership and negotiation. In 2015, he advised Charles Ramsey, Co-Chair of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Gamar is an adjunct professor at UBC Sauder School of Business where he teaches adaptive leadership, collaboration, and organizational management. He holds an MPA from Harvard and a B.Ed. from the University of Calgary. He is a husband, a dad, and a relentless optimist.
Dr. Charles Quist-Adade
Dr. Charles Quist-Adade is an academic, community organizer, and leader, with over 25 years of community work. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Africa-Canada Education
Foundation. As a scholar, Dr. Quist-Adade holds a PhD in Sociology and a master’s degree in journalism. He iis as an author and co-author of several books, peer-received articles, and popular press articles and blogs. He specializes in racialization and anti-racism, social justice, social theory, globalization, media, and society. His other interests revolve around the African Diaspora, religion, and global issues.
Dr. Quist-Adade has won several teaching awards and accolades, including being cited twice in the Academic Edition of Canada’s premier news magazine Maclean’s as the top three most popular and one of 10 best professors at the University of Windsor, Ontario. In 2013, he was Kwantlen Polytechnic University Faculty of Arts Dean’s Teaching Award Finalist and 2014.
Dr. Quist-Adade is a poet and a storyteller. He is a member of the Storytellers Association of Canada and Ghana Writers Association. He has performed at various community events in BC since 2005. Dr. Quist-Adade is the director and producer of the video documentary. “The Ones They Left Behind: The Life and Plight of African Russians.”
Dr. Quist-Adade is a Pan-Africanist scholar, who is not only a believer in, but also a practitioner of, praxis–the blending of theory and practice. His work in the community has been recognized and acclaimed across the country. In 2004, he was awarded the Black Community Leadership Award by the Windsor and District Black Coalition. In 1998, he was voted the Ghanaian Man of the Year in Windsor, Ontario. In 2015, he was awarded a Ghanaian Canadian Association Leadership Certificate. In2022, he was BC Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards Nominee, and in the same year, he was a recipient of the Ghanaian Canadian Community Award.
Ruthdol Ywaya is a spoken word performer and a part-time expert-in training in resilience through life’s experiences. She has a passion for healthcare given her vast experiences as a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist in acute care, as well as advocacy work in cultural inclusion in healthcare settings. To address some of the toughest conversions on healthcare, Ruthdol uses spoken word and her pharmacy knowledge as a way to reach out to those who are willing to learn and to encourage those who may be suffering from various stigmatized conditions like mental health or the negative consequences of cultural disparities in healthcare. Ruthdol is excited to bridge her passion for cultural inclusion and healthcare to provide and advocate for better care to all patients, to entertain, and to encourage those who need a little push to continue on this journey of resilience.
Jonathan Cauri is Executive Director of Umoja Operation Compassion, a 20-year-old charity which provides holistic settlement support to multi-barrier newcomers and refugees of all cultural backgrounds living in Surrey.
Umoja’s culturally attuned, trauma informed work is centered on its vision of “Building Strong Communities; Moving from Newcomers to Neighbours.” through upholding the dignity and unique worth of those they serve.
Jonathan has a background in marketing communications, client relations, and organizational development. While he originally served in the private sector, his move to community services was motivated by his lived experience as a first-generation immigrant and a growing burden to contribute his voice to the conversation on defining trends affecting the overall sense of wellbeing for our communities.
On a personal note, he is originally from Nairobi, Kenya and is married with 3 grown children having moved to Canada in February of 2002
Lordnation is a musician, singer, songwriter and instrumentalist. Lordnation was born in Edo state, Nigeria. His love for music started at a young age from listening to different genres of contemporary music and playing in his high school strings orchestra.
The Nigerian Native pulls inspirations from the likes of Kanye West, Damien Escobar, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson etc. “The goal is to inspire kids from the current generation to spread peace and love through music,” says the artist. After experiencing an emotional roller coaster during his migration from Nigeria to Canada, Lordnation has drawn inspiration from his struggles to create original music from the soul. As a means of giving back to the community, Lordnation also teaches classical violin lessons to kids who aspire to follow his musical journey.
By displaying the buoyant sound of the violin in various genres, Lordnation has broken boundaries and gotten the attention of many. His music has captivated audiences and introduced many to the art of the violin by playing beats and songs they can relate to. The growing popularity of the artist has required him to perform at several events in genres such as classical, hip-hop, R&B, and afro-beats.
Leslee Montgomery is an energized speaker that works with individuals and organizations to understand the day-to-day drama impacting decision-making and their driving forces. A Professional Counselor, Mental Focus Specialist with over 15 years of health and safety, Leslee worked her way up from the field to the corporate office supporting c-suite throughout several sectors of the construction industry. She is passionate about helping her clients learn the leadership strategies they need to run a drama free workplace.
Dieko’ (She/her) a Nigerian, came to Canada for her higher education in her late teenage years. Dieko’ being a person with a physical disability, is passionate about increasing awareness, and education on mental health, and disability(ies) issues. Dieko’s journey of resilience began at age five. At age eight, she was clinically evaluated and diagnosed of post-poliomyelitis paraparesis. Her life’s journey through this experience has served to strengthen her resilience, and ignite this passion for promoting a sense of belonging for all.
Armed with a Master of Counseling Psychology from Adler University, British Columbia (BC), Canada, Dieko’ is also currently enrolled in a Master of Arts in Disability Management from UNBC. She believes that life is a journey that often presents many challenges. As such for her, resilience, hope, and her faith in Christ are key components in her life’s journey toward continuous growth and healing. Dieko’s journey to permanent residency was a long and challenging one, and another example of her resilience, courage, optimism, and above all God’s grace. Her life experiences and academic background as a Registered Clinical Counselor (RCC), have provided a solid foundation for her work in the mental health space, as she walks alongside her clients, empowering them in navigating their mental health, and well-being journeys.
Dieko’ has over six years’ experience working with people living with physical and/developmental disability(ies), at Posabilities, Burnaby, BC, supporting them to lead full and flourishing lives in their communities. In her clinical work, at Open Mind Counseling in Coquitlam, BC, Dieko’ develops personalized treatment plans, and provides evidence-based therapy techniques to support clients in their mental health journey. She maintains confidentiality and abides by ethical standards, ensuring clients receive unbiased care. She has volunteered with Mainland Community Services Society (MCSS) in organizing the 2023 dialogue on National AccessAbility Week Celebration. She is also currently volunteering at Moving Forward Family Services, a non-for-profit counseling organization for low-income earners.
Dieko’s journey exemplifies the power of resilience in disability and mental health. From overcoming personal challenges to becoming a beacon of hope for others, she continues to advocate for a world where everyone, regardless of ability, can thrive and achieve their fullest potential. When Dieko’ is not busy working, she enjoys cooking, reading, observing nature, playing video/or board games, spending time with loved ones, watching movies, and catching up on sleep!