UWSA – University of Windsor Students' Alliance

Friday, February 7th to Thursday, February 13th

How Far We’ve Yet to Come (and How Far We’re Willing to Go): Remembering, Organizing, and Actualizing Black Liberation

The African Diaspora Festival (Afrofest) is a weeklong celebration that commemorates the history and work of the African diaspora and the contributions of Black people globally and locally. The year 2020 marks the 5th year—the halfway point—of the United Nations’ Declaration of International Decade for People of African Descent and February 2020 marks Afrofest’s 15th anniversary. With this in mind, it is my goal as Afrofest Coordinator to ensure that life for Black students, and the general student body, on this campus is as inclusive and affirming as possible. Being halfway through such a momentous decade, it is important to ask ourselves what kind of conversations need to happen on campus when it comes to anti-Black racism and the resistance of Black people locally and elsewhere.

Given the City of Windsor is of deep historical importance to Black history to Canada and Ontario, and this campus has a strong presence of Black students, it is my goal to solidify this in the minds of students, staff, faculty, and the broader community. As curator of this year’s Afrofest, the intended focus will be on the Black radical tradition and its many facets in Black life related to the post-secondary experience and beyond. Through various analytic points, such as academia, activism, scholarship, literature, creative industries, and community organizing, Afrofest puts forward innovative, ethical, and rigorous discussions of anti-Black racism and resistance in relation to mental health, politics, legal education and practice, immigration, social work, media, and arts. It does so with a critical look at Blackness along the intersections of gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, self-love, the body, and notions of belonging.

Afrofest 2020 Schedule

Download Schedule (for mobile/PC)


Special Guest Appearances From

Nana Yanful

Nana is a Toronto-based Black feminist lawyer and racial justice advocate. Nana received her J.D. from the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law in 2013. Before attending law school, Nana spent almost a decade working as a diversity and equity educator across southwestern Ontario and the GTA. Nana completed her articles at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice as a Judicial Law Clerk, and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 2014. Nana then practiced criminal defence and education law at Simcoe Chambers in Toronto. During that time, Nana presented to the Standing Senate Committee on Bills C-32 and C-36 on behalf of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, acted as Duty Counsel before the Law Society Tribunal’s Proceeding Management Conference hearings. Her writing on equity, policing and the trust-deficit has appeared in the anthology, Subdivided: City-Building in an Age of Hyper-Diversity, For The Defence, Spacing Magazine and elsewhere. Nana is deeply committed to community and legal work related to anti-Black racism, human rights, and anti-discrimination. For many years she has worked to build equitable and inclusive spaces in education, health care, and in community and non-profit organizations. Most recently, Nana worked as a Human Rights & Health Equity Specialist at Sinai Health System and as a Knowledge Translation Specialist for the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. Nana is a board member of Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre and is also a Staff Lawyer at the Black Legal Action Centre, providing legal services to low and no income Black Ontarians facing anti-Black racism.

Jeremiah Bowers

Jeremiah Bowers is the President of the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (“UWSA”). He is in his 4th year of studying International Relations & Development at the University of Windsor. In 2017, Jeremiah, at age 18, became the youngest President, as well as the fifth Black President of the UWSA in its 90-year history. Jeremiah was continuously re-elected by the UWindsor student body and is now serving his third term as President of the student union at the University, making him the longest-serving President in the University’s history. Jeremiah has a passion for Black equity, advocacy, and community building. He likes to “keep it real” with himself and with others, by challenging them to be the best version of themselves. His mission is to empower, equip, and inspire young people in his own community and across Canada, with a particular focus on building Black youth to achieve their fullest potential. In June 2019, Jeremiah led the charge, alongside several Black student leaders across the country, to historically create the first National Black Students’ Caucus, an arm of the Canadian Federation of Students, which is the largest national student association representing over 500,000 students nationwide. In November 2019, Jeremiah was elected as the first National Black Students’ Caucus Chairperson. In this capacity, Jeremiah has the responsibility and blessing of empowering Black student leaders with the tools and resources to strengthen and support the Black student communities on campuses across the nation. Jeremiah’s motivation for what he does stems from an intrinsic desire to see youth succeed. His plan is to attend law school, then dive into international politics.

Josh Lamers

Josh Lamers is this year’s Afrofest Coordinator for the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance. Josh is a first-year law student, with his Master and Bachelor of Social Work from Ryerson University. In the capacity of social worker, activist, community organizer, and scholar Josh focuses on the intersections of Blackness, Disability and madness, child welfare survivorship/abolition, and Queer/Trans* identity. Josh is one of the co-founders of the Black Liberation Collective-Ryerson, a collective of Black students attached to a larger movement of Black liberation work within post-secondary institutions, where the work is challenging anti-Black racism in its many forms and to curate safer spaces for Black students, staff, and faculty. Alongside the other organizers within BLC-Ryerson, Josh’s activist work brought about several systemic and tangible changes for Black students on Ryerson’s campus such as 8 renewable scholarships for Black students, an anti-Black racism climate review, a Black student space, and funding for Black student initiatives. His organizing also addressed over-policing on campus, ending Ryerson University’s attempted Toronto Police Services partnership. In November 2018, in response to the dubbed Doug Ford anti-Activist Gag Order Directive (a.k.a Freedom of Speech Directive), Josh lead students in effectively organizing resulting in Ryerson University being the only campus to not openly distance itself from the directive. As a child welfare survivor, much of Josh’s scholarly work and systemic organizing focuses on abolishing the system currently in place. His research titled From Topic and Evidence to Architect: The Development of Black Diasporic Interpretive Phenomenology and the Resistive Strategies of Black Child Welfare Survivors, received the Graduate Writers Award. He is also co-founder of the Collective of Child Welfare Survivors, a group that focuses on reimagining how to address families and child welfare. This included the December 2018 12 minutes shutdown of Queen and Bay street in Toronto in response to Doug Ford shutting down the Office of the Ontario Child Advocate. The 12 minutes were to commemorate the 12 youth who died while placed in child welfare that year. Josh has worked at several organizations, such as the Office of the Ontario Child Advocate, Resource Movement, Cross Over Youth, the Voyager Project, and Planned Parenthood. As Josh shifts into the field of law, his goal is to truly disrupt the understanding of what the law is and can do for Black life and other marginalized communities from a rigorous and sustained stance within the Black radical tradition, Black feminisms, and decolonial paradigms.

Chrys Saget-Richards

Chrys is a 2L student at the McGill University Faculty of Law. Prior to their legal studies, they completed a Bachelor’s in Social Work with Honours at Ryerson University, while heavily involved in equity work, education work and activism around issues of anti-Black racism, decolonization and anti-colonialism, Queer and Trans liberation struggles, mental health, disability and education. In their final year of Social Work studies, they co-founded the Black Liberation Collective-Ryerson Chapter, an international organization dedicated to challenging anti-Black racism in post-secondary institutions. Through direct action and negotiations with the university, they were able to create 8 full-ride scholarships for Black students, Ryerson’s first Black student space and many other wins dedicated to the sustainable development of the Chapter. As a placement student at the City of Toronto, at the Policy Analysis and Research Directorate, they contributed to the development of two different equity strategies at the City: the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism and the second Toronto Youth Equity Strategy targeted at addressing discrimination against racialized Queer and Trans youth in Toronto. Alongside their studies, Chrys has held multiple positions as a coordinator at the Ryerson Student Union Equity Service centres. They were heavily involved in student politics locally and provincially, served as anti-harassment advisor, consultant and anti-oppressive practice trainer as well as a workshop developer and facilitator for many organizations across the city. Chrys currently struggles with finding their path in the formal legal world but has recently found a particular interest in Reproductive Justice frameworks as a lens through which to possibly connect justice and the law. They also have an interest in reconciliation processes, conflict resolution, alternative dispute resolution models, criminal law, community based legal work, property law and access to justice. They have also become interested in how the use of international Human Rights law may contribute to or inform changes in Canadian law as a way to challenge discrimination in Canada. Chrys sits comfortably within the margins of the margins which sometimes offers a perhaps difficult but honest perspective in working to center the voices of their communities. They believe that Community-based and lead movements can, and do, serve as a path toward transformative justice whether or not we give them a chance. Ultimately, their work committed to Black liberation is rooted in ensuring meaningful collective participation and a fundamental belief that revolution must be rooted in love.

Trina James

Trina James is the Treasurer for the Canadian Federations of Students. She has recently completed a double major in Political Science and Women & Gender Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. Her experience within the student movement began in 2015 when she served her first of two terms as the Vice President of Campus Life for Local 99, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union and one term as CFS-Ontario Treasurer. It was through her work that she learned the importance of creating events through an anti-oppressive framework that were accessible, entertaining and empowered our members. In addition to her role at the Ontario component, Trina is the former Chair for the Queer and Trans Constituency for the Canadian Federation of Students. She was also one of the organizers for the first black graduation celebration at UofT. Throughout her work, Trina strives to fight for a post-secondary education system that is accessible to all students. When not at work, Trina spends her time doing cannabis education work with marginalized youth and perfecting the art of Inclusive Stand-Up Comedy.

Leila Moumouni-Tchouassi

Leila Moumouni-Tchouassi is a queer franco West African with ties in Niger to the Zarma and Cameroon to the Bamiléké and is currently living, working and learning in Ottawa on the unceeded and unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin people. When she isn’t fighting burnout from living in an inherently racist colonial state, Leila loves building with and for herself and her community while basking in its beauty, diversity, and genius. She hopes to see the world one day recognize that WE are the prototype and if that day never comes she believes in burning it all down.

Shanese Steele

Shanese Steele is a 27 year old, fat, queer, Mukaade Anishinaabe Kwe (Afro-Indigenous person) with ties to the Nbissing, Metis communities and Trinidad and Carriacou, Grenada and a member of the Crane Clan. She is now living on the traditional unceeded territory of the Omàmiwini (Algonquin), but grew up on Edoopikang, which is the Anishinaabemowin word for North York. Over the last 10 years Shanese has been focusing her work on bridging the gap between the Black diasporic Indigenous community and Indigenous communities belonging to Turtle Island.

Assistant Professor Camisha Sibblis

Camisha Sibblis is an Assistant Professor at the University of Windsor in the School of Social Work. She is also the faculty advisor for Making It Awkward (MIA) – a student lead social advocacy group at the University of Windsor challenging anti-black racism in the Windsor community. She has taught at Sheridan College in programs: Child and Youth Work and Social Service Work. Her doctoral research uses spatial theory and discourse analysis to focus on the anti-Black racism, the politics of race, social identity, and marginalized youth in school expulsion programs and other spaces of exclusion. She holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Toronto and pursued her BSW, MSW, and PhD degrees at York University. Camisha has extensive experience working with ‘at risk’ youth as a school social worker in the Peel District School Board expulsion program and as a clinician/researcher assessing the effect of anti-Black racism on the lives of the accused/convicted for courts to consider upon sentencing. She counseled wards of the Children’s Aid Society as a mental health practitioner in private practice; and she is a clinical agent for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

Dr. Andrew Allen

Dr. Andrew Allen is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor. He teaches Introduction to Issues in Education and Mathematics Methodology in the pre-service program and Research Methods in the Masters and PhD program. He is currently the coordinator of the Urban Education Partnership teacher education. His international development work includes rebuilding and supporting a centre for orphaned children and school in the Singida Region of Tanzania in East Africa. He is a former elementary classroom teacher in the Toronto District School Board. He is also a graduate in Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University. He received his Bachelor of Education and Master of Education degrees from York University and his PhD in education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.

Dr. Laverne Jacobs

Dr. Laverne Jacobs is the Associate Dean (Research & Graduate Studies) at the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Law. Her research explores the intersections between the lived experiences of people with disabilities, administrative law and justice, and human rights law. Through her scholarship, she seeks to foster an inclusive society through legal and social change. Laverne is the founding director of the Law, Disability & Social Change (LDSC) Project (https://lawdisabilitysocialchange.com/about/ ) which is housed at Windsor Law. The LDSC Project team conducts research into current legal and policy issues to help empower people with disabilities to fully achieve their rights and, more generally, to foster and develop inclusive communities. The project focuses on listening to, incorporating and respecting the voices of people with disabilities and aims to further the motto “nothing about us without us”. The LDSC Project team undertakes a variety of projects that feed grounded research and theory into policy development and legal decision-making. Current projects include research on accessibility legislation, consent and capacity, transportation inequality, legal aid and general disability discrimination.

Camesha Cox

Camesha Cox is a dynamic change maker and community trailblazer with over 15 years of experience in community building and program development. She is an Ontario certified teacher, committed to using her education as a tool to uplift her community. She is a passionate champion of literacy and the Founding Director of The Reading Partnership (TRP) – a community-based literacy project aimed at promoting and improving literacy in Toronto’s most under-resourced communities.Camesha has been recognized for her work as a recipient of the Province of Ontario’s ‘Leading Women Building Communities Award, as well as the TorontoFoundation’s Vital People Award. Camesha has participated in a wide range of local and international initiatives, including EPIC xChange, Emerging Leaders Dialogue and the Canadian and African Business Women’s Alliance. She has served as a board member for the East Scarborough Storefront and East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club; and has been a member of United Way of Greater Toronto’s Speakers Bureau since 2012 and spends time in this role sharing the importance of investing in resident-led and community-based initiatives to high-level donors across the city of Toronto. Camesha holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Education degrees from the University of Windsor; a Master of Education from OISE, University of Toronto; a Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation from the University of Waterloo; and a certificate in Executive Nonprofit Leadership from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Camesha is committed to using her passion and expertise as a catalyst for change in her community, with a goal to make her city a better place to work, live and play for all.

Princess Doe

Princess Doe (she/her) is a co-chair of Making it Awkward: Challenging Anti-Black Racism, a student-led committee started in 2016 by black and racialized Social Work students, aimed at empowering black students and their allies in bringing attention to anti-black racism on campus and the larger Windsor-Essex Community. Princess is currently a first year student at Windsor Law, where she also volunteers with Pro Bono Students Canada, and is an executive for the Municipal Law and Planning Club. Prior to entering law school, she completed a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Windsor, before going on to work first in the co-operative housing sector, then as a front-line harm reduction worker in Downtown Toronto.

Zahra Binbrek

Zahra Binbrek (BA Hons, University of Guelph), (LLB University of Windsor) is a practising human rights lawyer. She joined the Human Rights Legal Support Centre in 2011 and represents Applicants before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Prior to law school she worked for four years at the Canadian Arab Federation, a national not-for-profit organization focused on advocacy and settlement services for newcomers to Canada. Currently, in her free time she enjoys painting, spinning clay on a wheel and roller-skating.

Jillian Rogin

Jillian Rogin (BA Hons, Trent University), (MES, York University), (LLB University of Windsor), LLM (Osgoode Hall, York University) is an Assistant (Clinic) Professor at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law. Prior to her appointment in 2017, she was duty counsel (criminal) and then worked as a Review Counsel at Community Legal Aid (CLA), a SLASS clinic in the Windsor-Essex region. She teaches criminal procedure and clinic law and her research interests include judicial interim release, evidentiary issues in sexual assault law, feminist/critical race/post-colonial theory, and legal ethics. She and her partner Andrew are the proud parents of a vivacious three-year old.

Assistant Professor Idil Abdillahi

Idil is an assistant professor at Ryerson University in the Faculty of Social Work

Yusra Khogali

Yusra Khogali is a 28-year-old daughter of a Sudanese diaspora from Regent Park, Toronto. She is a black feminist multi-disciplinary educator, writer, performance artist, activist, public intellectual, MC and grassroots community organizer. She co-founded the Black Lives Matter Toronto movement that has shifted the current political landscape of Canada by actively working to dismantle all forms of anti-Black racism. Yusra also co-founded the Black Liberation Collective Canada, a Black student movement through its founding chapter at the University of Toronto which works to create infrastructure for Black students around the globe to build power, using an intersectional lens, to eliminate anti-Blackness on campus. Yusra has also performed for 1000+ organizations, universities, colleges, high schools, festivals, and events across the province as a spoken word artist, and has MC’d numerous events across the city for crowds as large as 10,000 plus people. She is a published author and has recently been in conversation with the legendary Dr. Angela Davis. She currently completed her Master of Arts degree in social justice education at the University of Toronto OISE with a thesis research focus on Black diaspora, Black African, Anti-colonial, Trans*feminist Liberation thought.

Alex I. McKenzie

Alex I. McKenzie is a current Master’s in Sport Psychology student at the University of Windsor. Alex started his university career at Western University, where he completed his BA (Hons) in Psychology. Alex was born and raised in the Bahamas, spending part of his adolescence in Toronto’s Jane and Dundas neighbourhood. Community is an important aspect of his pedagogical endeavours. Alex, also a co-organizer of AfroFest, has conducted community psychology consulting with marginalized neighbourhoods in Etobicoke and London, focusing on topics such as Anti-Oppression, Gun Violence, and Understanding and Analyzing Racial Profiling & Discrimination. McKenzie currently works with young athletes in the Bahamas as a sport psychology consultant, with hopes of destigmatizing mental health throughout the small island nation. McKenzie is working towards attaining his Ph.D., and becoming an APA certified sport psychologist.

Jordan Afolabi

Jordan Afolabi (He/Him) Jordan is a Uwindsor student in his last year of Computer Science. Jordan previously completed a Liberal Arts Degree at the University and later returned to continue his education in 2017. Among Jordan’s plans for the future include his goal of attending law school and implementing A-J oriented software solutions for the legal field. Jordan is a Nigerian-Canadian dual citizen and he is fluent in both English and his native tongue Yoruba. Most recently Jordan has been involved in a rigorous year of self-advocacy on our very own campus. Jordan says that throughout this process he has “Had my eyes further opened to the concerning extent of which systemic racism still pervades the foundations of our educational institutions.” Jordan hopes that the entering of a fresh decade of 2020 will bring about a new era of growth, healing, and awareness between Canadian post-secondary institutions and the Canadian black student bodies. Fun Fact: Jordan can juggle.

Hysum Osman

Hysum Osman is a student of University of Windsor, studying political science and philosophy in his final year. Hysum Eritrean, Muslim, and President of Fusion, born in Toronto then moved to Milton.

Stephanie Joseph

Canadian by birth, Grenadian by parentage. Stephanie Joseph is the Founder & Producer of the Textur’d Hair & Beauty Show (formerly the Toronto Natural Hair & Beauty Show) – a curated annual event for those who love all things curly hair, fashion, and beauty. Since its inception in 2003, the show has expanded to a two-city event in Ontario, Toronto, and London, and serves as a platform for local hairstylist, fashion designers, and beauty brands to network with one other, promote their products. This event was Toronto’s first and is the largest hair & beauty show dedicated to those who love and appreciate naturally curly hair. The Show also offers a variety of panel discussions, informative seminars, and entertaining performances. Stephanie is passionate about educating black women, men, and children to love and appreciate their hair in its natural state, but is even more passionate about educating people from various cultural backgrounds about the beauty of natural hair, and to debunk the stereotypes associated with it. When Stephanie is not busy planning her events you can find her volunteering her time to her community, where she is a member of 3 organization: Pride in Heritage Children’s Centre, Friends of Flemingdon Park, & Flemingdon Community Support Services. In 2016 she received an award at the Canadian International Black Women Event (CIBWE), as one of the 100 black women to watch in Canada. With her children as her inspiration, she is an advocate for healthy eating habits, and joined Healthy Kids Community Champion Danforth-East York as a Peer Leader, and was recognized as a community champion in 2017. In 2018 her, along with 3 other community leaders received Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Community Service Award.

Ashley Yeboah

Ashley Yeboah has been sewing and creating for 10 years and has transformed a skill taught by her mother into a passion for functional fashion with a funky twist. She has done fashion shows at the University including Afrofest for the past three years, Sports Weekend 2019, and Diverse Expressions 2018, and 2019. Aside from fashion, she also owns a jewelry business with her life partner, called Blaq Rose Artistry. She currently is finishing her last year at the University of Windsor studying Family & Social Relations and is in track to become an Expressive Arts Therapist through her fashion, painting, writing, and community work.

Thaila-Paige Dixon

Thaila-Paige Dixon is a child welfare abolitionist, tattoo artist and an activist for Black liberation. Her work in activism began with the Ministry of Children and Youth, and the Office of the Ontario Child Advocate to address the multiple issues within child welfare and policy making. Thaila was one of the founding members of Our Voice Our Turn, a pivotal project in spearheading changes in child welfare. However, given the complexities and nuances of anti-Black racism and respectability politics, and the slowing of any substantive change coming from those organizations she then went on to continue her work elsewhere. Thaila became Director of Youth Engagement at Cross Over Youth, supporting criminalized child welfare survivors through one-on-one advocacy, peer mentorship, and community workshops that focused on antiBlack racism, multiple forms of oppression, and self love. Thaila’s expertise in child welfare is featured in many publications, and is also an award winner of the Amethyst Award. Thaila is one of the co-founders of the Collective of Child Welfare Survivors, a group focused on radically transforming work with what Canada calls “child welfare”. Being a tattoo artist for a decade now, Thaila married her Black activist and community organizing with the tattoo industry founding The Rose Underground in February 2019 with the event titled Black Canvas: Reclaiming the Ink. The Rose Underground highlights the work of Black tattoo artists and reclaims tattooing by creating space for Black artists & enthusiasts, as well as educating artists on how to better work with Black skin. One of ultimate goals is to have a sustainable and reoccuring Black tattoo convention in Canada. Thaila is also one of the co-organizers of the Ladies of Ink Tour Canada, an all-Black woman tattoo artist tour that began in 2015.

Sarah Jama

Sarah Jama is a community organizer from Hamilton, Ontario. She is the co-founder of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO), an organization committed to building the political and community power of people with disabilities. She is a current board member with the Hamilton Transit Riders Union, and has worked with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board to create curriculum around combating anti-black racism. She has given over one hundred lectures, presentations, and keynotes on issues surrounding leadership, diversity, justice, and currently works at the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion as the Senior Program Coordinator. In her current role, she is building leadership curriculum for youth around organizing inside and outside political structures, to be disseminated locally at different schools. Sarah can be reached at sarah@djno.ca.

Ryan Pearson

Ryan Pearson is the Director of Programs for Detroit Narrative Agency (DNA) She is a native Detroiter, innate creative, cinephile, and arts administrator by trade. She received her Bachelor of Theater of Arts from the University of Michigan, and later completed graduate studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Ryan has been involved in storytelling through media and theatre for over a decade, working in Film & TV production in various roles, producing live Theatre, and managing various arts programs for nonprofit organizations. Ryan’s goal is to contribute to immersing Detroit and the world in layered, complex, and nuanced stories centering people of the African Diaspora and other beautiful communities that have often been misrepresented, underrepresented, neglected, and/or overlooked. Outside of work, Ryan spends time learning, traveling, laughing, enjoying various art forms, being in community, reading, engaging in various healing practices for the mind, body, and spirit, and participating in activism related to body liberation, fat acceptance, and social issues affecting Black and Brown women, girls, and femmes.

Dr. Neema W. Jangu

Neema has worked with various community organizations. She currently serves as a Community Research Coordinator: weSpeak Project Windsor “Reducing HIV vulnerabilities and promoting resilience among self-identified heterosexual African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) Men in Ontario, at the University of Windsor. Her research focuses on HIV in relation to heterosexual ACB men. She investigates how structural and social drivers influence vulnerabilities and risks, and ways to address them. She is also passionate with community initiatives that promotes healthy living for immigrant seniors and youth. She received her PhD in sociology—Social Justice from the University of Windsor.

Cassandra Smith

Cassandra Smith is the Harm Reduction Coordinator at Black CAP, leading the Ministry of Health funded project. She facilitates workshops, trainings and presentations with an emphasis on connecting with African Caribbean and Black (ACB) communities coping with substance use/addictions, while addressing barriers associated with cultural stigma, lack of support and awareness of mental health and substance disorders. With over 10 years of experience working in the not-for-profit sector, Cassandra is involved in numerous partnerships throughout the GTA in order to expand and enhance harm reduction services. Through her work she hopes to inspire, build and motivate the ACB community’s capacity to support those facing challenges associated with mental health, substance use, child protection. SThe Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP) has worked to respond to the threat of HIV and AIDS in Toronto’s African, Caribbean and Black communities.

Tawana Petty

Tawana PettyTawana “Honeycomb” Petty is a mother, social justice organizer, author, poet and youth advocate. She is intricately involved in water rights advocacy and data and digital justice. Tawana is a data justice community researcher and Director of the Data Justice Program for Detroit Community Technology Project (DCTP). As a researcher for DCTP, she co-led a three city participatory research project called Our Data Bodies (ODB), which identified through interviews and focus groups, the ways that our communities’ digital information is collected, stored, and shared by government and corporations. Following the research, Tawana co-produced with ODB, the “Digital Defense Playbook,” a workbook of popular education activities focused on data, surveillance, and community safety. She also co-produced a report called, “A Critical Summary of Detroit’s Project Green Light and It’s Greater Context,” looking at the history of Detroit’s recent real-time crime surveillance program and its relationship to facial recognition. Tawana is a member of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition (DDJC), which organizes Data Discotechs (discovering technology) fairs in various neighborhoods throughout Detroit, to increase digital, data and media literacy. She is also co-founder of Riverwise Magazine, which recently produced a special surveillance issue, “Detroiters Want to be Seen, Not Watched,” on Project Green Light and Detroit’s use of facial recognition. Tawana is the author of several books, Introducing Honeycomb, Coming Out My Box, Petty Propolis Reader: My Personal and Political Evolution, and Towards Humanity: Shifting the Culture of Antiracism Organizing. She recently co-curated an exhibition called DEPTH with Science Gallery Detroit, on the ways that people and all living beings have, and will experience water in the future. The exhibition was seen by over 30,000 people in a three month period. Tawana is the organizer of the annual Petty Propolis Art Festival and Artist Retreat, in historic Idlewild, Michigan, which boasts hundreds of participants each year and convenes over 30 artists, organizers, herbalists and innovators to create art, share healing practices and re-spirit each other and the communities they serve. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Spirit of Detroit Award, the Woman of Substance Award, Women Creating Caring Communities Award, Detroit Awesome Award, University of Michigan Black Law Student Association’s Justice Honoree Award, was recognized as one of Who’s Who in Black Detroit in 2013 and 2015, Wayne State Center for Peace and Conflict Studies’ Peacemaker Award, and a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition in 2018.


Josh Lamers (he/him)
Afrofest Coordinator
519-253-3000 ext: 4527