Diversity Week - Black Professionals: Leaving an Imprint


Brown Student Services 3600 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0G3, CA

This semester CaPS is proud to be collaborating with McGill’s Social Equity and Diversity Office (SEDE) in creating events that honour and celebrate the Black Community.

As February is Black History month the SEDE office is offering a conference called “Black Histories, Black Futures” www.mcgill.ca/equity_diversity/black_histories that will highlight the diversity and complex realities of Montreal’s Black communities by convening community representatives, researchers, workers, and students from across the community and university sectors to share and build knowledge.”

As a prelude to this event CaPS will be presenting two panel discussions on career related issues.  These panels will give an opportunity for all students to hear the amazing stories of these accomplished professionals. Come and listen to the career paths, their successes and challenges along the way and their tips and advice to students on how to be successful in the world of career.

  • Successful Black Women: Standing Strong
    Feb 9th 5:00-6:30
    Brown Building CaPS office room 2200


    Mahalia Verna
    Mahalia Verna has been working in the film and television industry since 1997, starting out  as a publicist for Allegro Films, CINAR Corporation and Galafilm Productions. She then worked on various independent productions, namely as Associate Producer of  the Genie-Award nominated feature film "Saved by the Belles". As Development Officer for the National Film Board of Canada's French Program (2004- 2007), she was responsible for creating initiatives with regard to cultural diversity and she also helped to develop several documentaries, including award-winning "In the Name of the Mother and the Son" and "Has God Forsaken Africa?". As Program Development Manager for CBC Television (2007-2010), she was responsible for managing the regional development funding of television and multi-platform projects as well as implementing training programs and internship opportunities for emerging talent. She is presently working as Broadcasting Coordinator for ELAN (English Language Arts Network). She sits on the advisory committee for cultural diversity at the Conseil des arts de Montréal, and is a board member at the MAI (Montréal, Arts Interculturels). She was recently named Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the Social Justice Committee of Montreal (SJC).

    Zab Maboungou, choreographer
    Zab Maboungou is an artist and a philosopher who is a leader in the field of both dance creation and dance teaching. She is the founder of Zab Maboungou/Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata (1986). In honour of her accomplishments, she has received  “Great Homage” from the Minister of Culture of Cameroon for her “talent, creativity and all her efforts to develop and promote theatrical art” (1999) and the “AfriCan Conference” in Toronto named her a pioneer of African dance in Canada (2003). In the same year and thanks to an important arts development program from the Canadian government (Heritage Canada), she inaugurated a special program in the study and teaching of African dance in Quebec. Zab Maboungou is the first African choreographer and dancer to receive grants from the Canada Arts Council and le Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Québec.  Born in Paris to a French mother and a Congolese father, Zab Maboungou grew up in Brazzaville in post-independence Republic of Congo.  At a young age, she took her first steps in Central African rhythms and dance. Later on, while studying philosophy in France, she went on to study the dances, rhythms and musical forms of Mali, Ivory Coast, the Senegal-Gambia region, Guinea, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. She worked with different traditional dance and ballet ensembles in Europe and America (Fua Dia Kongo in San Francisco, Malaki Ma Kongo in New York and Ballet Lokolé in Paris) while she was conducting research alongside great drum masters (Babatunde Olatundgi - Nigeria) and dance masters (Lucky Zebila - Congo).   During this very active period, Ms Maboungou gained awareness of the extraordinary wealth of African traditions in this sphere, in particular the art of rhythm. Since then, she has never stopped exploring every aspect of the rhythmic art. Her first, solo works (Réverdanse in 1995, Incantation in 1997) revealed her exacting musical craft. This was soon recognised as a distinctive feature of her choreography. Critics took note of the power and refinement of the body movements and rhythms underlying her works.   Her artistic theory and practice express her comprehensive understanding of the art of dance, on stage and off. In Zab Maboungou’s choreography or “poetics”, texts become rhythm and dance converses and creates. Body language combines with trajectories in a space expanding and contracting, yet resonating from within. After these solo works, the group works (Mozongi in 1997, Lwáza in 2005, Montréal by Night in 2010) attest for her mastery of physical and musical structures and are further proof of her distinctive voice and outlook.  The choreographer is also a writer and lecturer. Her book, “Heya…Danse! Historique, poétique et didactique de la danse africaine” expresses her commitment to allying art and knowledge and vice-versa.   As a philosophy professor, Zab Maboungou also received an honour in this field for the quality of her work and her commitment, in January 2007, at Montmorency College in Laval, Quebec. It has been said of her dance art that is enriched by the strength of her thinking and vision in the philosophical and cultural spheres in which she has become a recognised authority.  With this international reputation in arts, research and teaching, her work as a performer, writer and lecturer has made a significant contribution to theory and debates about art and cultural diversity. Her expertise is sought in many places: universities and dance teaching centres, as well as various institutions, in Africa, Canada, the US, Europe and Asia.  As a member of MASA (Market for African Performing Arts) international artistic committee from 1995 to 2002, she conducted choreography internships for young, upcoming talent and choreography seminars for African and World dance agents and promoters. In July 2007, Zab Maboungou/Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata celebrated their 20th anniversary. These celebrations were commemorated, in October 2007, by a premiere presentation of Décompte, an original solo work, which toured worldwide (Africa, Canada, Europe, USA).  “The choreographer creates an architectural space for an unforgettable dance. It’s something from nothing at a high level”

    Martine St-Victor
    After a few years working in finance, Martine started Le Groupe Milagro: a public relations atelier specializing in the Arts & in Pop Culture.  She's often asked to comment on pop cultural and current events on television and radio.  She's a contributor to Souche Magazine in which she signs an op-ed on Pop Culture. She also writes for AskMen.com and American Airlines' Black Atlas travel blog, combining many of her favorite activities: writing, art, food and travel.  Since the earthquake in Haiti, she's been a liaison for many fundraising events.
  • Community Leaders: Giving Back
    Feb 10th 5:00-6:30
    Brown Building CaPS office room 2200


    Rosemary Thomas
    Board of Directors - COCo

    Rosemary has worked with community organizations in Canada and abroad for over 15 years. Much of her work has focused on supporting vulnerable populations, especially women and children through organizations such as the Women's Legal Aid Center and the Legal and Human Rights Centre in eastern Africa. On the COCo Board Rosemary helps advise on community research work and leadership development programs, she also draws on her experience as Executive Director of the Refuge Juan Moreno to help guide the evolution of COCo's structure. Rosemary is proud of her African roots and enjoys the richness of juggling between mothering, community work, and academic teaching and research.

  • Michael Farkas
    Community Activist
    Youth in Motion

    Rosie Segee
    Pre-Employment Project Coordinator
    Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre

    Born in Toronto, Ontario, Rosemary Segee went to work for the Bank of Montreal from 1975 to 1996, occupying supervisory and mid-management positions and completing a Canadian Bankers Association Personal Trust Program, during her final years. During the downsizing period of the big banks, Rosemary encouraged employees to take advantage of the training programs being offered by the Bank and organized study groups.  A graduate of Concordia's Community Economic Development Program, Rosemary co-founded the Little Burgundy Black Family Support Group, in a renewed effort to address the growing violence in the community. This grassroots initiative galvanized residents and supporters to work together and find their own solutions to their problems. The primary goal addressed the socio-economic, educational, health and justice issues affecting English speaking young Black adults aged 16-30 and their families. This initiative won her the nomination in the Black History Month Calendar of 2005 and again in 2011. She continues to advocate on several boards, such as the Coalition of Little Burgundy, the Sports Complex, Negcomburdy (a senior housing complex) and The N.C.C. and is the vice president of Kamouraska cooperative (a housing complex).

    Twelve Outstanding Canadians Receive Canada's Citizenship Award

    This prestigious award pays tribute to Canadians who have made an important contribution to our country by promoting the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship. It also honors Canadians who have played an outstanding role in helping newcomers to integrate into Canadian society.

    Whether it is finding housing for a family in need, helping with legal issues or directing newcomers to the necessary resources, Rosemary Segee has a deep commitment to improving the lives of those who live in her community.  She has developed several projects in the Montreal community of Little Burgundy. The Burgundy Urban Mediation and Prevention (BUMP) project assists community members with conflict resolution and works to improve community relations with the police. BUMP has served as a model for similar projects in four other communities. Ms. Segee also started the Tyndale Treasures Store which provides retail training for community members and assists low income families by selling affordable clothing and small appliances.  Many of Ms. Segee's efforts target youth. In response to violence in the black community, she set up a grass roots inner-city organization to help young black adults aged 16 to 30 address the socio-economic, educational, health and justice issues they face. In 2007, she set up a recording studio and implemented a music program for youth between the ages of 12 and 17. Two years later she co-developed a youth training program to ensure that those aged between 16 and 25 had access to opportunities. She also provides personal and career counseling for individuals and community groups.

    Lerona Lewis
    Doctoral Student - Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University.

    Lerona Lewis is a doctoral student in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education, at McGill University. Lerona grew up in the  Caribbean island of Grenada where she was actively involved in her community. Just before moving to Canada to attend McGill, Lerona volunteered on several committees, she was the first president of the Grenada- Chapter of the Caribbean Agri-Business Association. She was a volunteer with a local NGO designed to promote cultural and political consciousness among citizens. She also volunteered with a special program for adolescent mothers, in which she utilized dance to address issues of self-esteem and self-confidence.  Currently, at McGill Lerona serves as the president of the Association of Graduate Students employed at McGill and is a founding member of the Post Graduate Students Society (PGSS) Family Care Committee.


Registration required through myFuture. From your homepage, click on the Events tab followed by the Workshop tab and keyword DIVERSITY WEEK.