Last year we asked readers to tell us who their heroes were in the black community.
We want you to add to the list. Who are your heroes? Why? Write your answers in the comment section below.
Here are some of the entries into our Who Is Your Hero contest in honour of Black History Month. Enjoy! You'll see that some people are famous and some are famous in their own families. We love it all...
My hero is Cameron Bailey, Co Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. He is a world leader in film curation, film review writing, and has been personally responsible for finding some of the world's greatest films that would otherwise have gone unnoticed ("Slumdog Millionaire" among his many finds!) We are lucky to have such an articulate and skilled negotiator and visionary. Proud of his black roots and a towering presence in the Canadian and world stage, and a good friend. - Andrew Fedosov
In 1970 the first black RCMP member from Nova Scotia joined the force -- Mr. Clarence Bodden of Yarmouth. - Kathilee Porter
A man who has been able to put his story into words so that others can relate, celebrate, empathize and dance. - Liz Haines
She is a playwright and actress most famously known for 'Harlem Duet' which won a number of awards including 4 Dora Mavor Moore Awards. She has always been active in the community and is now a professor at York University. I went to school with her and have always been a huge fan both of her as a professional and as a person of integrity and honour. - Andrew Lewarne
Host of CBC radio's Metro Morning. Great interviewer. Kind, thoughtful and insightful. Good sense of humour. When I listen to the program it makes me proud to be Canadian. - Jain Dickson
Willie O'Ree - (2 people nominated him)
I would nominate Willie O'Ree. He was the first Black player in the NHL. He's a big celebrity here
in Fredericton and the city named an arena in his honour. Very happy to have a place that honours
him, his achievements and his continuing work with the NHL. It's reassuring to know my kids
who skate at this arena will know this part of our province's history. - Myfanwy Davies
Mr. Stewart Jarvis and Mrs. Marvie Jarvis
I cannot decide between the two. They have been married for over 50 years, have raised 4 wonderful children and epitomize all that it is to be Canadian. They are my father-in-law and mother-in-law. They are Black Canadians by nature of their skin colour. They call themselves Canadian. They can both trace their Canadian heritage back more than 200 years, primarily in Nova Scotia. They are the most Canadian people I have ever met. They welcomed me into their family 23 years ago with open arms. They have supported me, loved me and are the best grand parents a mother could wish for. They inspire, they love, they have shown me what family is all about. - Linda Jarvis
Mary Ann Shadd
She was the first woman publisher in North America, establishing the Provincial Freeman, an abolitionist newspaper, with Rev. Ringgold Ward in 1853. Born in 1823 in Delaware, she moved to Canada in 1851, where she opened an integrated school. After the American Civil War she returned to teaching in the United States, and became the first woman to enroll in Howard University law school. - Victoria Donnelly
He was a civil rights activist who aggressively took on police and media over the treatment of black people. He was a "trail blazer" who took on the plight of many black citizens and brought it to the attention of the mainstream society. He had passed away last year but is still remembered in the hearts of many. I believe he was influential in my life because he changed the way I look at the lives of all people and how important every individual is to our society. - Roman Pejko
Harry Jerome - Mary Lou Ruffolo
Edna Emaline Walcott
My hero is my grandmother Edna Emaline Walcott of St. James Barbados. She sang everyday if you can help someone as you pass along then your living shall not be in vain. She quoted daily the words of the Barbados national anthem. "We write our names on history's page with expectations great." She also said, "if you can't stand up for yourself, stand up for someone else." - Itah Sadu
Alexander Sylvester Markham
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Alexander Sylvester Markham, General Superindendent and Bishop of the British Methodist Episcopal Church - The Rev. Dr. A.S. Markham was principally responsible for the growth of the British Methodist Episcopal Church following the Second World War. Serving as Bishop and General Superintendent for an unprecedented 20 years, Markham initially was instrumental in assisting soldiers returning home from the war through the Negro Citizenship Association, and ultimately succeeded in assisting that organization's efforts to have the Federal Government open its immigration applications to people of African descent. By the mid 1960’s there was an influx of Caribbean people to Canada, some of who entered as visitors or domestic workers but subsequently applied for landed status, resulting in a huge backlog in the processing of the applications and forcing the Canadian government to grant an amnesty. Many of these new Canadians entered the labour force as domestics and labourers, but many also arrived and found work as nurses, teachers and other professionals. Both the church and the newcomers benefited from this migration, and their integration into Canada was assisted by their being welcomed in worship into an unfamiliar environment within a very familiar religion. Through the B.M.E., these new Canadians met people who had arrived before and had the same experiences in adjusting to Canadian life. Many of the newcomers had no other community ties in Canada prior to arrival, nor did they have any family or other connections. Some worked six days a week, lived in the homes of their employers and could not seek employment elsewhere until they had served their employer for at least one year. The church set up programs for these new arrivals, which took place particularly on Thursday and Sunday evenings. The programs were social, educational and recreational in nature and they assisted immensely to the integration of the newcomers to Canadian life. In 1972, to show appreciation for the dynamic leadership of their Pastor and General Superintendent, the members of B.M.E. voted unanimously to install a plaque at BME Christ Church St. James (North East corner of Eglinton Ave. West and Dufferin St in Toronto) honouring the Rt. Rev. Dr. A.S. Markham as “Father of Our Church, Under God.” - James Calnan
One of my heroes is my grandmother, Alice Darrell. She was a very strong and fearless black woman. She emigrated from Bermuda to Canada in the late 1940’s with my grandfather. She wanted to provide her children with education opportunities that were not available in Bermuda at that time. She raised seven children while running her own corset business out of her home. She was THE original entrepreneur. She had an open door, drop in any time policy with anyone and everyone. And was a source of strength and inspiration and wisdom to me. She always had time for me no matter what. And made some mean fried chicken and cod fish cakes! I miss her terribly. - Cheryl Ann Darrell
Shivani and Camelia
My heroes are two of my students named Shivani and Camelia. They are the only children in my class who identify as having African Heritage. When February rolls around I can see how much this means to them. Our discussions about Black History are all the richer for their participation. During this month they show how much the validation of Black History means to them, it shines in their eyes, you hear it in their speech and you see it in their step. It's a small thing, but knowing how much it means to them, makes it all the more meaningful for the rest of the class. - Tina Tatone
I nominate Michaëlle Jean. She is the first black Canadian Governer General and is a Canadian journalist and stateswomen. Michaëlle is a refugee from Haiti who was raised in Quebec. She has worked for large Canadian companies and been a role model to all. - Dawne Kostashuk
I vote for William Hubbard, Toronto's first black councillor, who led more than 100 civic initiatives and helped develop Toronto Hydro. - Kerry Johnston
I would have to say Viola Desmond is my hero on a number of fronts. Not only because of her pivotal fight for equality in the late 1940's, which is drive enough to be strong and persistent in my goals and dreams on a daily basis. Also, outside of that fight, she herself was strong and driven in her everyday life. When I think of a woman owning and operating her own beauty school in that time period, that in itself is an incredible feat...! In my life, indirectly I face similar obstacles: corporate politics at work, lack of enough driven people to surround yourself with these days...:)......inability of financial support from my parents/mom on her own for any venture I may need that support on, and then every other institution needing you to basically have the entire cost of a venture in order to support you, the challenges are real and mountain-high. Without any real support out there, its hard to stay focused on your goals and dreams. Viola's story tells me I can be whomever I want to, as long as I stay focussed and constant in improving myself and putting myself in a position to win. Her example grounds me in my beliefs of equal rights, and treating everyone with respect, and most importantly, her drive teaches me the importance of paving the way for the next generation and becoming an inspiration to those after me, of any race, colour or creed. - Eden Jordan
Richard Pierpoint was a hero of the War of 1812. At the age of 68, he was part of an all-black militia that helped defend the Niagara Peninsula from American invasion 200 years ago. Without heroes such as him, we wouldn't have Canada today. - J Rebecca Sider
- Want more for your kids? Watch what some TVOKids kids have to say about the people they admire the most for Black History Month.