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Adebola Adefioye: I love helping immigrants find their voices in Canada

By Esther Ijewere
27 August 2022   |   4:15 am
Smart, compassionate, innovative and driven are few words that describe Canada-based Child Development Practitioner, Adebola Adefioye. She is very passionate about building authentic relationships with racialised, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) children
Adebola Adefioye


Smart, compassionate, innovative and driven are few words that describe Canada-based Child Development Practitioner, Adebola Adefioye. She is very passionate about building authentic relationships with racialised, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) children, families and communities, collaborating with them to reduce inequities, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and improve mental-health and wellness.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development from Seneca College, Master’s degree in Child and Youth Care from Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) and a Certificate in Advancing Women’s Conflict Transformation and Peace Building for Community Development from Coady Institute, Canada. She is also a final semester student in a Graduate Certificate programme in Mental Health Intervention (MHI).

Adebola works for a provincial non-profit agency on a project that focuses on understanding the impact of COVID-19 on racialised mothers and educators in Ontario; a project that will inform recommendations for feminist, childcare, and family programs policies in Ontario, Canada. The passionate advocate is also the founder of the Afro Women and Youth Foundation, a non-profit organisation providing leadership, empowerment and mentorship to Black immigrant women and youth in Toronto and Sudbury, Ontario.

Adebola has won many awards, including nine different leadership, academic and community awards at Seneca College; the United Way Greater Toronto Black Leadership award in 2020; Ontario Premier’s Award in Recent Graduate Category in 2021 among others. Her strongest desire is to see more racialised women and youth stand up for themselves; participate in leadership positions and support each other.

She shares her inspiring journey in this interview with ESTHER IJEWERE on how she is using her skills and knowledge to help new immigrants stand up to racial discrimination.

Childhood Influence
I think my childhood contributed to what I am doing today. I learned a lot of things from my parents; both of them worked very hard to provide for their children and my mum volunteered a lot at our local church and encouraged all her children to do the same.

My late father was very hardworking. He had started working in one of the top banks in Nigeria before I was born and he retired as a senior officer after 28 years of service. My mum was a teacher. I learned hard work, honesty, and contentment from both of my parents.

Being A Certified Child Development Practitioner, And Working With Women And Families In Different Settings In Canada
I enjoy helping people in any way that I can. I started community development work in Nigeria and I thought I could do more of it in Canada, so I registered a non-profit offering leadership, mentorship and empowerment programmes to Black immigrant women and youth. We have recently added public education and training around Anti-racism, Gender-based Violence and Advocacy to our work.

My Passion For Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity And Inclusion (EDI) And It’s Impact One Me As A Black Woman
Yes, I offer training on ABR and EDI. I think the work has enlightened me a lot more about the degree of social injustices we have around the world, how colonialism and capitalism continue to shape our lives daily.

While the inequity issues persist, I am glad to be one of the people raising their voices against oppression and encouraging others to do so.

Inspiration Behind Afro Women And Youth Foundation
My daughter’s school experience of Anti-Black Racism as a newcomer to Canada inspired the work I do at AWYF. I was amazed at how her teacher did not offer any support during the period. My husband and I provided her all the support and taught her strategies to self-advocate. She later developed confidence and started demonstrating leadership skills.

At Grade 5, she won the award for the Most Confident Child in her class and later won the Principal’s Leadership Award in Grade 8. I still wonder what would have happened if not for our intervention as parents and educators. My daughter’s experience led me to start the AWYF to help other people experiencing ABR.

It has been very challenging to access sustainable funding. I am so proud and grateful for the amazing team members that have been volunteering their time at the AWYF since we started. The team will definitely do more if we had sustainable funding.

While we continue to submit applications for multi-year programme funding, we are extremely grateful for organisations like the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities, CEE Centre For Young Black Professionals, Seneca HELIX, Troop, City of Greater Sudbury, COSTI Immigrant Services, and Catherine Donnelly Foundation who have supported us in kind and with some funding.

Winning Different Leadership, Academic And Community Awards At Seneca College, Canada
I worked very hard as a student at Seneca. My academic was a priority, but I also strengthened my leadership skills. I mentored other students; I was an Early Childhood Educator tutor at the Learning Centre. I started a Resilient Club for women and I completed the Student Life Leadership program. I am constantly seeking opportunities for personal growth and development.

I was nominated for some of those awards and I got some, because of my GPA and community work on campus.

I have also recently won the Ontario Premier’s Award and Catherine Howe Award at Toronto Metropolitan University. The CHA award is for an outstanding Child and Youth Care Practitioner.

My Thoughts On The Profiling Of Black Women And How They Can Be Supported
The profiling of black women stems from the history of slavery, colonisation, racial segregation, and marginalisation. One way to reduce the profiling of black women is for advocates, women leaders, researchers and educators to continue to research and uncover the inequities affecting black and indigenous women and girls, and demand accountability from the system.
Supporting Women In Nigeria With Seed Funds To Support Their Work And Families
The seed fund we raised from Nigerians here and provided in 2020 was a pilot project for our work in Nigeria. One of the things we identified was a need for stronger collaborations with existing organisations working on social issues that are similar to our work and willing to commit to an ongoing evaluation that identifies program outcomes. These lessons will shape our work in Nigeria in the future.

Coordinating Focus Groups For Women Whose Means Of Livelihood Was Affected Due To COVID-19
Women and Gender Equality (WAGE) project is a province-wide project that seeks to build relationships with racialised mothers and educators, understand how the ongoing pandemic and racism affects them and collaborate with them to create programme recommendations for policymakers across Ontario. It has been a huge learning process for everyone on the project team.

We are all very excited about this project and some of the things we are hearing from the consultations is that people are happy that we have created a safe and brave space for them to share their experiences.

Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
My mum, pastor Nike Adeyemi and Josephine Muhaya. These are all women who have continued to break barriers, and create opportunities for other women through their work.

Advice For A Woman On The Verge Of Giving Up Due To Marginalisation
I’ll advise that they hold on, continue to find inner-strengths. Ask for help, focus on things that bring joy and practice gratitude. Most of the time, things will eventually get better if we don’t give up. I have been in that position and I am happy I did not give up.

My Work-Life Balance Routine
Relaxing with my family and weekend self-care routine.

Being A Woman Of Rubies
My passion to see other women’s lives improve and actions taken daily to see it become a reality.


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