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Local Black community to reflect on 'making change' in Orillia

Members of Orillia’s Black community, spanning generations of hard work, welcome you to virtual panel event in celebration of Black History Month
black history month orillia panel
A panel featuring members of Orillia's Black community will be participating in a public, virtual panel event Saturday to mark Black History Month.

We Are Here! 

Members of Orillia's Black community will come together, virtually, Saturday to share lived experiences and reflect on Making Change in Orillia.

Panel guests and Orillia residents include: Alasoba (Lala) Kelsy-Braide (Board Member of Making Change), Tshweu Moleme (community volunteer, advocate, labour leader and activist), Dexter Bullen (university student, advocate), and Dr. Sam Olupona (gynecologist).

Musical performance by Jules, poetry reading, and videos submitted by members of Orillia's Black Community. Saturday, February 20, 2021 from 1- 2:30 p.m. on Zoom. 

"We Are Here!" What do you think when you hear these powerful words?

Such is the story and a reminder of the existence and longevity of Orillia’s Black history and community. 

Many were surprised to see a successful, historic Black Lives Matter rally take place in Orillia, last summer; an event that brought the community together, where frank discussions were had about racism within and outside of the community. There is a Black community in Orillia. 

Indeed, Orillia does not only have the OPP Headquarters, named after Canada’s first Black federal MP, the late Lincoln M. Alexander, a first in many areas. Orillia also has got its own thriving Black community that spans many centuries, as census data will indicate.

Among such people, we count greats such as Fayne Bullen, a former teacher, activist, and politician; Orillia’s first and only Black member of city council, a position taken at a time when it was very rare to see a Black member of council in the area, in a predominantly white community; a community that embraced him. 

Orillia has got veteran Black doctors, such as gynecologist, Dr. Sam Olupona, making big contributions to the area of medicine in our region.

Orillia has been home to Canada’s highest ranking Black police officer, Jay Hope, who received the Federal Order of Merit of the Police Forces from former Governor General Michaëlle Jean. 

Orillia is also home to respected community advocate, labour leader and activist, Tshweu Moleme, who was recently awarded a prestigious community development award by the University of Toronto. Moleme joins the Making Change event as organizer, host and panellist. 

Also calling Orillia home is community activist, Alasoba (Lala) Kelsey-Braide, whose exemplary work can be seen through Making Change, a ground-breaking area non-profit organization where she is also a board member.

Their focus is on sparking broad community interest and fostering conversations around inclusion and diversity.  They have a specific focus on raising awareness and educating and exposing people to the Black community, Black culture, and issues around anti-Black racism. Making Change is building community inclusion and togetherness through activities, allyship, participation and discussion. 

Orillia is also home to young leaders worth watching, such as Dexter Bullen, who’s social change and social justice seeking work has been lauded by many. 

This is just a short list highlighting some of Orillia’s Black community members, spanning generations of hard work. Indeed, we are here, and you can find us in almost every sector of our local economy, in any part of our city - from business owners, to frontline workers, pharmacists, teachers, community leaders, and more - We Are Here!  

Come join our virtual event and hear stories of hard work, hardship, love, hope, and strength. 

We Are here! 

Event Details:

  • Saturday, February 20, 2021
  • 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
  • Zoom

Register in advance for this meeting: 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


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