Three Barbadian women honoured in Canada for their contributions
The Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) presented it’s Women of Honour awards in Toronto, Canada and out of the 7 women honoured, 3 were Barbadians:
- Harriet Thornhill, Community/Youth Advocate, Former Chair, BBPA National Scholarship Fund – As President/ Eastern Caribbean, Caribbean Banking, RBC Ms. Thornhill is responsible for leading the implementation of strategies and activities focused on enhancing and sustaining client loyalty and growth; employee capability and engagement; and outcome-based sales management practices.
Ms. Thornhill is based in Barbados and works closely with the Caribbean Banking Head Office team in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in addition to her direct report teams in Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent/Bequia. Her leadership is instrumental in leading the EC team through the integration of RBC and RBTT in the region.
Ms. Thornhill was born in Barbados and spent most of her career in Montréal, Quebec and Toronto, Ontario.
In her 25-plus years at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Ms. Thornhill has held a variety of senior leadership positions in Marketing, Recruitment, Client Experience Office, Leadership Training, and Sales Leadership. In her previous role, she was Regional Vice President in the Greater Toronto Region. Through her leadership, top-tier business results were achieved and sustained in East Brampton – the market for which she was responsible.
- Itah Sadu, Owner of A Different Booklist, Community Advocate – Itah Sadu is an internationally-known storyteller, author and keynote speaker. She is one of Canada’s best loved storytellers, and captures the imagination of children and adults alike, as she weaves her particular brand of “Stories of Our Time.” She credits the example and work ethic of her grandparents, Fitz Willoughby and Edna Walcott, entrepreneurs and community leaders in Colonial Barbados, for much of her inspiration and drive to succeed. Her other influences include Harold Hoyte – founder and publisher of the Barbados Nation, and the generations of market women that have consistently participated in economics.
Itah’s knowledge of community economic development, and her entrepreneurial background, led her to be one of the architects of the successful Fresh Elements and Fresh Arts program, which produced Canadian recording artists like Saukrates, Jully Black and Kardinal Offishall. She remains deeply involved in community development in her hometown of Toronto, has a solid background working with children, young adults, and educators, and likes to lay emphasis on the incontrovertible fact that Black woman are, and always have been, a driving force in any market economy.
A former Vice-President of the Black Business & Professional Association, Itah is the co-owner of the successful Canadian bookstore A Different Booklist, located in downtown Toronto. Her knowledge of the publishing industry as an author, and her entrepreneurial drive, have enabled Itah and her husband, Miguel San Vicente, to position the bookstore in a transformative role in society. In fact they have made A Different Booklist a household name in the Caribbean and African-Canadian communities.
- Ebonnie Rowe, Founder of Each One, Teach One and PhemPhat Entertainment Group – Throughout her career over the last 25 years, through her creative and artistic work in promoting dance, music, and song, Ebonnie Rowe has made a contribution to Canadian life and culture. She has also, through her volunteer work, contributed to the betterment of the society, distinguishing herself as a special talent dedicated to the growth of others and the support of charitable causes.
Ebonnie has founded and directed organisations that cater to the needs of some of society’s overlooked groups – the Each One, Teach One mentoring program for Black Youth and PhemPhat Entertainment Group, a dynamic, all-female company. Her work has earned her many awards, including a Special Achievement Award from the Urban Music Association of Canada and, most recently, the YWCA’s Women of Distinction Award.
While Ebonnie was studying English literature at the University of Toronto, a friend of hers committed suicide. The loss was, of course, devastating for Ebonnie; but, realising the shortness of life, and the silent despair suffered by many, she rebounded and took action. Determined to have a positive influence on the lives of others, she left school to co-found and direct a mentorship program, Each One Teach One (EOTO), which matched black youth with black professionals. EOTO was quite successful and would spin off into two smaller groups: Brother 2 Brother and Sista 2 Sista.
In 1995, she formed PhemPhat Entertainment Group, a non-profit company which produces the Honey Jam artist showcase, providing promotional, mentoring and educational opportunities for upcoming female artists as well as supporting and promoting women’s charities.
Ebonnie has distinguished herself as a special talent dedicated to the growth of others and the support of charitable causes.
- The BBPA Exchange is an educational and inspiring series of events designed to promote and encourage networking between professionals and entrepreneurs in a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere, and the Pre-Harry Jerome Awards Exchange is the BBPA’s first Exchange for 2011. The purpose of the Women of Honour Exchange is to honour and celebrate the achievements of Black women who pave the path for others in the community, to recognize the accomplishments of outstanding individuals who deserve to be recognized in collaboration with Women’s History Month. The Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) Board of Directors selected honourees who have done exceedingly well to advance and assist others and who stand as beacons of hope for other women.
Founded in 1983, the BBPA is a charitable organization whose mission is to advance Canada’s Black community by facilitating the delivery of programs that support business and professional excellence, higher education and economic development. The BBPA sponsors the Annual BBPA Harry Jerome Awards, the BBPA National Scholarship Fund, and the National Black Business & Professional Convention (NBBPC).