Uche-Ezeala nominated for women of inspiration series awards
As part of its vision towards inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold, Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Bouchier, Canada, has announced IJ Uche-Ezeala as the final nominee of the 2021-2022 Women of Inspiration Series.
The Women of Inspiration Series recognises local women who break gender stereotypes, create positive change and advocate for women and girls’ rights and opportunities.
Uche-Ezeala has been chosen by the committee for her tireless efforts in breaking race and gender stereotypes and providing opportunities for women and children – particularly girls – to thrive. She is also passionate about promoting the region and encouraging people to live.
Uche-Ezeala has been a champion for women and girls in many ways, such as a motivational speaker and a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters. She has also helped to organise the Conversation Cafés, where visible minorities in the Wood Buffalo region could express their concerns in a survey. The survey results encouraged the June 2021 motion by council to increase the number of members on the Regional Advisory Committee on Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (RACIDE) from five to nine in order to improve diversity of experience and expertise.
In her 20 years working in a corporate environment, Uche-Ezeala was once the only woman of a visible minority in management. During this time, she was bullied and undermined, even once arriving at her office to find a racial statement had been written on her whiteboard. After having the incident brushed off, she went to Calgary to speak to the Vice President, which led to her working with Human Resources to promote an anti-bullying policy.
“We are very diverse, but the bigger question is, how inclusive are we to accommodate and appreciate our differences? Let’s stop the hate and be humane,” says Uche-Ezeala.
In 2016, when she returned to the region after the Horse River Wildfire, Uche-Ezeala noticed children and youth in the community were experiencing academic gaps. To help them build a solid academic foundation, she began Kumon Math and Reading Centre – an after-school enrichment programme providing individual lesson plans and support for kids.
When asked why she chose the transition into working with youth, she said she hopes to make it one of her legacies, to see kids excel academically, unlock their potential while building positive lifetime skills. It’s the ‘aha! Moments’ on the faces of the kids that are priceless to know that each kid, has gained mastery on a topic.
Uche-Ezeala’s work with Kumon goes beyond bridging academic gaps. When her students reach employment age and are interested, She offers work opportunities while encouraging them to pursue further education and experience.
She will join four other Women of Inspiration nominees to be honoured on March 19 at VOICES: Women of Inspiration Celebration 2022 — Together, we can amplify.
Canadian Anishinaabe artist, Sarain Fox, an indigenous youth empowerment activist, host of RISE on Viceland and Future History, will headline this event.
Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta
Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta (Girls Inc.) inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through direct service and advocacy. Our comprehensive approach to whole girl development equips girls to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers to grow up healthy, educated, and independent.
Girls Inc. has been serving the Wood Buffalo Region since 2004, growing our reach every year. In 2021, Girls Inc. was able to connect with 1500 girls from Conklin to Fort Chipewyan. The girls-only, physically and emotionally safe environment where girls discover their strengths, find their voice and become agents of change.
Bouchier is a leader in integrated site services, 100% local, indigenous owned. With more than 20 years operating in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region, they specialise in both Civil and Facility Maintenance & Construction as well as provide project management solutions.
Committed to a strong safety record and family focused culture, Bouchier believes in the importance of always being a good neighbour. Not only does the company have long standing loyal clients, it also invests time getting to know their stakeholders at all levels.
They honour their roots proudly with community investments that create lasting change for their team members, indigenous people and the communities where they live and work.