Celebrating Excellence: Recap of the Young Black Changemaker Awards 2024

The Young Black Changemaker Awards 2024, hosted by the Black Business Professionals Network New Brunswick Inc. (BBPN) at the Willie O’Ree Community Center, Fredericton, NB, on March 30, 2024, marked a significant milestone in our community’s journey towards diversity, inclusion, and empowerment. It also served as a beacon of inspiration and celebration of Black’s Future to build.


This transformative event emerged from the impactful community engagement initiative, EmpowerNB AntiRacism programs for Youth, held on February 23-24, 2024, at The Junction at Venn Innovation Center, sponsored by CRRF, and in collaboration with Pure Gold Foundation, Association Initiatives Afro-canadiennes du Nouveau-Brunswick (AIAC-NB)/ Afro Canadian Initiative Association of New-Brunswick (ACIA-NB), and Groupe 3737 Moncton NB, during BBPN’s Black Heritage Month 2024. This initiative unearthed the profound need for mentorship and the vital importance of amplifying narratives that honor and celebrate young Black individuals, inspiring the inception of an event dedicated to celebrating the resilience of Black Youth in New Brunswick.


Aligned with the Canadian theme for Black History Month 2024,“Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build,” these awards heralded the achievements of extraordinary individuals aged 15 to 30 in Academics, Entrepreneurship, Artistic Visionary, Environmental Stewardship, Innovation Leadership, Digital Innovation, Community Excellence, Resilience and Overcoming Adversity, and Community Leadership Excellence & Impact.


The Young Black Changemaker Awards 2024 unfolded as a night of profound significance, led by Emcee Jovial Orlachi Osundu, a Bilingual President renowned for her contributions to L’Association des étudiantes et des et internationaux du campus Universitaire de Moncton (AÉÉICUM) and recognized among the 30 under 30 Francophones to watch in New Brunswick, the event was a fusion of inspiration, celebration, and acknowledgment. Kicked off by an opening remark by GNB’s Post Secondary Education, Training and Labour Deputy Minister, Dan Mills, the event resonated with the importance of diversity and inclusion in fostering community growth.


From stirring musical performances to heartfelt award presentations, the ceremony showcased young changemakers’ talent, resilience, and dedication across New Brunswick. It was a momentous occasion that united us in honoring the achievements and aspirations of those breaking barriers and effecting change.


A highlight of the evening was the Leadership Legacy Heroes Award Category, moderated by Aniekan Etuhube, a Journalist at CBC New Brunswick, and presented by Deputy Minister Daniel Mills, which honored Ralph Thomas, Phylomène Zangio, and Wilie O Ree for their indelible contributions to Black History, Community Advocacy, and Sports & Inclusion, respectively.

Their contributions epitomized the essence of driving positive change through history preservation, advocacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

Baba Shabazz, originally named Joel Nathanael MacPherson, the Co-CEO of The BlackRose Nation, Kingston NB delivered an enlightening presentation on the Economic Sustainability of the Black Ecosystem, emphasizing the importance of mentorship for Black youth in areas such as agriculture, cultural farming, and community leadership.

Further enriching the evening, Hannah Jackson, from the Federation of African Canadian Economist (FACE) Coalition, journeyed from Halifax to enlighten attendees about the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund—a catalyst for wealth creation and empowerment within the Black community—underscoring opportunities for Black Youth or entrepreneurs in any industry to access up to $250,000 to nurture their ventures. 

Special thanks to the FACE Coalition for their sponsorship of the BBPN Entrepreneurial Spirit Award category, presented to Feyrous Beserat, founder of FAR AWAY food business, for her entrepreneurial prowess in showcasing Eritrean, Mexican, and Syrian cuisines at the Queens Farmers Market.

Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub Survey, contributing to the community’s goal of achieving $1 billion in funding.

Furthermore, the event unveiled the Ralph Thomas Legacy Award, an annual initiative starting in 2025 to celebrate the achievements of Black Businesses, Professionals, and Youths across New Brunswick.

We extend heartfelt gratitude to the nominees, jurors, sponsors, and supporters whose generosity and commitment made this event possible. Special thanks to the Government of New Brunswick’s Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, Dream Legacy Foundation, New Brunswick Black History Society, PRUDE Inc., all Black Businesses who donated in-kind towards the project, and all community partners for their unwavering support throughout Black History Month and the Award Ceremony.

As we reflect on this remarkable evening and the exceptional individuals honored at the Young Black Changemaker Awards 2024, let us continue to celebrate excellence, uplift one another, and collectively strive towards a more inclusive and equitable future.

Thank you to our sponsors and supporters for making this celebration of excellence possible.


Award Name


Leadership Legacy Heroes Category – Moderated by Aniekan Etuhube, Presented by Dep. Minister Daniel Mills


Leadership Legacy in Black History, Heritage & Education

Ralph Thomas 

Leadership Legacy of Inspiration in Sports & Inclusion

Wilie O Ree 

Leadership Legacy in Community Advocacy, Justice & Human Rights 

Phylomène Zangio


Leadership in Entrepreneurship & Artistic Impact Category, Moderated by Bolaji Akintola & Presented by Hannah Jackson, FACE Coalition

Artistic Visionary Award 1

Sydona Chandon

Artistic Visionary Award 2

Lea Muhigi

Community Excellence Award

Oluwafemi (David) Ojo-Abegunde

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award 

Feyrous Beserat

Innovation and Leadership Excellence Impact Category Moderated by Sophia Etuhube, Presented by Presented  by Phylomène Zangio, & Thandiwe McCarthy

Digital Innovation Award

Hillary Leblanc

Digital Innovation Award

Kolawole Ojo

Digital Innovation Award

Kalkidan Burke

Community Leadership Excellence Award

Christabel Ugolo

Dream Legacy Foundation’s Innovation Trailblazer Award

Sophie Eruokwu

Character Building , Dedication & Community Stewardship Impact Category – Moderated by  Ogorchukwu Ugolo & Chisom Ezeh, presented by Ralph Thomas

Ralph Thomas’ Advocacy Champion Award

Brittany Ewart

Environmental Stewardship Award

Esther Ibang

Willie O’ Ree’s – Resilience and Overcoming Adversity Award 

Treyton Middleton

Community Impact Award

Jovial Orlachi Osundu

Outstanding Service Award

Ovunda Green

Outstanding Service Award

Sochi Azuh


Photos from the event follow:


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