In 2020, members of the Black Canadian Fundraisers’ Collective, including Founder Nneka Allen and MPNL alumna Múthoní Karíukí, created the Black Canadian Fundraisers’ Collective (BCFC) Award for students in Carleton University’s Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership graduate program. The award supports Black students aspiring to pursue a career in professional fundraising and promotes Black leadership within the philanthropic and nonprofit sector to make professional education more accessible, equitable and inclusive by reducing financial barriers. BCFC is investing in the aspirations of future Black fundraisers and ensuring their access to financial support as they pursue higher learning. We are pleased to present four outstanding emerging sector leaders as the first recipients of the Black Canadian Fundraisers’ Collective Awards.
I have been a change-maker since I was a young girl. When my mother explained that Black women had to work twice as hard to achieve what they wanted, I rejected getting less than I deserved. I began putting in the work. After all, my parents immigrated to Canada, leaving family and friends in Cameroon to create a better life for their children. Their country had been exploited by colonizers and abused by opportunists. My parents took the initiative to change the trajectory of their future, so I learned from the best. As I grew up with inequities persevering around me, I began understanding that here, injustices are hidden behind the privilege of living in Canada. Discrimination against marginalized groups, gender-based violence, human trafficking, oppressive institutions we are taught to trust – I realized change was necessary for everyone the system undermined. I sought out formal education to equip me to serve the exploited and hold the powerful accountable. I surrounded myself with people who refused to be complicit. I volunteered with organizations strategizing structural and rehabilitative solutions. I am a change-maker because I refuse to wade in the face of injustice. The most exciting part is, I am just getting started.
We are living through a crucial period for philanthropy. Decision makers across sectors are increasingly espousing the merits of inclusivity as diverse communities continue to make in-roads in previously monolithic social spaces. While this is a welcome change, it is also raising the risk of superficial allyship. As representatives of a vast array of communities and causes, this is the chance for philanthropic and nonprofit institutions to be thought-leaders of more authentic, inclusive engagement. This is a call to our sector to be brave and intentional in highlighting diverse perspectives and lived experiences – to be changemakers. Personally, this award provides further impetus and energy to amplify my communities’ voices within the nonprofit sector and beyond.
Walter Bright Itoe
As a society, we’ve come a long way, we’ve made enormous progress but there is still a lot more we can do. The fight for a better society never ends, it just moves from one generation to the other. As a person who grew up in Africa, I’m optimistic we can fight corruption, poverty, and nepotism, just to name a few. As an immigrant residing in Canada, I believe we can try to win the fight for social justice, homelessness, racial equity, and mental health awareness. I chose to be proactive in these issues so our communities will be better off tomorrow than it is today. Let’s create platforms and have respectful and uncomfortable conversations about the things that matter to us, let’s call out corrupt leaders, and organizations that don’t have the interest of the communities they claim to serve at heart. Let’s talk. Collectively we can translate good intensions into positive action. We can all be change makers. Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change you wish to see in the world” maybe that’s a good starting point for all of us or the easy solution to all our societal shortcomings. As a human being, I’m committed to these fights.
I am very honoured and grateful to be one of the first recipients of the MPNL Black Leadership Award. As I begin this next phase of my learning, I am excited to strengthen my position as a young leader in the sector, and place an emphasis now on being a change-maker. The need for increased representation has been ever-present for me since I joined the charitable sector in 2016, and I am excited to be part of the shift towards a more inclusive and diverse sector in years to come.
Receiving this Award has helped me come to understand there is a network of strong, Black leaders behind and around me, and in a space with so few diverse practitioners, this is incredibly empowering. I hope to use my voice not only to impact policy and practice, but also to inspire other members of my community to lend their valuable perspectives and experience to the philanthropic and non-profit sector, and do what I can to ensure they know there is a place for them within it.