Meet Our Speakers

Keynotes

“Who We Are”

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Dr. Mohamed S. Camara, Ph.D

Dr. Mohamed S. Camara, Ph.D

Mohamed Saliou Camara, currently serving as the Chair of the Department of African Studies and a professor of History, Philosophy, and Mass Communication at Howard University, holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History from Northwestern University, both obtained through a Fulbright Scholarship. His academic focus includes African History, with double minors in Middle Eastern Studies and African American Studies, while his research spans Mass Communication and Political Science. Camara also holds a Diplôme d’Études Supérieures (DES) from the Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry (IPGANC, Guinea), with majors in History and Philosophy, and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Journalism from the University of Dakar (Senegal). Before his tenure in the U.S., Camara worked in various capacities in Guinea, including as a lecturer, journalist, speechwriter, and university press president. At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida, he held roles such as Director of the McNair Scholars Program, Vice Speaker, Speaker of the Faculty Senate, and Associate Vice President for Academics, earning recognition as Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2009. An accomplished author, his publications encompass topics ranging from African history and politics to mass communication. Camara is also the founding president of the African Renewal Foundation (ARF), dedicated to fostering leadership, governance, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Africa. He was honored with the 2023 Le Grand Prix de la Francophonie for his contributions to academia and African development.

“How We Live”

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Sophie Jama Malindi

Sophie Jama Malindi

Sophie Jama Malindi is a Women Empowerment Leader. She has broad experience in managing cause-driven programs for global humanitarian organizations. After a 14-year career in the United Nations, Sophie began pursuing her calling sharing her journey of being a young Ethiopian refugee, integrating her own story within a narrative of change.Sophie aims to heal inter-generational wounds by speaking the ‘unspeakable’ and breaking the narrative of silence.

Sophie Jama Malindi has broad experience in managing cause-driven programs for global humanitarian organizations. A motivating leader, she is passionate about creating a workplace culture where all team members have a voice while championing impactful advocacy initiatives in the areas of women and youth empowerment.

After spending the majority of her life feeling unseen and unheard, Sophie Jama Malindi set up a company, TruVoice, a dedicated platform to amplify voices of women and marginalized communities so that they are fully heard and seen as a fundamental human need. Sometimes, giving people who do not have a voice a platform is all it takes to bring the darkness into the light.

Sophie Jama Malindi has a passion for helping women and marginalized groups reconnect to their courageous voice within, break down disempowering narratives and show up powerfully in their professional and personal lives. Sophie worked in the United Nations for over a decade championing women and children across 190 countries in underserved communities and working to deliver critical resources, funding, and advocacy at global, national, and community levels. She spent eight years in Africa, getting to know what it takes for change to happen at the grassroots, organizational and systemic levels and using equity six for years in Europe.

Using equity-based and inclusive approaches at the global level, she has also consulted and coached top executives in DEI, working to build strategies for companies in Canada for a more sustainable, equitable working environment.

Sophie Jama Malindi has been invited to speak at global influential events on platforms such as World Biodiversity Forum in Davos. Her talks center around the need to provide people who do not have a voice a platform and to share the benefits of ‘Speaking the Unspeakable’ so that those who feel unseen and unheard can be part of and contribute meaningfully at all levels of society.

“Where We Are Going”

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Ivan Ngandjui Touko

Ivan Ngandjui Touko

Ivan Touko, originally from Cameroon, moved to Edmonton in 2012 to attend the University of Alberta's Campus Saint-Jean, the only francophone institution west of Winnipeg. Since then, he has deeply immersed himself in the local community by volunteering and co-founding numerous student groups and social initiatives in the Edmonton area. As a result of his dedication, Ivan has received numerous accolades, including the AC Awards 2022 Artist of the Year and the ACGC's Top 30 under 30 award.

In addition to his community work, Ivan is a successful entrepreneur. He is a Founder and CEO of La Connexional, a social enterprise that aims to showcase African, Caribbean and Latin cultures while increasing the sense of solidarity and connectedness between all diversities and communities in Edmonton, Alberta and Canada. Through La Connexional as an incubator, Ivan also Co-Founded Black Owned Market Edmonton (BOM YEG), and is the curator of Canada's Largest Afro x Latin Indoor Beach Tropical Staycation inside of West Edmonton Mall infamous World Waterpark.

Ivan's passion for wellness and movement is reflected in his work as a dance instructor and the founder of Groove With Ivan. Ivan has taught at many schools and creates safe spaces where everyone, no matter their age or background, can move their body, mind and soul without fear of judgement.

Through his multiple endeavors and community work, Ivan estimates that he has donated over 10,000+ hours and contributed to reinvesting over $80,000 in untapped communities. Today, Ivan has built a multi-faceted career with a wide range of experiences and skills in both the non-profit and corporate sectors.

Panel and Session Speakers

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Eric Baffour Awuah

Eric Baffour Awuah

Eric Awuah is the president & CEO of Apam Cultural Consult, researcher, facilitator, farmer, and a PhD Candidate of Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the University of Alberta. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and Theater studies from the University of Ghana, and an M.A in Dance Knowledge, Practice, and Heritage from the Erasmus-Mundus Choreomundus International dance masters program. Eric has extensive experience in research areas such as Dance as Intangible Cultural Heritage, dance and identity politics, dance within museum and gallery spaces, Dance Anthropology, performance of heritage, and Ethnography. He has taught master classes and workshops in various countries including Ghana, Romania, Hungary, Norway, Burkina-Faso, and London. He has also been invited as a guest lecturer/presenter on various academic and community occasions, demonstrating his ability to effectively communicate and share knowledge. As a professional performer and installation artist for close to 2 decades, Eric has been involved in over 50 major academic and professional performances/installations, showcasing his talent and creativity. Eric has been the Artistic Director of his own independent artistic projects since 2008, demonstrating his leadership and entrepreneurial skills. He has also worked as a choreographer, facilitator, teacher, and storyteller, showcasing his versatility and expertise in various cultural roles. He has served as an ERASMUS+ Guest Scholar to the Danish National School of Performing Arts, highlighting his international recognition and collaborations.

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Yawa Idi

Yawa Idi

Yawa Idi currently works at the Africa Centre, serving as the Mental Health and Enhancing Gender Equity programs coordinator where she oversees day to day operations of the counselling clinic while also facilitating activities to reduce intimate partner violence in the African, Black and Caribbean communities. Her background and expertise in mental health and gender equity began when she was an undergrad student at the University of Alberta, where she had the experience of working as a research assistant. She is also in the final stages of completing her Masters in Counselling Psychology and aims to become a registered psychologist in Alberta while continuing community based research. Outside of work she writes and performs poetry, serves at her church as the lead of the photography team and enjoys teaching herself new languages which has allowed her to become intermediate in French and conversational in Japanese.

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Owumi Irabor

Owumi Irabor

As a Branch Manager with Servus Credit Union, With more than 10 years experience in the financial industry, my greatest desire is to help people achieve their financial dreams, make sure they are satisfied with the advice and services we offer, my members’ happiness bring a great satisfaction to me.

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Dunia Nur

Dunia Nur

Dunia Nur is a woman of African-descent and holds a dual degree in Social Work and Child & Youth Care, as well as an executive education certificate in business and leadership. She is the co-founder and president of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council (ACCEC). Dunia has ten years’ experience in social work, management, supervision, and creating rehabilitation programs. Her expertise is in the areas of anti-oppression practices, African Indigenous knowledge systems, community development, Afro-feminism, intersectionality discourse analysis and the analysis of racial and cultural impact on Afro-Indigenous individuals. She is also acquainted with developmental trauma and mental health among refugee populations, and is known for her anti-racism framework, specializing in Islamophobia and gender based violence.

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Lillah Penddah

Lillah Penddah

Lillah Penddah is a founder, TEDx speaker, and a podcast host. She advocates for the minority experience by helping people get comfortable with having the uncomfortable conversations needed to bring about meaningful change and allyship.  Her company AFRO FACTS creates educational tools played as games to help people increase their awareness with respect to Black History and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEIB).
Her podcast "The Conversation is the Relationship" sheds light on the minority experience and creates the safe space needed to acknowledge missteps, hear different perspectives, and learn through the lens of the minority experience.

As a speaker in the DEIB space, her intention is to change the world in the ways she knows how by utilizing the power of education, communication and collaboration.

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Kaydeen Wright

Kaydeen Wright

Kaydeen Wright is a seasoned educator with teaching experience in both Jamaica and Japan. She hails from the vibrant city of Montego Bay in Jamaica. Kaydeen also holds a graduate degree in Educational Policy Studies, specializing in Social Justice and International Studies from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Kaydeen is currently working in the field of Healthcare Technology.

Kaydeen’s focus is on 'the key’ to the liberation of Black female image, which can be seen in her poetry collection ‘Black Girl-ing.

Also, Kaydeen has been honing her craft as a poet and writer since the age of 14 years of old. She passionately understands the transformative power that poetry holds, and how it can elevate the mundane to the sublime.

Kaydeen recognizes poetry as a vehicle for expression, escapism, and establishing a sense of order in her life. She thrives on the adventurous spirit of exploration and traversing the less-traveled paths in life.