Smj summer issue 2017 v6

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8 17 .1 0 No 2 ue ER



The HISTORY Behind

Rosemary Sadlier


Being Culturally Appropriate


SUMMER 2017 $4.99 CANADA


Exclusive: AMATO COUTURE: Canadian Premiere in Toronto

FEATURE: The CARIBBEAN Tales International Film Festival • • • •

CEO Frances-Anne Solomon Director Sharon Lewis Director Shakirah Bourne Review of A Caribbean Dream




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12 7. 11. 28. 32.

From The Desk of Shelley ... By Shelley Jarrett Steps to Success ... By Shelley Jarrett The History Behind Rosemary Sadlier ... By Shelley Jarrett Akwasi (Makamo) Afriyie: Writing His Way to Destiny ... By Andew Terry Pasieka 33. The 3rd Annual CIBWE: An Alumni’s Impression 11 ... By Andrew Terry Pasieka

SMJ BEAUTY CLOSET 8. Get Licensed Get Legal ...By Barbara Onwumere & Georgian Johnson 9. DivaGirl Fashion Friday ... By Shelley Jarrett 12. Being Culturally Appropriate ... By Andrew Terry Pasieka EXCULSIVE : Caribbean Tales International Film Festival 16. Frances-Anne Solomon: All Purpose Leader ... By Andrew Terry Pasieka 17. Shakirah Bourne: Working on a Dream ... By Andrew Terry Pasieka 18. Sharon Lewis and Brown Girl Begins ... By Andrew Terry Pasieka 25 19. Review of “A Caribbean Dream” ... By Kareem Gordon


21. Your Health Is Your Wealth ... by Dr. Lisa Ramsackal 30. Affairs of the Heart: Why A Matchmaker (Part 2) ... by Akua Hinds

BUSINESS 22. The Business of David Wojcik ... By Andrew Terry Pasieka 24. E-Commerce ... By Victoria A. Morgan 25. DIversity Advancement Network ... By Shelley Jarrett


FEATURE: AMATO COUTURE CANADIAN PREMIERE IN TORONTO 14. Amato Couture Photo Gallery 15. Amato Couture: Canadian Premiere in Toronto ... By Andrew Terry Pasieka

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Image. Lifestyle. Business

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17 20 Founder & Publisher Shelley Jarrett Editor-in-Chief Andrew Terry Pasieka Creative Director & Graphic Layout Sheri L. Lake


The HISTORY Behind

Rosemary Sadlier


Being Culturally Appropriate


SUMMER 2017 $4.99 CANADA

Exclusive: AMATO COUTURE: Canadian Premiere in Toronto

FEATURE: The CARIBBEAN Tales International Film Festival • • • •

CEO Frances-Anne Solomon Director Sharon Lewis Director Shakirah Bourne Review of A Caribbean Dream


Chief Photographer Lubin Tasevski Fashion/Design Editor Claris Minas Manglicmot Contributors Shelley Jarrett, Andrew Terry Pasieka, Barbara Onwumere, Georgian Johnson , Dr. Lisa Ramsackal, Akua Hinds, Victoria A. Morgan, Kareem Gordon, Anthony Berot (photos), Phyllicia Brouet (photos), Snap Burlington (photos), Olga Hutsul Photography, Rosemary Sadlier (photos), @ captured by shani (photos). Publicity LIM Media Group Inc. Website Contact

DISCLAIMER: We reserve the right to edit all content for space and clarity. All submissions when edited become the property of Seventh House Publishing Arts. No part of this magazine may be produced in any form without the expressed written consent of the publisher. We make a conscious effort to ensure complete accuracy of all content; however we accept no liability for any inaccurate information. SMJ Magazine is published with limited print editions four (4) times a year. To advertise in our publication, be featured or for more information, please contact us at or visit For editorials contact

SMJ Magazine is a division of Seventh House Publishing Arts. Summer 2017 Issue No. 18




Sheri L. Lake (647) 272-3624


416-839-2792 w SUMMER 2017


Welcome to summer everyone. Hopefully we will have a warm one so we can enjoy the sun with our families and all the fun activities the season brings, like barbecues, picnics, and deck and pool parties. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Canada’s 150th birthday since our last regular issue. We want to do some special things with our SMJ brand, both with the magazine and with stories emanating from the magazine, and we are privileged that we live in a country where we are allowed to do just that. Just before Canada’s 150th was our fourth year anniversary. We are in our fifth calendar year of operation, and as I have heard the Editor-inChief say many times, only around 15% of print publications in the 21st century make it through their third year. So we are in very select company. Congratulations to everyone on the team. As you will see, this issue is front and center on fashion & design and arts & entertainment. Our feature is about the 12th annual Caribbean Tales International Film Festival, whose media launch just took place, and whose screenings will occur in September. Our exclusive is on internationally renowned fashion designer Furne One, who will be coming from his headquarters in Dubai to Canada for the first time, and will headline the show Amato Couture in downtown Toronto on October 7th. More stories on both topics will be in our Fall Issue. On a personal note, for the second time since SMJ began I have had five articles published in one issue. Even though I am proud of all the pieces I write, I am pleased with all the insights I gained and quality of responses I received from Rosemary Sadlier in our lead story under Image. (My editor tells me it’s one of the best stories I have written!!) I will close by saying thank you to our continued followers, readers, contributors, advertisers’ supporters. Thank you for your loyalty and belief in us as we continue to bring you stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. “Your greatest legacy is every life you’ve touched.” (Maya Angelou)

w SUMMER 2017




GET LICENSED GET LEGAL By Barbara Onwumere and Georgian Johnson

Do you have a natural talent in the creative arts of hairstyling but don’t have a license to operate as a licensed hairstylist? Smart Choice Hairstyling Centre (SCHC) is a professional training center. SCHC can help you become a professionally licensed hairstylist to learn new skills in hairstyling and esthetics while substantially increasing your income in the process. Join us and grow your career in one of the fastest growing industries in North America. All in all – it’s a smart place to be.

help you through the entire process. Over the years we have helped hundreds of hairstylists get their license and are now licensed stylists pursuing their dreams and passion. To fully understand our student’s experience, we asked a former student who is now a fully licensed professional hairstylist to tell us about her experience with SCHC: “I am a single parent; funds are tight and transportation is limited. After considerable procrastination I began the process of becoming a Licensed Hairstylist. During my training, l learned the necessary procedures and terminology required to pass the licensing exam. When I was exam ready, l booked, wrote and passed my exam. Success! I am now a Licensed Hairstylist. My journey is not over, in fact, it is just beginning. SCHC’s flexible hours, one-on-one training and meticulous programs are motivating principles that make this prep center number one. Thanks Smart Choice for my success which has given me the confidence to fulfill all my dreams.” If you’re thinking about becoming a licensed stylist and you’re up for the challenge in taking your career to the next level, contact us today.

SCHC has grown in many ways and now offers two timeframes where you can attend classes to fit your dynamic learning into your busy lifestyle. You can attend Monday to Friday, at either of the following: 9:00am to 12:00pm; or 12:00pm to 3:00pm. Our flexible hours will allow you to succeed in receiving industry standard training and instructor led classes, but most of all, hands on training and a memorable experience. All hairstylists are required by law to have a license to operate. If you do not have a hairstylist license, SCHC can



(Ed. Note: Barbara Onwumere has been our longest serving contributor to SMJ Magazine, and since her move to larger space on the second floor in her current location, her hairstyling classes have expanded substantially. In this Summer Issue, she wanted interested readers to think about their own back-to-school aspirations for September.) Contact Barbara Onwumere, Owner/Licensed Hairstylist/ Instructor or Georgian Johnson, Licensed Hairstylist at 416788-0823 or



shop for local brands, as well collections are showcased to media and the public for purchase.

It was my first invitation to a DivaGirl Fashion Friday Summer Runway showcase. I arrived at a posh Forest Hill space called Elle Made Well Boutique, ( and was warmly greeted and ushered to the front row of chairs where two seats were waiting designated for SMJ Magazine. Wine was served soon after I settled in. The event was well attended; everyone seemed to be having a great time. With the opportunity to network and chat to vendors about their unique products, I anticipated the night would be special. DivaGirl is a female-based growing community of women and is one of the largest lifestyle female organizations in Toronto. It was started by Laura Furtado in August 2009 to encourage women to “unleash the sexy female within,” and includes entrepreneurs, moms, students, ambitious hustlers and wellness enthusiasts. I wanted to find out more about this chic, unique organization, and sat down with Caryn Parchment who is a member to learn a little more. I found out that DivaGirl has had re-launches. Caryn joined in November 2015 when DivaGirl had their 6th lifestyle pillar launch. She said DivaGirl has re-defined what it means to be a diva, and has reached explosive growth over the last few years in Toronto, and most recently in Philadelphia and Montreal. DivaGirl Fashion Toronto provides educational dinners and brunches throughout the year, as well as a unique seasonal (four times per year) networking event called Fashion Friday. This provides an opportunity for fashion experts in Toronto to share their knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and for fashionistas to build friendships and connections for possible future collaborations. The Fashion Friday events serve as a unique interaction for the fashion community, to

The inspiration behind Fashion Friday came out from Caryn’s story. While a teenager, she had high hopes of becoming a fashion designer in Toronto, but was discouraged by the cost it would take to create a collection. She wanted to challenge the status quo of the Toronto Fashion Scene and give fashion designers a platform to showcase their collection in front of the media, which wouldn’t cost them a lot of money. They could have fun with an more informal agenda, but still focus on the art of fashion. There are actually two ways women get involved in the program via two different types of memberships. There is a Lifestyle Membership for women who are looking for a great interaction tool with women throughout the GTA, and attend signature calendar of events for no additional cost. For women that own a business, they also have the option of the Business Affiliate Membership; where they would receive discounts on vendor tables at DivaGirl events, opportunities to promote their brand, or to be a speaker at an event, and so much more. To find more information about DivaGirl, women can follow: @DivaGirlFashionTO on IG, @DivaGirlFashion on Twitter, and @DivaGirlToronto on Facebook. They can visit for details on events and memberships, or send an email to fashion@divagirl-inc. com to discuss more about getting involved. 9


Steps to Success: A Three Day Event for Women By Shelley Jarrett

Returning to the Workforce

AIS Solutions partnered with the Compassion Society of Halton and Intuit Canada (as part of its We Care and Give Back program), to create the Steps to Success Charity Event. This event provided local disadvantaged women with a unique experience to help them put their best foot forward when stepping into an interview or entering the workforce for the first time.

less fortunate increase their level of confidence. I know from the experience of holding my own ‘Dress for Success’ workshops with my very first company, SJ Image Creations, that it’s rewarding to see the changed lives as women realize that they are more than able to support themselves and their family.

I attended the event one of the three days and had the opportunity to speak to the Juliet Aurora, CEO of AIS Solutions, When I asked her why these annual charities were important to her, she replied, “ My parents supported me growing up and I’ve always felt that I have been very lucky to have been afforded so many opportunities in my life. However, not every woman has been so fortunate. Some of them do not have a lot; hence the reason for this year’s event. Steps to Success holds great meaning for me, as I recall being a young woman and the challenges of entering the workforce. I believe that this event is a great way to touch the lives of many women who only need a hand up to reach their own personal goals and help them achieve success in their own lives.” What was done the day I attended was to prepare women for interviews. They were provided with professional outfit, hair and makeup, shoes and accessories; all donated by professional women in the community. This helps women

Juliet has been so pleased with the results this year that the plan is to do this again next year. AIS Solutions is an award winning bookkeeping firm for small business and is based in Burlington Ontario. They can be found on all social media platforms including LinkedIn.




SMJ Magazine emblazons these three words in every issue: Image-Lifestyle-Business. If you examine our mission statement, you would find another word that isn’t as well known but is just as important as the other three. Diverse. This word describes our Canadian society more than ever, and is embraced here at SMJ, where four of the five races are represented on staff. Elsewhere in this issue, there is an article on the 3rd annual Canadian International Black Women Event where our Publisher headed up a panel discussion on inter-racial relationships, specifically black women and white men. According to a major American research center, inter-racial marriages in the past 50 years have gone from 3% of overall unions to 17%.

Being Culturally Appropriate

By Andrew Terry Pasieka

That is the more inclusive side of the diversity issue. The other, divisive side has reared its ugly head recently in three ways; in the House of Commons, on the streets of Toronto, and on the printed page. On March 23rd, Motion M-103, originated by Erin Mills MP Iqra Khalid, easily passed in Parliament by a vote of 201 to 91. It condemned Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination, called for a quelling in the increasing public climate of hate and fear, and asked the heritage committee to study the issue and to report back to the House of Commons. Even though this motion was a free vote, meaning each MP could vote according to

their conscience and not need tow the party line, one wondered how ‘representative’ this vote was of the average Canadian constituent. MP Khalid received considerable hate mail over her motion, so much so that she had staff security protection, and a public poll taken at the time of the vote resulted in only 29% who would support the motion, 42 % against, and 29% no opinion. If this wasn’t enough the public outcry over the $10.5 million federal payout to convicted American marine killer Omar Khadr evoked widespread negativity. This despite the fact that Khadr was only 15 when he lobbed the fatal grenade, he had been brainwashed into terrorism by a cruel father while a compliant mother stood by, and a Canadian citizen was tortured for several months in an American prison at Guantanamo Bay while Canadian authorities did nothing. This past June, the GTA concluded another month long LGBTQ celebration called Pride with its ‘grand finale’ parade. For the second year in a row it was disrupted by the activist group Black Lives Matter. Last year’s disruption was more like a high jacking, as the group refused to budge



until they had a manifesto of sorts signed off by Pride executive. But they got their way. There was more funding put aside for black youth and artists in general. And there were no uniformed Toronto police at the parade this year. The group claimed this made the event more inclusive. (There’s that word again.) What they were really saying goes something like this: ‘Yes, it’s great that we can celebrate our alternate lifestyle out in the open, but you have to remember that some of us are black. Racism still exists away from the parade between a queer police officer and a queer black civilian.’ The final divisive issue took place in print, where one of the most hallowed freedoms, the freedom speech, exists. It started when Editor Hal Niedzviecki of Write Magazine, the publication of the Writers’ Union of Canada, said the following in an issue devoted to indigenous writers. “I don’t believe in cultural appropriation… (writers)…should be encouraged to imagine other people’s cultures, other identities…(write)…about what you don’t know…explore the lives of people who aren’t like you.”


The reaction was swift and merciless. Words and phrases like “disgusted,” “clueless and thoughtless,” “angry and appalled,” and “especially insulting,” were used. Even Writers’ Union Executive Director John Degen, after accepting Niedzviecki’s hasty resignation, admitted that “this is a frustrating and sad setback (in addressing) diversity and equity head on,” apparently all in the name of “fair cultural diversity.” (Try explaining that term.) In a later interview, Niedzviecki tried to inject to calm and reason when he said, “How can we encourage writers of all backgrounds to explore points of view other than their own? That’s all I meant.” But the burning tires were already rolling down the hill. It is open to question whether the editors and journalists who decided to react by saying there should actually be a cultural appropriation prize and donated money to the cause were extending a cruel joke or ‘protecting their privilege,’ as one unapologetic writer put it. But it wasn’t funny when Walrus Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Kay had to step down for saying that there was an argument to be made to defend the right to debate cultural appropriation, or when CBC The National editor Steve Ladurantaye was re-assigned after saying he would contribute $100 to a cultural appropriation prize. What is cultural appropriation? It is laying claim on something that isn’t yours, but which you presume you could speak on. All Canadians can’t speak for a Muslim Canadian citizen, because at one time they were all what the Muslim was: an immigrant. There was only one color of race when ‘the New World’ was discovered. All Canadians can’t speak for the Black Canadian and their continuous struggle against racism, no matter what the lifestyle. This is all a very ‘long and winding’ introduction to one editor’s view. It goes back to the start of this story and the diverse backgrounds of the SMJ staff. It starts with the Publisher

who is black and the Editor-in-Chief who is white, and who are married. If I want to step outside the confines of my race and write on a black topic, my first point of reference lives with me. And if I really want to get street smart with the jargon of the day, I need look no further than her university-educated son, whose first piece for SMJ just happens to be part of this issue’s Feature, and who is working on a project with me.

who is writing about another race and doesn’t do the proper research or have a co-writer/editor from that race to establish credibility to the piece? To quote Toronto Star columnist Martin Regg Cohn:

Aah, you say, but what about the First Nations people? We have no one on staff yet, but I have acquired an indigenous friend who was subject of a SMJ Exclusive in 2016, and is now working hand-in-hand with me on an indigenous project.

When Mark Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar said, “I came to bury Caesar, not to praise him,” few in the crowd could guess he was about to tell the story behind the story. In April of this year, a group of highly-respected and multi-awarded investigative reporters got together in the GTA to ‘praise the story behind the story.’ That is what SMJ Magazine has been doing for nearly the past two years as we move into the realm of multimedia.

All these opinions are just so much posturing, as long as we maintain an ‘us vs. them’ mentality. Because cultures interact and indeed mix in marriage more than ever, it behooves us to be more inclusive and less divisive. Do we really need a federal parliamentary motion telling us we shouldn’t be anti-Islam? Was there ever a similar motion ever made in Canadian history about not being anti-Slavic? Or anti-Chinese? Or anti-Jewish? Or anti-Italian? Pulling out the racism card may seem like a tiresome act, but does anyone deny it still exists against blacks in some form? And finally, are we really going to pay attention to someone

“The point isn’t to belittle the pain people feel about lousy literature, but to call out bad writing for what it is: hurtful, harmful, prejudicial, offensive, gratuitous, and misguided.”

Canada is a diverse society. We have a diverse publication. Plenty of opportunities to get it right. Or wrong. Islamophobia legislation is all wrong. Denying that racism still exists is all wrong. Cultural appropriation is all wrong. Being culturally appropriate is all right.










Mark down Saturday, October 7th in your calendars to be present for a night of daring and unforgettable fashion. Couture Culture and Arts (CCA) is very privileged to bring in Canada for the very first time the one of a kind couture designer Furne One of Amato Couture. Over a 100 models and volunteers will be part of this stylish runway. It will be held at a 100-year old Victorian church at 162 Bloor Street West, right at the heart of Toronto’s trendy midtown Yorkville area. Furne Onè found his muse in his mother and grandmother who inspired him to sketch dresses as early as 10 years of age. Major doors opened after college, when he won the MEGA Young Designer of the Philippines Award and worked as an apprentice for lingerie designer Josie Natori at both her Paris and New York studios. Furne One’s dream of a faraway Middle Eastern Country became a re-location to the southeastern Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula in the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He opened his first boutique and named it Amato, meaning ‘beloved’ in Arabic, and currently has four fashions store “Amato Couture” outlets in Dubai. Furne One’s has dressed world class personalities like Lady Gaga, Shakira, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Paris Hilton, Carrie Underwood, Toni Braxton, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Priyanka Chopra, just to name a few. His collections by his own admission are controversial, but he says that “it’s important for a designer to have identity. You can tell that Channel is Channel. I’m a risk taker.” Couture, Culture and Arts (CCA) is an initiative supporting fashion and arts, inspired by the diversity of our Canadian population. We hold runway fashion shows with established international designers to inspire young talented and emerging Canadian designers. We then support them in showcasing their collections at fashion festivals both within Canada and internationally. CCA’s Amato Couture has partnered with Health and Wellness International Foundation (HWIF-Canada) this year. The founder of HWIF-Canada, Debra Lucas, is very supportive in wanting to make this runway show the talk of the fashion industry in Toronto and the GTA. She will head the creative team to ensure the runway and surrounding ambience will satisfy Furne One’s specifications. SMJ Magazine will be the official print media for the event. For more information on tickets go to:

CLARIS MINAS MANGLICMOT (Founder and Executive Director) Couture Culture and Arts (CCA) 647-294-4883 (mobile) Email: Website:






Frances-Anne Solomon’s hands, like that of an artisan potter, have been all over the Caribbean Tales brand, from its inception as an internet platform and print publication, to its development into a film festival, and today with its offshoots into TV, the Incubator Program, and Worldwide Distribution. She has been able elevate the program to its present international status through dedicated hard work through the years, and her own reputation as an artist, filmmaker, and storyteller. Frances-Anne was born in England of Trinidadian descent, went back to her homeland at age nine, came to Canada at age 18 where she developed her love of the arts, then returned to England later to begin her career. Her long involvement with the BBC, first in the Radio Drama Program, and later in television and film, proved an invaluable training ground and cemented her belief in the power of public broadcasting. Nonetheless, it was her work as a producer and director for her first company, Leda Serene Films, where her diverse background living in three separate counties really showed; in films like Peggy Su and What My Mother Told Me, and later in Canada with the same company, A Winter Tale and Kingston Paradise. When asked if the exposure to three separate societies has directly contributed to the richness of her resume, her answer contains a qualifier. “Yes, of course it has, but I am not unique. Caribbeans by nature are very mobile. We come from many places, and we are not hesitant about moving to many places. There’s a very

real sense of travel in the Caribbean people. Our culture is international. The largest reggae festival is in London, England. (Ed. Note: Toronto’s own Caribbean summer festival, most notably known as Caribana, is celebrating 50 years this year as the largest continuously running festival in the GTA.) There’s richness in our culture, and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing it within my own cultural community in three very different parts of the world.” Caribbean Tales started out in that internet platform in 2001, yet the Film Festival itself didn’t get going until 2006. Was the five-year delay deliberate, or was there something else in play at the time? Frances says the original idea for Caribbean Tales was to get out Caribbean work in the arts channels through social media and the newsletter/ magazine. The festival was started because a challenge arose in getting the work viewed, as both mainstream and niche festivals alike did not recognize the Caribbean brand. Frances is proud of what Caribbean Tales has become, with growth into TV and Worldwide distribution. She has a soft spot for the Incubator Program, because through it CT provides an opportunity for new filmmakers to break into the industry. And what of projects planned for the future? She smiles but gives nothing away.

“All I can say is what we have planned over the next twelve months is amazing!”






How many people can clearly point to one event in their lives as the major turning point? Sharon Lewis is one of the few that can do just that. The year was 1990. Sharon is an ‘immigrant child’ and performing arts wasn’t the thing to do. Certainly it wasn’t a career choice. Sharon continues. “I was in graduate school, majoring in political science. I was going to save the world. Then, out of the blue, I was asked to be in a play, of all things, a Caribbean play. I kept on saying no, no, no, but I was convinced to do it. So I did it. And I liked it. And I was good.” When Sharon jumped into theater, she really jumped in. Within a year, she was not only performing, she was writing, directing and the co-artistic director of the company, Second Look Community Arts. Soon she was instructing and directing youth in theater, which was something for someone who had no formal training in the arts. She even went to England for further training and came back wanting to pursue acting full-time.

The very first movie role Sharon landed was the lead role in Clement Virgo’s film Rude. She played the title character of Rude and was involved in another first: the first film written, directed and produced by Black Canadians. The film attracted festival attention, as Sharon went to the Cannes Film Festival in 1995 to represent the film, and later went also to TIFF. Talk about beginner’s luck! Sharon was stunned. “Here I am at Cannes walking on the Boardwalk, getting out of limos, posing on the red carpet, and I am giddy. I keep on saying to myself, ‘what is going on?’ But I am also screaming inside ‘I love acting!” Fast forward to the Caribbean Tales media launch and Sharon is a graduate of the Incubator Program and showcasing a trailer for her futuristic thriller Brown Girl Begins. However, as easy as some of the other landmark moments in her artistic life have been, this has been anything but that. “Yes, it’s been 15 years in the making. All along all I’ve heard was no to any backing for the film because women don’t do scifi (science fiction). I wasn’t going to be the girl to hear the nos.” With the release of Brown Girl Begins, Sharon Lewis will have chalked up another first.

Almost immediately, she co-founded Sugar ‘n Spice Productions, which was the only professional Canadian company promoting work by and for women of color. She co-wrote the Dora (Canadian equivalent of the Tony) nominated play sistahs. Sharon comments on that period. “It was a good time to form a women’s theater company because no one else was doing it. It was also the right time financially because Bob Rae and the NDP won the Ontario provincial election and there was a large increase in spending in the arts.” The company lasted five years and proved to be good training ground. One of the co-founders went to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Sharon switched to film as well, but instead went to L.A. to try and make it in Hollywood.







By Andrew Terry Pasieka

On a website for Shakirah Bourne, a talented rising director from the beautiful island of Barbados, she says “my soul mate is short fiction…my lover is screenwriting.” So with all the media and cameras surrounding us at the 12th annual Caribbean Tales International Film Festival media launch, we recited the lines to her, and then asked her: ‘my (blank) is directing.’ She laughs, says “oh wow, you’ve done your research!,” hesitates, and then blurts out “job.” When we say, given the tenet of the previous two lines, we thought she might have said “husband” or “spouse.” She initially blushes but quickly recovers and says, “I am a writer at heart. If I could, I would just write and let others take the spotlight.” Staying with quotes, we wondered what she meant when she said, “I voice what others try to keep secret?” “I come from a British colony. In Barbados we have inherited that British trait of keeping certain things behind closed doors and of not speaking of it. There are a lot of social issues that need to get out, so I feel it is my duty to speak up for others who don’t.”

Shakirah has also been an editor, proof reader, and magazine writer, and while she has enjoyed her time in those capacities, hopes that ‘day job tasks’ are things she soon will no longer have to do. “I am a storyteller at heart, and that is all I want to do.” Shakirah has been involved in the beginning of something new in Barbados, their International film

Festival. It is coming up to its second year, and she says some screenings are held on the beach. She then entices us with, “the festival will be held in early January. It’s a great time to come to Barbados!” Elsewhere in this issue is a review of Shakirah’s movie A Caribbean Dream, which was the feature presentation at the media launch. Was the process in putting this film together a long one? “Well the idea wasn’t mine; it was brought to me. I was to try and re-imagine Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a Bajan setting, and I initially was hesitant because I really didn’t like Shakespeare that much in school. It wasn’t the plays that bothered me as much as it was the Old English text. My ‘aha’ moment came when I start looking at the subplot of Bottom and the mechanics. I realized I could transform them into fisherman, and their Thisbe & Phoebus comedic interlude into a love story based on a Bajan folk song ‘King Jaja.’ Then when I got that worked out, I realized that the fairy games in the play could be an island festival. I knew I was on to something, but even then it was a labor of love. The film took three years to make.”

It may have taken three years, but was well worth it, as Puck says in the final lines of the play, “If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber’d here, While these visions did appear.”







“ C

Film Review By Kareem Gordon

Caribbean Tales International Film Festival’s debut screening of A Caribbean Dream by Director/Writer Shakirah Bourne proved to be truly magical. The re-imagining of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream” is set in the beautiful island of Barbados with a dash of modern Caribbean flavor during the celebration of Crop Over, showing off the marvelous ocean views the country has to offer.

away from some of the stronger points of cross-section such as the fisherman. The section of film in the forest with the fairies makes the film more of a re-enactment of Shakespeare then re-imagination as scenes stay much closer to the original than the fishermen’s scenes. At these points it felt like the Bajan accent was intruding on a Shakespearean scene rather than blending such as in most of Bottom’s dialogue and interactions.

The story depicts the entanglement of love between Demetrius (Sam Gillet) and Hermia (Marina Bye). The two are set to be married but are at odds as Hermia has developed a longing for the affection of Lysander (Jherad Alleyne) and Demetrius has been sneaking around with Helena (Keshia Pope) who secretly is in love with him. Demetrius’ father presents an ultimatum to Hermia that if she does not wed Demetrius then she shall forfeit her family inheritance. The countryside adventures that ensues takes the audience on an obstacle course of interracial love navigation complete with meddling fairies and mythical creatures alike.

Stellar performances from the cast helped these confusing moments pass by without affecting the audience’s attention levels. The highlight of the film was the final performance of the fishermen’s King JaJa play at the wedding ceremony. These scenes captivated the audience and were the most hilarious in the film.

A sub-plot that is wonderfully blended in this adaptation is the inclusion of Bajan folklore and local fisherman taking the role of the ‘mechanics’ from the original. The fishermen provide a bulk of the laughs in the film and give the audience an authentic Bajan easy-going nature feel. Bottom, the fisherwoman (Lorna Gayle), steals the show in this performance providing hilarity at every turn and the most seamless Bajan-Shakespearean delivery one can hope for. An initial worry was that the film would be difficult to follow with the complicated blend of Shakespearean English and the Bajan accent but some of the characters, for example Bottom and Lysander, showed that the fusion can work and be still be comedic. Although the inclusion of dancing scenes of the festival street parade into the plot seemed awkward, the overall the synergy of Bajan culture and Shakespeare was effectively done. Where the film did lose some viewers is the mystical elements of the tale which, despite staying near to the original play, takes


Beginning to end the film displays great cinematography and shot selection throughout, whether it is from the dreamy ocean view intro shots to the magical fairy moments. The director’s vision of making Barbados into a magical wonderland really comes to fruition. A definite standout is the production sound/visual quality, which sometimes plagues international films. Leaving the theatre I found myself more interested in wanting to see Caribbean-Shakespeare adaptations and a new understanding of some of what Barbados has to offer. I enjoyed the music and characters used in the story but would like to see more of the Bajan culture outside of just festival dancing. It would have been nice to see the setting more truly modern day Barbados rather than Shakespearean times set in Barbados. I would rate this film a 7.5 out of 10 held up by its strong acting performances and visual presentation. A Caribbean Dream is refreshing depiction and a visual delight for most any viewer, who will be hard-pressed not to crack a smile or start planning their next vacation..

Kareem Gordon is a graduate of the Centre for Young Black Professionals program. His goal is to be a community activist, pushing to create safe and supportive mentorship programs for minority youth empowerment. In addition to his natural writing skills, he has also been a radio host. Find Kareem on Facebook/Instagram, or by emailing: kareem.



“On behalf of the Fashion Ready Foundation team, I would like to congratulate SMJ Magazine on being nominated for “Fashion Media of the Year” at the 2017 African Fashion Industry Awards ceremony in Toronto on Saturday August 19th 2017, part of the 2017 African Fashion Week August 16th - 20th.”





is your

By Dr. Lisa Ramsackal

Becoming a mother has truly been one of my biggest accomplishments and joys. As a first time mom of a 5 week old (yes I’m a super new mom), I know firsthand no matter how much we read about caring and preparing for our new bundle of joy we can never be 100% prepared. Caring for your baby doesn’t start when they arrive; it actually begins with your health! Think about it moms, your baby lives the first 9 months of their lives in your body. Taking care of your body with a focus on core stability can help with a more comfortable, enjoyable pregnancy and recovery. The core is made up of your abdominal muscles in the front and the muscles in the back around your torso. These muscles work together to provide stability and protection of the spine and surrounding area. Functionally, achieving core stability helps to transfer forces and protect the spine and surrounding structures from injury during all activity weather you are weight lifting or carrying your baby. During pregnancy, the increase in the hormone relaxin loosens up joints to allow your pelvis to accommodate your baby. This causes low back muscles to work harder to keep your posture upright leading to fatigued muscles and back pain. As the baby grows, your abdominal muscles stretch, become weak, and no longer provide proper postural support creating additional strain. Good news expecting moms, there are steps that you can take to improve and/or prevent back pain

during pregnancy and speed up recovery post-delivery. Start with abdominal bracing. Bracing helps to gently support the lower spine by lightly contracting your abdominal muscles. You can practice abdominal bracing lying on your back or sitting in a chair. Gently tighten your abdominal muscles until they feel firm. Hold your contraction for 10-15 seconds, repeat 3-5 times and continue for 1-3 sets. Abdominal bracing is a foundational exercise that can be used while performing other core or body exercises and is especially helpful during everyday activities such as bending, lifting and carrying your child. Arm and leg extensions exercises are also great to help with core stability by using arm and leg movements while training your core. Begin on your hands and knees with your hands shoulder width apart and your knees hip width apart then get into abdominal bracing. Raise your left arm straight ahead so that your arm is forward and at the level of your ear. Hold for 5-10 seconds then bring your arm back down to the start position. Repeat 10-15 times. Repeat on the right side. Next lift your left leg so that it is extended straight out and aligned with your back making sure your hips are also aligned and not rotated up towards the sky or down towards the floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times.

Repeat on the right side. Maintain the abdominal brace throughout the exercise and repeat the cycle 1-3 times. Pelvic tilts are another exercise that helps with core strengthening and can also help to decompress the low back and alleviate low back pain. To start, lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place one hand flat between the ground and your low back. You should notice an arch in your low back. Next, slowly and gently tilt your pelvis by trying to flatten you spine towards the ground. You will feel your spine pressing against your hand if you are doing the exercise correctly. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times. Once you’ve mastered this exercise lying down you can practice it upright in the seated position. Core stability and strength are increasingly important during pregnancy as joints become looser, muscles weaker and the growing baby create more pressure on your pelvis. But, before you start any exercise programs always consult with your health care provider. Enjoy a healthy 9 months till baby! Dr. Lisa Ramsackal H.BSc., D.C., R.Ac. Chiropractor & Acupuncturist Green Health Clinic 3-265 Queen St South Miss, ON, L5M 1L9 T: 905-997-4468 M: 647-234-3747 W: E: SUMMER 2017





WOJCIK By Andrew Terry Pasieka

When David Wojcik became President and CEO of the Mississauga Board of Trade in September of 2015, he did so with what he called “unbridled enthusiasm” and a mission to take the organization to “new heights.”




This was spoken by a man who has literally come up through the ranks, first as a member, then as Committee Chair for the Growth & Power Series for CEOs and Executives, next as a business development manager, and finally as an advisor to the MBOT Board of Directors. Asked to reflect on his time so far, Wojcik smoothly works his way through a plethora of highlights. “It has been an exciting time…we have a new vision statement ‘connect-championadvance’…and a new strategic plan… rebranded our magazine which we now call Connect…have been forward thinking, discussing leading edge issues… launched MBOT TV, a weekly look at what’s happening in business in Mississauga… started a Ministers & Executives Series, completed one session in 2016 and ten so far in 2017…of all the things we’ve accomplished so far, I would say that the new strategic plan was the major one.” Wojcik spent over 25 years in finance, sales, and management, owning a production company that produced TV shows, commercials, and corporate videos. He was probably best known for BizTV Canada, which was shown throughout the country on CHCH, CBC, and Global. He decided in 2015 to sell the business to his partner, just as MBOT’s previous top executive, Sheldon Leiba, decided to vacate his post for other opportunities. Serendipidous? While Wojcik does see the coincidence in these dual decisions, he is quick to point out that his long standing relationship with the organization also made the move one of opportune timing. Mississauga was a collection of over a dozen villages and towns in the mid1970s when amalgamation into a city

took place. MBOT started even before that, as the Clarkson/Lorne Park Chamber of Commerce. It is because of this historical reference that the City and the MBOT recognize the uniqueness that is the old ‘downtown’ areas of Port Credit, Streetsville, Clarkson, and Malton, to name a few. Coming up in Wojcik’s watch will be a $56million pharmaceutical R & D center, in a city that already boasts at least a dozen Fortune 500 companies in that industry out of the 70+ and growing that are in Mississauga at present.. Then there is MiWay’s 403 ROW Express Bus Route, nicely complimenting the LRT network planned for the Hurontario north-south corridor, the major multi-use reclamation hub and environmentally sustainable community known as Lakeview, and the gargantuan $1.5billion Rogers 10 tower M City. Wojcik states that Mississauga is a close No.2 to Toronto in food services and life sciences companies. He then offhandly adds a very interesting point; almost 100 of the 220 or so Japanese companies in Canada are in Mississauga. He wraps it up with his view of how these projects have all fit in a business sense and what has been the catalyst for the city. “Individually these projects are impressive, but together they fit in with the city center intensification plan and part of the great cosmopolitan vision. This vision has been unique from the beginning; I have checked, and no other urban

metropolis has had a long term growth strategy with a major shopping mall that was actually planned for the core of the city. When Bruce McLaughlin set out the plans for Square One, only a true visionary could have foreseen that all the surrounding open fields would someday encompass a major city center.” The challenges Wojcik sees ahead for the MBOT are threefold and are sub-strategies of the strategic plan: first, to continue to make their case for their advocacy role among and on behalf of members; second, to grow membership; and third, to retain membership. The numbers have been static since he assumed his new role: 1000+ businesses, representing 40 to 50 thousand employees. But it is estimated that there are about 40,000 businesses in Mississauga with their own separate address. Not fazed by the nearly zero growth in membership in 2016 and 2017, Wojcik sees this turning around by a combination of selling their opportunity for membership in a growing MBOT hand-in-hand with the new spurt of growth anticipated for Canada’s 6th largest city. All that is left is to wait for growth explosion to take place. Rest assured, David Wojcik and the Mississauga Board of Trade will be in the center of it. To find out more about the MBOT, go to




E-COMMERCE: 3 Steps to Creating a Successful Online Business

By Veronica A. Morgan


The internet today is not like what it used to be. Almost every business now has an online presence, which helps your business soar while attracting new customers you would not have attracted with a brick and mortar business. The fact is, if you have a well thought out professionally designed website your business may be able to attract a global audience and client base.


Here are my three steps to help your business excel with e-commerce.

Create a Plan

Yes, Yes, Yes, you are constantly being told to have a business plan. What I am talking about is an online strategy, a roadmap that will guide you and help you keep on task with your daily online activities. Don’t just expect to create a website, Facebook page, Instagram and assume that’s it! Business will not come to you because you have a pretty page. You will need more than that. According to Branding expert Shauna Sincerely, “a lack of planning will only lead to wasted time, money and effort.”

Your online plan should include your target audience, marketing strategies, goals for your online business, but most importantly a clear identifiable message. In addition, your content should be accessible on any device. In addition, you will need to have a publishing schedule for your online content. There are many systems that can be used to accomplish this task. For instance, you can use Hootsuite to schedule your messages, MailChimp for your newsletters and to automate your email publishing. Likewise, Convert Kit is a good tool to help with your Sales Funnels. Take time to research and create a plan that will suit your online business.

Build a Strong Presence


The next thing you will need is a website that has an online store if you are selling products or services. However, if you are service based you may want potential customers


to contact you by email for pricing. What I have noticed from my own experience is that it’s always good to have an online store as this attracts visitors and they will be more convinced to make a purchase. You can start with websites such as Shopify, Big Commerce or free e-commerce services such as OpenCart and PrestaShop. These various services provide tools that will help you create a website, especially if hiring a professional is not within your current budget. They also offer digital shopping carts with credit card payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe. The bottom line is that you want your website to be accessible, provide updated tools for your ease of use and to help you turn visitors into customers.

Be Ready So you have your plan in place, your website set up and product and services listed in your online store. But do you have the infrastructure to handle all the orders, do returns and exchanges? Before you launch your online business, integrate and partner with other companies. For example, partner with Canada Post if you will ship physical goods. This way you will get discounts and support with shipping your packages. Integrate various Apps to your website that will help you monitor your sales and shipment. Because order fulfillment is a huge part of e-commerce, you want to be sure you have enough products to fulfill your orders.


If you are offering digital products, be sure that you have tested your systems to ensure smooth delivery of your digital products. Create follow up emails to thank your customers. You can also integrate systems that will let your customers review your products and services. You may also want to have your customers leave reviews. Having reviews of your products and service will help you stand out from your competitor and establish your business as a trusted online entity.

Victoria A. Morgan is the CEO of Finistra, Business and Career Consulting. Go to



Mr. Paul Ade is Executive Director of Diversity Advancement Network. I first met Paul three years ago at the first Black Canadian Awards show at the CNE in Toronto. It was a celebration of Black Canadians and their achievements. I found out that the Diversity Advancement Network is far more than just one award show when I was got the opportunity to meet with Paul. It is a non-profit organization with a national and global mandate to promote literacy, integration and economic empowerment of all people, especially minority groups and marginalized communities, continuously showcasing exceptional talents and entrepreneurship through seminars, conferences and award ceremonies. These initiatives are focused on professionals, business owners, women, leaders, students, arts and the entertainment industry. When we asked him about the basis behind the initiatives and programs, Paul replied that it runs the gamut, from giving black people opportunities to networking with peers, being on TV, or even running for office. Paul mentioned that they provide training on different strategies for preparing to run for public office. When we mentioned meeting Paul at The Black Canadian Awards he said it was one of the biggest programs ever done, but is currently suspended for a while to focus more on The Black Women Honors and Empowerment which has been extended to Africa,

the Caribbean, across Canada and the USA and even Europe. “It was one of the most challenging things I have every done in my life. There was a lot of conflict, supporters were dropping out. There were rumors about me being new to the city, even though I lived in Toronto more than nine years before relocating to Calgary. The good that came out of it is that we built a big data base and partnerships.” Paul’s motivation for starting the Diversity Advancement Network began with his involvement in the church. “I pastored four churches in the past, and also helped others start up their own churches in several cities across Canada. But I made a decision I no longer wanted to proceed in that direction and wanted to use my time to serve the community in other ways. Bringing people together and doing other activities.” DIVERSITY ADVANCEMENT NETWORK PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES: African Caribbean Economic Empowerment Black Canadian Awards Black Canadian Economic Empowerment Black Canadian Women Awards Black Canadian Queen Ambassador Program Black Canadian National Conference Black Canadian Business Summit Black Canadian Business Awards Black Canadian Youth Network Black Canadian Civic / Mayoral Forum Black Canadian National Wall of Role Models Black Women Awards Black Women Honors & Empowerment

The most crucial aspect of the D.A.N. is the The Black Canadian Network aka “Black Canadians.” The Black Canadian Network is one of the largest networks for the black community in Canada. Originally launched in 2004 as a genuine idea to help others and officially launched in 2010 in Calgary and Toronto, “Black Canadians” is a unifying voice for the black community with a diverse reach to a multicultural Canada. Paul continues. “We connect with hundreds of business owners, forward-thinking visionaries, community leaders, young professionals and students. We are all about creating opportunities. As part of our vision, we foresee a Black Canadian community that is strong and economically independent. We hope to better impact our community beyond Canada as we presently invest in creating new international chapters and forge alliances in the Caribbean, US, Europe and Africa to further break down barriers and open doors of opportunities to more people.” To find out more about this organization, or to partner or collaborate with Paul on a project, go to

Women Leadership Conference SUMMER 2017







Rosemary Sadlier’s life has been steeped in history. Rosemary was born and raised in Toronto. Her roots in Canada reach back to Pre-Confederation. Her mother’s family can be traced to 1840, while her father’s ancestors arrived in New Brunswick in 1793. Rosemary is the author of six books on African-Canadian history. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Order of Ontario. The William Peyton Hubbard Race Relations Award, Women for PACE Award, the Black Links Award, the Planet Africa Marcus Garvey Award and the Harry Jerome Award. She is a Fellow of the Ontario Teachers Federation, and the first black woman to be named to the OTF’s and the Robert F. Kennedy’s list of Global Defenders for ‘Speak Truth to Power.’ Most recently, she was awarded the Lifetime Achiever Award from the International Women Achievers.



Rosemary was the president of the Ontario Black History Society for 22 years. The OBHS is responsible for initiating observances of Black History Month and the celebration of August 1 as Emancipation Day. As this day approaches once again, SMJ Magazine spent time with her discussing the subject of history. SMJ: You once said: “I was fortunate that I had a link to the African Canadian community through my church and from my own lived experience, knew


that the stereotypes offered did not apply. I also spent time outside of school, reading and learning about African history which was a powerful tool towards my own identity.” Do you think that experience has formed the basics for your lifelong self-discovery through history? Rosemary: Absolutely, I would not have any sense of self as a person of African descent. In school I was the only Black person. I was not represented in my school, in my neighborhood, community, or even in books I was reading. There was a time when people would refer to a man or woman as white and it was as if blacks did not exist…You were constantly negotiating your identity in terms of what you are as opposed to what you are not. SMJ: You continue to advocate for black people and human rights through education and outreach. Can you explain some of the things you are currently doing in that area of your work? Rosemary: I am working to bring diversity to everything I do. I am working with institutions, trying to bring about social justice…and creating an African focus. I have been working on this year’s Emancipation Day events which will include a video, exhibit presentation and panel discussion to help raise awareness as to what emancipation is. I am continuing to lobby the federal government to have August 1st declared Emancipation Day. This follows my success at having Emancipation Day already proclaimed by the City of Toronto, City of Ottawa and the province of Ontario through an allparty, unanimous bill in 2008. SMJ: You spent over twenty years with the Ontario Black History Society. From your experiences there with other cultural involvements, can you name three accomplishments that you are most proud of? Rosemary: I was delighted that I was able to successfully initiate a Black History Month proclamation in all provinces, but more importantly, I was able to proposition the province of Ontario to see that it remained an ongoing and permanent celebration. In conjunction with

the Hon. Jean Augustine we successfully achieved the national status of having February named Black History Month. That was a very proud moment for me. I was on stage with the then Prime Minister of Canada, the Rt. Hon Jean Chretien, for the announcement. I was overwhelmed with pride and joy. I was also involved in the establishment of the OBHS Leaders of Tomorrow Youth Conference; through advocacy of the historic African Methodist Episcopal Church site received funds towards a museum; and involved in the development of the Black International Film Festival. SMJ: Can you tell our readers other projects you have been recently involved with? Rosemary: I was a member of the Heritage Interpretation Working Group related to the preservation of ‘ward’ history, involved with the Canada Post Advisory Committee, and oversaw the naming of Mathieu Da Costa as the first Black African Canadian on a postage stamp for 2017. My efforts on the Freedmen’s Bank records Initiative resulted with my being the only Black Canadian invited to the National African American Museum in Washington for the handing over of these records. SMJ: I know it’s important for young black people to know the legacy of their racial struggles. Why is it also important for them to learn their history? Rosemary: Our history is our story of struggles, our resistance, our hope in Canada and hope for the future, because when you see where we are coming from, you have a sense of where you are going. I personally know from my own experience the challenges that take place when you don’t see yourself reflected wherever you go. And if we are to be successful for the next generation of black youths, we need to have a sense of direction. Our youths need to see themselves and value themselves outside of their family situation; in schools and communities. There have to be proactive measures to reduce many of the situations we have right now.

Email Rosemary Sadlier for speaking engagements at:




Why a Matchmaker Might be the Perfect Fit (Part 2) Written by: Akua Hinds

Matchmaking is an art form.

Like all works of art, matchmaking requires a goal, a plan, and effort in order to achieve a masterpiece. A matchmaker’s goal is to achieve as many compatible connections as possible. While it’s true that some people prefer to make their own matches, others prefer getting assistance from professionals who can help them transition from a season of singleness to a season of togetherness. I enjoy owning three worldwide niche dating websites, but I prefer not to arrange the matches for my sites’ members; I like leaving that up to the individuals. A matchmaker will step in and guide you on how you can improve your opportunities to attract compatible matches both online and offline. Antoinette Freeman, a professional matchmaker and image consultant through her Toronto based company Take II Introvisuals, cautions singles not to judge based on superficial appearances. We first asked for her expertise in last fall’s issue (SMJ Magazine No. 15). “These days, technology has it pros and cons…some people can have very unrealistic expectations when it comes to having their relationship goals fulfilled. People tend to go more by a visual rather than compatibility. A person would not be able to verify if a potential mate’s photo is real or a mirage. That is the downside to using internet dating. There is a lot of insincere, married people. Technology is always changing and people want instant gratification. That is very unrealistic. Anything that takes time to build is always worth it in the long run. Just think back to your friends; some come into your life for a reason; others for a season. You may have friends from childhood and friends that you met less than 30



When relationships don’t work out, it’s easy to lose confidence in your abilities to secure companionship with someone new. However,

...a professional matchmaker can give you a complete and total makeover from the inside and out .

a year ago. When the chips are down this is when you know who your real friends are. With social media, some people have many friends but lack the true friendship by connecting in person. I would call that person an acquaintance rather than a friend.” So, who exactly is a friend? Social media sites encourage us to follow and friend people whether we’ve met them or not. According to Freeman, a legitimate friend is someone who is part of your life’s important moments. “Someone who knows you intimately with events such as your birthday, new job promotion etc. To cultivate a healthy, relationship takes time. A quick start usually means a quick end. Time is something that we cannot get back. Chatting with someone over the internet or a dating site is very time consuming. It can leave a person devastated when they find out they were conned or lied to. issues develop.”

Freeman outlined some of the caveats to keep in mind. “At TAKE II INTROVISUALS, our ideal clients are people who can handle constructive criticism, be able to compromise, and express themselves in a mature, orderly manner. Attitude is a big part of the coaching process; so someone who cannot admit when they are wrong, offensive etc. would be somewhat challenging. Sometimes, through no fault of their own, one could have inherited limited belief patterns from their parents. This could be compared to their thought process on interracial marriage, a woman’s place in the household, a man with tattoos etc. People need to let go of these beliefs if they truly want to succeed.” Akua Hinds, journalist, actress, music performer & instructor, is the founder & owner of dating sites www.,, www. & independent business owner of and Please visit




“I read in James that God gives wisdom generously to those that ask, so I did. I said to myself that I want to be great; I don’t want to be a statistic. I want to matter. Coming from that revelation, the first challenge for me was finding out who I was; if I didn’t know that, then I wouldn’t know where I was going.” And now, over twenty years later, Akwasi is happily married and an author of a fourth book in the past eight years. Does he feel he is following his purpose, fulfilling his destiny by writing, and not just using a natural skill, like an aptitude for math? “I am filled with joy when I write. I often stay up to 1 or 2 am. My wife will remind me it is a work day tomorrow, and I will feel sluggish during the day, but when I was writing I wasn’t tired at all.”

AKWASI (Makoma)


Writing His Way to Destiny By Andrew Terry Pasieka

We have often heard the expression ‘rising like a phoenix bird out of the ashes,’ referring to someone or something making a near miraculous renaissance after supposed being completely defeated or devastated. In the case of Akwasi (Makoma) Afriyie, he actually was in ‘the ashes’ for most of his early life until his immigration from Africa to Canada as a young man. Akwasi grew up under harsh circumstances, being a loner and not liking school, a large part of that being told he would not amount to anything. When he arrived in Canada things did not improve much at the start because he struggled with the language and the customs of his new home. What turned it around for him was a passage in the Bible and a determination to change.



Akwasi’s books appear to be taking the reader on a step-bystep journey climbing their own mountain. The first and second books, The Agape Love of God and Principals of Divine Love were reviewed in SMJ Magazine Holiday/Winter 2013 Issue No. 3. The Agape book is like the base camp, that all our strength we need in coping with life comes from the everlasting love of God. The Divine book is like the first level camp in our climb, showing how we can adapt God’s love in our actions and relationships. The third book, Pressing Forward: 7 Keys to Understanding Your Full Potential can be compared to a handbook on overcoming the first destiny-killing obstacle we all face: the fear of failure. The fourth a latest book just published is entitled Greatness Beyond Measure, and deals with the next obstacle in that climb up destiny mountain: the fear of success. Akwasi describes his own journey in writing the book as a testament to overcoming that second fear. “Our purpose in whatever we determine we are called to do should be governed by Christian principles. We should live by the Word, and not be distracted by life’s temptations. If we are anointed and appointed to fulfill our purpose, then we have the authority, and we can overcome that fear.” Akwasi is picking up steam because he says his next book will be ready next year. It is actually part two of Greatness, which will be a detailed examination of a number of people who have overcome the third fear, the fear of making to the top. People like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Theresa. He held off on this part because had he combined the two parts, “the book would have been over 500 pages. I am not a novelist.” Maybe you are not a novelist yet Akwasi. But you never know where your destiny will take you.



The Canadian International Black Women Event (CIBWE) recently held its third annual weekend event in Brampton. SMJ Magazine published a story featuring our Publisher Shelley Jarrett, who was one of the first ‘One Hundred Black Women to Watch’ at the inaugural event held on May 23rd, 2015. Shelley was also invited to sit on a panel discussing the topic “Making it in the Media,” and had this to say about the dual honor.

“I am a daughter, sister, mother, and wife before I am a business woman. Any impression I can make is due to (me) expanding and diversifying my brand…being a vessel to affect change is a basis for my inspirations.” We wondered if that quote still rang true two years later.

“Yes it does. I have been actively working on projects that were first stories in the magazine which we want to bring to the screen as documentaries. We will be exploring in depth issues facing marginalized women and visible minorities, and attempt to give voice to the voiceless.” Images by @capturedbyshani SUMMER 2017



Upon further examination of the 100 women who were honored in 2017, we find that nearly half are less than 40 years of age. In that same story from two years ago, our Publisher stated: “Don’t worry about the times. Focus on your destiny (realize) your passion, and…with success comes sacrifice.” We have a theory that older women benefit from the wisdom acquired from enduring life’s hardships first hand. Can these mature women impart a form of mentoring to younger women in this regard, or must younger women endure the trials as well?

“I think it can be both. Younger women under 40 can gain insight from the mentoring of older women. However, I also think that all women can learn from each other, no matter their age. Some women of relatively few years are open to receiving advice from all women, so they can reach their destiny. Other women not at ease in a one-to-one setting do not have as smooth a path.”

The 100 honorees this year cover three generations. Could they all grasp event organizer Rose Cathy Handy’s inspiration in the same way? Publisher Shelley responds that she understands exactly what Rose is trying to do, but is skeptical if all the women honored caught the essence of that inspiration. If they did, attendance and participation among honorees and alumni would have been much higher. Ah yes, attendance and participation. The bane of any event organizer. Rose Cathy Handy has said that the key to the ultimate success of CIBWE, which she has said will be attained when 1000 women are in attendance, lies in alumni participation. As an example, one initiative she encouraged was for attendees to piggyback an activity of their group or organization on the CIBWE weekend agenda. Except for a well-attended panel discussion on interracial relationships organized by the Publisher, no one else took up the offer. Why was there such a poor response? Our Publisher thought it simply came down to lack of communication in relaying information. She thought that too many alumni just see the CIBWE just as a celebratory Saturday night gala. The secondary focus



just wasn’t registering to the extent it should be. So what can be done to rectify the situation and maximize alumni attendance and participation?

“If I were Rose, I would establish an alumni focus group and would do regular networking events, perhaps three or four months apart, to build relationship among the alumni. Building relationships is the foundation for realizing Rose’s dream and accomplishing the legacy she wants to leave in memory of her sister Esther.” It is one of those complicated finish-what-you-start tasks that has many variables to take in account before true satisfaction is achieved. Go to (images by @capturedbyshani)


3 Alumni on the Red Carpet Images by @capturedbyshani SUMMER 2017

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