Veronica Merryfield, an established EDI community leader, originally from England, moved to Cape Breton in 2016. Formally educated in electronic engineering, she has worked around the world in a number of markets both in engineering, sales, marketing, support, management and c-level as well as teaching part time at Dal. Veronica’s journey to womanhood is a road less travelled and identifies as intersex and transgender, it’s a long story, as is her journey with neurodiversity. Drawing from her lived experiences, Veronica’s public speaking and EDI training/consultancy is in demand locally and further afield. Veronica is also getting her musical instrument making and teaching business going again, something of a 40 year passion. She is board chair for the Every Woman’s Center, Transition House, CBRM diversity committee, Cape Breton Center for Sexual Health, Conversion Therapy Survivors Connect, Marion Bridge School advisory Council, and is a member of the Status of Women Advisory Council, Cape Breton Pride board and the CBRM Accessibility committee. She has worked successfully to get changes to legislation and routinely works with the Department of Health and Wellness on Gender affirming care. She is the founder of Cape Breton Transgender Network. Veronica has two daughters and four grandchildren, plays bass guitar and keyboards, and is a writer, photographer and partial to a decent cup of tea.
Robyn Lee Seale
Robyn Lee Seale is the Diversity & Inclusion Lead for the Cape Breton Redevelopment Project (Build Nova Scotia); in other words, she is paid to develop race and gender theory for the island’s construction industry. Her professional background is in economic development, with a focus on connecting businesses to talent. In her spare time, she works with a local theatre to develop its programming for underrepresented voices. Earlier this month, she shot a mini-pilot fictionalizing life as a Black woman in Cape Breton.
Ivan Okello is a first-generation immigrant from Uganda, East Africa currently based in the Siknikt district of the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq, a city also known as Moncton, NB.
Ivan currently serves as the Project Manager of Antiracism Initiatives at the New Brunswick Multicultural Council (NBMC). He previously served as the Co-chair of the President’s Taskforce on Diversity and Inclusion at Mount Allison University.
Ivan’s educational background includes among others Gender studies, International Development and Antiracism/decolonization. He has previously worked in post-secondary institutions and non-profits.
Ivan is an educator and storyteller who believes in using education as a medium for bridging social inequities and advancing social change. His goal is to live in a society free of injustice.
Ivan is passionate about building bridges across diverse communities and ensuring that society/organizations are (re)designed to serve and cultivate everyone’s potential.
Shakira Weatherdon, MC
Shakira is a respected trainer with nearly a decade of experience in sexualized violence, equity and inclusion. She provides subject matter expertise and leads the implementation of equity-related programs and services at Labour, Skills and Immigration as Executive Director, Engagement, Equity and Belonging. She is also the founder of Black Girls Gather, a non-profit with a mission to equip young, Black women entrepreneurs with the tools, strategies and networks they need to build and scale up successful ventures and attaching new Black women graduates to meaningful employment opportunities in the Atlantic Region. Her passions include supporting organizations to create safer, more welcoming, and inclusive environments and cultivating Black Girl Magic and Black Boy Joy. Shakira received her MA in Gender and Peacebuilding from the United Nations mandated University for Peace and her Honors Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Development Studies from the University of Toronto.
Precious Familusi – MC
Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Precious has spent most of his life living in different countries around the world, before making Newfoundland and Labrador his home. He is very passionate about supporting black-owned businesses and his community.
Precious is a community organizer committed to combating anti-black racism, creating a clearer pathway to permanent residency for immigrants, accessible education, and community building. Upon graduating from Memorial University Faculty of Business Administration, He was the winner of the Leslie Thoms Convocation award for Leadership and was chosen as one of the Heroes of 2020 by ‘The Telegram” for his work within the community. He has had the opportunity to be a member of Canadian Federation of Student National Black Caucus, a student leader, chair of the Nigerian Canadian Association of NL publicity committee and speak at various events across Newfoundland and Labrador
He is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter NL and host of Out of the Fog on Rogers TV. He strives to impact black youths within his community through his volunteer work.
Precious is a conversationalist who loves networking and making new connections. An avid musician, movie lover and soccer fan, he can be found either banging on his drums at his church, binge-watching Netflix or watching the best football club in the world – Arsenal.