Durham College events aim to inspire and empower Black youth

Durham College (DC) welcomed more than 800 Black students from the Durham District School Board (DDSB) in April for two days of engagement, empowerment and exploration.

The Cypher: Black Male Empowerment Conference, returned for its fourth year, and the Empower Her conference for Black females, was held at DC for the first time. The two events gave students in Grades 7 to 10 the opportunity to connect with entrepreneurs, community leaders and organizations through interactive workshops, engaging discussions and networking sessions to help inspire and educate them about post-secondary options.

“We are proud to welcome these young Black students to Durham College to help them connect to their inherent value, build key relationships, and expose them to a wide range of post-secondary opportunities particularly within the field of STEM as part of our RISE Resilient programming,” said Dr. Sadie K. Goddard-Durant, Director, Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at DC.

Deminion, a Grade 7 student who attended The Cypher conference, said the workshops were fun and innovative. “We had to work together, have perseverance, and always have trust in your brothers,” he said.

At the Empower Her conference, student Lyric said she enjoyed the keynote speaker, Quisha Wint, a musician, singer and artist. She said the opening session made her feel good about herself. “They mentioned how much we were queens. It was very inspiring.”

The event aligns with the DDSB’s vision of students experiencing joyful experiences which lead to self-determination, self-liberation and for them to achieve anything they desire, said Kokhulani Yasodaran, Anti-Oppression Facilitator at the DDSB.

“We know that the systemic barriers these students and their families face due primarily to anti-Black racism and sexism adversely impact their access to postsecondary education, and ultimately their abilities to reach their full potential as leaders, problem solvers and innovators in society,” added Goddard-Durant. “By providing a safe space to explore their educational and career pathways we are exposing them to what future is possible for them to achieve.”