From activists, to athletes, authors, and entrepreneurs—SHIFTER is proud to present its second annual Outstanding Black Men in Canada list for 2022.
Launched back in 2020, following the murders of George Floyd and Toronto rapper Houdini, SHIFTER’s annual Outstanding Black Men in Canada list was created to celebrate Black men having a positive impact at work, at home and in the community, all while promoting brotherhood among Black men and dispelling negative stereotypes.
The contributions of Black men across Canada stretch far and wide in a variety of sectors. Whether it’s coaching kids in sports, addressing food insecurity, creating job opportunities for Black students in tech, or making pathways for mentorship in the music business, there are countless stories—both told and untold—of Black men who are defying biases, breaking boundaries, and overcoming generational trauma.
We are proud to present this year’s Outstanding Black Men in Canada for 2022. This curated list showcases inspirational men who have moved mountains and made positive change in their communities and in the world. We received nominations from across Canada, and our finalized list includes changemaking gentlemen from across the country. Our jurors included four Black men and women from various Canadian cities and across a number of industries.
It’s our aim at SHIFTER to celebrate Black men in all their essence, while simultaneously addressing the limited and often destructive narrative of Black men in society and in media. We also strive to promote a culture of brotherhood, solidarity, and mutual respect among Black men in Canada, where we don’t hold back from sharing love and gratitude for one another.
In a special edition this year, we honour the legacy of Ottawa hip hop artist Markland “Jahiant” Campbell with the The Markland “Jahiant” Campbell Community Dedication Award. The winner of this award is a community leader, selected by the family of Campbell, who promotes values of peace and unity.
SHIFTER is delighted to celebrate the contributions of these Black men. Read about them below, in no particular order.
Samuel Tita is the founder of Black Men Style, a platform that showcases the best of Black men’s fashion. With a mission of fostering an inclusive community of dignity and solidarity, Black Men Style brings together hundreds of Black Canadian men in their best attire for events and photo shoots in Toronto and Ottawa throughout the year. More than just fly fits, the programming helps Black men see themselves in a light where they are wholly celebrated. Amassing an audience of 7500+ followers on Instagram, it is refreshing to take a scroll through their feed to see Black men smiling, suited up, and loving on themselves.
“The incredible work that Sam has done with founding Black Men Style to positively portray black men in our community. Beyond that the incredible work that he has done to create safe spaces for our community to convene in Toronto speaks for itself. He is incredibly deserving of being recognized for his incredible work and the incredible community events he has put together.” – Nominee
Trevane “Tre” Sanderson is the newly crowned winner of Top Chef Canada Season 10. Bringing home the title of Top Chef Canada this year is not just a personal win for Sanderson, it’s a victory for the entire Black community. Sanderson has made history as the first Black contestant to win the competition.
With a knack for the details and pushing the bar in creativity, Sanderson is the Chef de Partie at Vela in Toronto. He brings over 10 years of culinary experience, with stops at some of Toronto’s hottest kitchens, including Baro and Hotel X. Now crowned as Canada’s Top Chef, Sanderson is breaking barriers one plate at a time and hoping to inspire a younger generation of Black boys in culinary arts.
His inspiration for becoming a chef came from growing up in a Caribbean home where food and cooking brought the family together. “Growing up and being in a Jamaican household, food was so important”, Sanderson explains. “Everyday, my grandmother or my mother would make a spread of food, whether it was ackee and salt fish, dumplings or oxtail. At a young age, the food was so good and it made me interested in pursuing a professional career in this industry…it was inspiring to see the smiles it puts on our faces.”
Connect with about Tre: Instagram
Shamier Anderson & Stephan James
Shamier Anderson and Stephan James have become household names in cinema, starring alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood in a time when Black roles are still hard to come by.
Despite their success south of the border, the brothers from Scarborough still find a way to give back to their hometown. Back in 2020, they made a splash when they announced the creation of the Legacy Awards, Canada’s first nationally televised Black awards show. The awards aired this past September on CBC with Anderson and James holding down hosting duties. From the celebration of the demise of the patty shop, the distribution of the legendary Randy’s patties among the audience, to the performances, it was an expression of Black Canadian culture that we’ve never seen on television before.
The pair are also founders of The Black Academy, their Bay Mills Studios production company, and Bay Mills Investment Group alongside their brother Sheldon James.
Troy Crossfield is a multifaceted media creative who excels both behind the scenes and in front of the screen. A family man at heart, Troy is committed to his children and is an example of excellence in Black fatherhood.
A leader in arts and entertainment, Crossfield makes intentional effort to support other Black men. Troy Crossfield runs a monthly prayer meeting and charity drive called “Iron Sharpens Iron”. This is a gathering for Black men to be counselled, inspired and prayed for. The initiative goes the extra step to foster a sense of brotherhood and looking after one another by collecting donations for incarcerated men.
Troy is also an entrepreneur and owns the first Canadian black owned, faith-based TV, film and theatre company, Crossfield House Productions. There have been so many groundbreaking firsts for this production company in Canada and internationally and it is important to know that a Black man––Troy Crossfield––is at the helm. Troy is outstanding in his support, generosity and leadership.
Wes Hall came from very humble beginnings in Jamaica to become one of the most influential business people in Canada. He has established himself as the preeminent leader in shareholder advisory services and contested investor situations. Canada’s leading newspaper, The Globe and Mail, has called him one of the nation’s “most influential powerbrokers,” Canadian Business Magazine named him one of the “most powerful business people” in 2016, Toronto Life magazine voted him among the “50 most influential Torontonians in 2020,” the International Association of Business Communicators (Toronto) named him their “2020 Communicator of the Year,” and Maclean’s magazine ranked him number 16 on their 2021 Power List of the “50 most powerful people in Canada.”
Hall is known for his generosity, leveraging his business success to benefit others with a number of impactful charitable initiatives, including the Black North Initiative, an organization he founded to combat anti-Black racism and strategically address systemic barriers. Hall also serves as a Board Member of the SickKids Foundation, Pathways to Education, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and The Black Academy. He is also a Member of the Board of Governors at Huron University College.
He is currently a co-star on the CBC show Dragon’s Den and recently released his memoir No Bootstraps When You’re Barefoot: My Rise from a Jamaican Plantation Shack to the Boardrooms of Bay Street.
Wayne Purboo is a McMaster University alumnus and DeGroote School of Business Honorary Doctorate recipient with 25+ years of experience as a serial entrepreneur in the media and telecom industries. He has a range of expertise in software development, systems engineering, sales, product, finance, and management. Wayne played significant roles in the creation of over $2B CDN in value across three startups and has acquired extensive experience in growing all aspects of technology companies.
As the SVP Products at AT&T, Wayne added direct to consumer understandings of carrier grade products for video and broadband to his already impressive list of skills. His portfolio included DIRECTV, Uverse and NFL Sunday Ticket. Prior to AT&T, Wayne was co-founder and CEO of QuickPlay Media. QuickPlay Media was acquired by AT&T in 2016. Wayne was also part of the executive team that led a successful exit of Solect Technology Group. Solect was acquired by Amdocs (NYSE:DOX) in 2000. At Amdocs, Wayne spent three years as CTO of the IP Division.
In 2019, Wayne became the SVP of Strategy at New Relic where he was responsible for partnerships, acquisitions, and new initiatives and in October 2021, he transitioned to a new role at Amazon as VP of Video Shopping.
Over the years, Wayne’s success has been recognized by numerous professional and educational institutions including Canada’s Top 40 under 40, Deloitte Fast 50, Canada’s Spotlight Awards and most recently by the University of the West Indies – Vice Chancellor’s Award. He has also been active on the boards and advisory of Virgin Unite, Toronto International Film Festival, Arundo, Evergent, Print Parts and Cellwand. Wayne and his wife Nigela live in Oakville, Ontario with their three sons.
In 2020, Wayne and his wife Nigela Purboo founded the Onyx Initiative to help close the systemic gap in the hiring, retention and promotion of Black college and university students and recent graduates for roles in corporate Canada.
Lekan Olawoye is the founder and CEO of Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) — the largest Black tech and business community in North America — and is a passionate advocate for organizational change and lasting progress. He was named one of Canada’s “Top 40 Under 40” in 2021 for his indelible mark as a thought leader in Black tech. Olawoye draws on his cross-sector experience to help audiences learn how to foster transformational change and harness the power of meaningful diversity.
Prior to BPTN, Olawoye was the program director then lead executive of talent development at MaRS Discovery District. There, he guided professionals in adapting to new environments in fast-growing companies. Olawoye was also the executive director of For Youth Initiative and served as the chair of the Ontario government in 2013. Throughout these roles, Olawoye earned a reputation for effective leadership and incomparable vision.
In February 2022, Olawoye and his team launched Obsidi by BPTN, an all-in-one networking platform for Black professionals to access more opportunities and level up their careers. Olawoye also created BFUTR, the largest Black professional summit in North America, with a mandate to disrupt the network gap facing Black professionals. His work has received media coverage in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and TechCrunch.
Olawoye has a Bachelor of Social Work from Ryerson University and a Master’s in Social Work, with a specialization in non-profit management, from the University of Toronto. He has volunteered with the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) and the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services.
Ian Andre Espinet is a Toronto-born, serial entrepreneur, creative and lifelong community advocate.
A business professional with over two and a half decades of combined expertise in various areas of business, he is a proficient marketer, graphic designer & creative director, social media specialist, entertainment impresario, public speaker, moderator and community servant.
A trusted and respected member of the Canadian music & entertainment sectors, his dedication to excellence has earned him a revered spot amongst Canada’s elite as a transformer that has changed the face of entertainment in Canada.
He frequently volunteers and speaks to children/youth on entrepreneurship; is currently a member of the Ontario Creates Industry Advisory Committee (IAC), co-chair of advocacy & member of programming committees of ADVANCE (Canada’s Black Music Collective), FACTOR Hip Hop and R&B Juror for the last 5 sessions and CARAS Juno Awards judge. He is the co-creator of the Breaking Down Racial Barriers Roundtable Initiative & the BDRB Declaration to End Anti-Black Racism in the Canadian Music Industry which in 2021 was signed by over 450 individuals, corporations, organizations and government institutions, and author of the CIMA commissioned report: Breaking Down Racial Barriers: Anti-Black Racism in the Canadian Music Industry (Vol 1) which will be used in the creation of a more equitable industry.
He has served on the board of CHRY/VIBE 105.5fm (4 years) as Caras’ JUNO hip hop juror and judge, and is the recipient of the Government of Canada’s “150 Neighbours” CityBuilder Award (for service to Scarborough) and a City of Toronto Volunteer & Community Service Award. Ian supports a variety of charitable organizations through his 20 Winterbrook Initiative which raised over 75k in 2020 in support of Tropicana Community Services and the Agincourt Community Services Association.
Roger Dundas is the proud publisher and co-founder of Canadian Black media outlet ByBlacks. Founded in 2013 with his wife, Camille Dundas, ByBlacks is an award-winning publication that has pushed the agenda in amplifying Black voices in Canadian media. ByBlacks has showcased a variety of social causes, business leaders, and news and entertainment features, while simultaneously providing a platform for self-identifying Black Canadian journalists to share their voice with the world.
Speaking on his accomplishments, Dundas shares:
“If you said that family and community are my passions, you’d be right. Meeting new people and building relationships is the foundation of every project that I have the honour to work on. Scouting and managing new branding and publicity clients as Creative Director of 404 Media Group, has connected me to so many organizations I’m proud to work with, including The Spelling Bee of Canada and the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. My team has helped land coveted interviews for our clients on shows such as Breakfast Television, CBC News, CP24 Breakfast, CTV Canada AM, CTV Your Morning, Entertainment Tonight, Global Morning, and the Toronto Star.
I’m also the proud publisher of award-winning ByBlacks.com, Canada’s #1 Black online magazine. It’s emerged as a bold, innovative platform leading the way in featuring diverse aspects of the Black Canadian community. I’m passionate about parenting and recently completed The Father Project: an online photo series that highlights black Canadian men talking about how their relationship with their father affects how they parent. I had the privilege of sharing my views about fatherhood and masculinity through appearances on CBC Metro Morning, National Post, The Dr. Vibe Show, CTV Your Morning, NewsTalk 1010 radio, G98.7FM and The Good Men Project. In 2016, I was the recipient of the Black Business and Professional Association; Men of Honour award.”
Dwayne Morgan began his career with the spoken word in 1993. In 1994, he started his business, Up From The Roots, to create opportunities for other artists of colour. He still runs Up From The Roots to this day. Morgan has published 14 books, produced 9 albums, toured in 18 countries internationally. He was inducted into the Scarborough (Ontario) Walk of Fame in 2013, and has won numerous awards for his art and commitment to community.
Morgan has produced and hosted two TV shows, his short film Three Knocks premiered at the Reel World Film Festival, his photography has been exhibited in Toronto and used by the National Eating Disorder Institute of Canada, and his books are used in some Ontario school boards.
As a curator, Morgan has given opportunities to hundreds of other artists. He is the creator and founder of the annual When Brothers Speak and When Sisters Speak spoken word concerts, the Spoken Soul Festival, the Soul Slam, the Toronto International Poetry Slam, and the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word.
Bryan Johnson is the founder of Black Boys Code, a non-profit organization with 11 chapters across Canada, and one in the USA.
Through Black Boys Code, Bryan is inspiring a generation of Black youth to take control of their future and become tomorrow’s digital creators and technological innovators by helping them develop digital literacy and computer competence—the foundation of a path towards a career in technology.
City Fidelia is an Ottawa-based rapper, entrepreneur and community mobilizer. Having performed at sold-out shows in North America, Asia, and Europe, City Fidelia considers himself as an artist from a small city with big dreams.
From the age of nine, Fidelia’s mother was a strong support for kids in their community by bailing them out of jail and providing a space for the young homeless to stay. Fidelia credits the actions of his mother for inspiring him to become a community builder with an entrepreneurial spirit. Growing up in a community facing poverty, violence and incarceration, Fidelia carved out a way to overcome obstacles, emerging as a community leader.
Using music as a form of catharsis, his conscious, forward-looking lyrics touch on the realities of being a Black man in Canada. His most recent project, Painkiller, is a testament to Fidelia’s knack for thoughtful storytelling.
Also known for his entrepreneurship, Fidelia founded the Real House Of Ensemble along with partners Stan Lukoki, the head of the agency, Abe Abadi and his brother Jeff Sanon in 2020. He also is a mastermind behind music mentorship program, FRMLA, which provides young BIPOC artists with the skills they need to succeed in the music industry through a variety of programs and workshops.
His recording studio has become a second home for young Black artists in the city of Ottawa and FRMLA continues to touch lives as it grows. City Fidelia is on a mission to empower, inspire, and motivate.
As one of HGTV Canada’s most beloved personalities, Sebastian has enjoyed nearly a decade on the air waves as host of Save My Reno and Tackle My Reno on top of being an indelible part of hit ensemble series’ Home To Win and Family Home Overhaul. Sebastian is also the proud creator and executive producer of the highly anticipated new series, Gut Job. Sebastian takes great pride in being a strong BIPOC voice in Canadian design & renovation TV production and looks forward to a fruitful future of doing what he does best – making stunning, thought provoking, endlessly entertaining content.
Chef Bashir Munye
Chef Bashir Munye is part of a new generation of Toronto chefs who are inspired by global cuisine while creating the future of local and sustainable food ideas.
A true global child, Bashir’s experience of food embraces many geographical and cultural boundaries.Born in Somalia, and raised in Italy, he has called Toronto home for the past 22 years. Growing up in the Mediterranean fresh, seasonal foods was the norm. Chef Bashir continues this tradition through his farmer’s market operations where he connects to the local farming and artisanal food business community. His approach to cooking is simple. He is a passionate advocate for promoting diverse food representative of Toronto multicultural communities. He believes and advocates for access to good quality food for everyone.
Currently, Bashir serves his community as a Value-Added Program Coordinator at Black Creek Community Farm, culinary professor at George Brown College, food consultant/recipe developer, volunteer at Black Food Sovereignty Toronto, and an academic researcher.
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Nicholus (Nick) Nurse is a steadfast advocate for both the Black and 2SLGBTQ+ communities. Nick has been a proud mentor with Onyx, an initiative to elevate and prepare Black professionals for roles in corporate Canada. In addition to this, he has also lent his support to TENT, a non-profit organization dedicated to the upliftment of the 2SLGBTQ+/refugee community.
His work on behalf of Indigenous communities and other visible minorities is also recognition of his commitment to a better, unified Canada. His impetus to uplift underserved communities comes from a place of lived experience. As a bi-racial Black man, he knows what it is to strive to be the best yet, not recognized by institutions who fail to recognize Black individuals on a consistent basis for the value they bring.
Nick currently works as an Inclusion and Diversity Specialist at TD Bank and continues to advocate for the elevation of Black people across all industries. In his own words, ‘Until I see Black people at the top, my work is in full production to make that a reality within my lifetime.’
Connect with Nick: LinkedIn
Segun Akinsanya is a Canadian-Nigerian entrepreneur, mentor and non-profit leader who has used his story of tragedy to remind young people of the promise of new beginnings. After losing his mom at eight years old, Segun got caught up in street gangs at a young age, eventually leading him to spend some time incarcerated. During this time, Segun had an epiphany to inspire other young Black men to break free from the cycle of gang violence, trauma, and poverty.
Akinsanya has been a youth mentor for over a decade, sustaining policy change in the legal system, and creating youth engagement programs. He has transformed his life and the lives of others by building a non-profit called Bright Future Alliance, developing community programs in various neighborhoods. With a knack for community mobilization, Akinsanya has raised close to half a million dollars. He has since transitioned into supporting social enterprises building Scarborough First Immigrant for women in entrepreneurship as well as creating co-working spaces for other social enterprises and non-profits.
These experiences led to Segun working at North America’s second biggest grant funder to build the capacity of nonprofits. He has expanded his experience as a creator by doing story consulting for a Netflix show called Pretty Hard Cases for the last three seasons.
Now, Segun is currently working with Boys and Girls Club Scarborough piloting a gun intervention program with the outcome of reforming the bail process with the city and provincial justice centers. He has also founded his own urban agricultural business that supplies individuals and businesses with sustainably-sourced coconut coir. All around, Segun is a humble force to be reckoned with who stewards his time with a sense of dedication, passion and urgency that few have.
Paul Taylor is the executive director of FoodShare Toronto, a lifelong anti-poverty activist, and a champion for the right to food. Growing up materially poor in Toronto inspired Paul to commit his life to doing what he can to dismantle the systems of oppression that cause and uphold food insecurity and wealth inequality, including neoliberalism and white supremacy.
Paul has been named one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40, one of Toronto Life’s 50 Most Influential Torontonians and voted Best Activist by readers of NOW Magazine. Alongside his colleagues at FoodShare, Paul works to support community-led food infrastructure with the collective vision of a Toronto where everyone can feed themselves, their loved ones and their communities with dignity and with joy.
Paul’s experience also includes executive director roles at Gordon Neighbourhood House and the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House. He has chaired the British Columbia Poverty Reduction Coalition, served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and as Vice-Chair of Food Secure Canada. Paul teaches courses at Simon Fraser University, is a regular political commentator on CTV and has authored a range of op-eds and columns, including a four-part series for the Globe and Mail’s Leadership Lab on the role of non-profits in equity and social change. He is now leading impactful change in his new consulting business, Evenings and Weekends.
Phil G. Joseph
Phil is a young changemaker intent on leveraging technology and venture capital to create a better future for all.
After spending years intrigued by the technology he was using to work with athletes, Phil decided to transition from keeping athletes on the field, to keeping tech entrepreneurs in the game. In 2020 he founded Rep Matters, a platform to inspire and accompany the next generation of Black tech leaders. In 2021 he joined the Real Ventures investment team, while continuing to grow Rep Matters with the firm’s full support.
Phil is also engaged in his community via his positions as a board member of Black Health Alliance, as well as a board member of Relief, the Quebec-based mental health non-profit.
A gifted author and thought leader, Lawrence Hill is one of Canada’s most notable writers whose work has focused on the Black experience in Canada. Covering a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres, Lawrence Hill is the author of eleven books, including his most recent novel, Beatrice and Croc Harry (HarperCollins Canada, 2022).
Hill has won numerous awards, such as the National Magazine Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and Canada Reads. Over the years, his books have garnered major national attention, but it was his third novel, The Book of Negroes (HarperCollins Canada, 2007) that attracted widespread attention globally.
Hill is a professor of creative writing at the University of Guelph, in Ontario. He helped create the annual common reading program “Gryphons Read” featuring BIPOC and queer writers at the University of Guelph. Recently, in concert with Walls to Bridges, he taught a third-year undergraduate memoir writing course in the Grand Valley Institution for Women, a federal penitentiary in Kitchener, Ontario.
He is currently working on a novel about the African American soldiers who travelled to northern British Columbia and Yukon during World War II to help build The Alaska Highway. A member of the Order of Canada and recipient of ten honorary doctorates from Canadian universities, Hill lives with his family in Ontario and Newfoundland.
PK Subban is a recently retired NHL hockey player. Breaking barriers in a historically white male-dominated sport, Subban has changed the game for other young Black men in hockey through his outstanding performance and heartwarming presence off of the ice. He has played 13 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) with the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, and New Jersey Devils. Subban also has been in front of the screen as an analyst for the NHL on ESPN.
He now dedicates his time to his work as a philanthropist and anti-racism advocate.
Nkosi Phanord has contributed greatly to the creative spheres in Montreal and abroad. He is a brand strategist, creative consultant, and videographer who has worked with various media entities, commercial companies, and production companies in Canada and the United States.
Phanord strives on implicating his community in all aspects of his work and is a strong leader in the creative realm. He stands by the idea that we as Black people should own our own means of production and shares his knowledge with other entrepreneurs, creatives, and community enthusiasts alike.
He has worked tirelessly and made great efforts to connect both the English and French speaking Black community within Montreal. This has opened the doors for great networking, business and funding opportunities, as well as various creative endeavours, and the sharing of knowledge and information for and with both communities.
“I strongly believe it is not always those who are in the forefront who need highlighting, but those behind the scenes as well for they are the ones doing the groundwork and pushing us forward to a more prosperous and inclusive future.” – Nominee
The Markland “Jahiant” Campbell Community Dedication Award
This year, we are proud to present an additional award, named after of Markland “Jahiant” Campbell.
A true pillar of the hip-hop community in Ottawa, Campbell was known for songs like “Why They Shoot Them Youth”. Marland lost his life three years ago to the same violence he preached against. The long-time Ottawa hip-hop artist was murdered in Ottawa after defending his daughter who was being harassed by a group of young men.
We are honoured to celebrate and honour his life as an outstanding Black man in Canada. The Markland “Jahiant” Campbell Community Dedication Award winner was chosen by Campbell’s family as a key figure in the local community who promotes values of peace, unity, and love.
Rest in power to Jahiant.
Winner of The Markland “Jahiant” Campbell Community Dedication Award: Bishop Caston C Johnson
Bishop Caston C. Johnson is a Canadian-Jamaican retired clergyman. Known as a father figure to both his family and the larger community, he has been married over 50 years and is the proud father of five children and several grand and great-grandchildren. Along with his wife, Gazeta, they have led a 48-year ministry, having spent the last two decades as an appointed bishop in Ottawa. Their passion and zeal for God are tremendous assets to their ministry and to the body of Christ.
“Bishop Johnson humbly gives all praises to God, thanks to his loving wife Gazeta for her unwavering commitment, his children and extended family and all those who laboured alongside his ministry through the years.” – Nominee
We hope you enjoyed reading about these incredible, outstanding Black men in Canada as much as we enjoyed compiling this list. Be sure to follow each of them online to stay up to date on the work they are doing!