Celebrate outstanding Black women at Ryerson
Nominations for the 13th annual Viola Desmond Awards are now open! If you know a Black woman connected to Ryerson who has been a positive role model and/or advocate of the Black/African-Canadian community, we invite you to submit a nomination.
Five award recipients chosen each year
Awards are given each year to a Ryerson student, faculty, staff, alumna and a local high school student (who is in their final academic year with plans to attend post-secondary education after graduation). Both the Ryerson student and high school recipient are also awarded $500.
Nominees must self-identify as a woman and as Black/African-Canadian or have Black/African-Canadian ancestry. She must be an active leader in her community, with examples to showcase the positive difference she has made in areas such as equity, diversity, inclusion, human rights and social justice. All nominees must agree to be nominated. Review the full Viola Desmond Awards criteria and nomination process.
Nominators will be required to provide a letter up to 500 words in length and supporting documentation and submit by January 31, 2021.
Save the date
Award recipients will be celebrated at a virtual celebration on March 22, 2021 in honour of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (which takes place annually on March 21). Please mark your calendars!
Who was Viola Desmond?
Viola Desmond was a Black/African-Nova Scotian entrepreneur and activist whose fight for civil rights involved one of the most publicized incidents of racial discrimination in Canadian history. On November 8, 1946, Desmond refused to sit in the balcony designated exclusively for Blacks in New Glasgow’s Roseland Theatre, and instead took her seat on the ground floor where only White people were permitted. In 2018, she was selected for the new $10 bank note as a symbol of resilience, resistance and courage to push boundaries by challenging the status quo.
Named in Desmond’s honour, Ryerson’s Viola Desmond Awards and Bursary Program promotes Black excellence and shines a light on exceptional Black women and students in our community. The program is administered by the Black History Awareness Committee at Ryerson.
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-979-5379.
Image (from left to right): Viola Desmond; 2018 student award recipient Susanne Nyaga; 2019 faculty award recipient Dr. Karline Wilson-Mitchell; 2020 high school recipient Huda Nur; and 2020 alumni award recipient Namugenyi Kiwanuka.