CHARLA JONES/torstar news service


Jean Augustine will receive a Harry Jerome Award on Saturday.

This Saturday the Black Business and Professional Association’s Harry Jerome Awards turns 25.

The awards are an annual spectacle to honour influential members of the African-Canadian community, who have made significant contributions to areas like leadership, athletics, business, community service, health sciences, arts, media and entertainment.

“Award recipients are selected from among Canada-wide nominees recommended by business and professional colleagues, teachers, relatives and friends,” says BBPA president Audrey Walters.

The awards honour Harry Jerome, an Olympic track and field runner who persevered despite physical and racial challenges to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1966 despite being told he’d never run again after sustaining a critical injury. He was also a community advocate, scholar and leader.

As part of this year’s line-up the first six athletes to receive Harry Jerome Awards in athletics in 1983 will be in attendance, and Governor General Michaëlle Jean will be the evening’s keynote speaker.

Among this year’s award recipients is Tolulope (Tolu) Taiwo Shannon Quadri, who will receive an award for leadership. Since the age of 10 she has been garnering the attention of her peers, educators and community members through her volunteerism and academic excellence.

“The first step to leadership is overcoming the challenges on your own path,” she says, adding her future plans include a master’s degree in both education and social work.

Quadri participated in the Jamaica Project, a partnership between the Centre of Early Childhood Development and George Brown College where she taught in Jamaica. She is also a youth advice columnist for the youth newspaper, One80.

Fifteen awards will be given out this year. Recipients include gymnast Britnee Habbib from the Canadian National Team for athletics, Farley Flex for arts, media and entertainment and Jean Augustine, the first African-Canadian woman elected to parliament, for trailblazing.

Previous award winner Dwayne Morgan, president of Up From The Roots Entertainment, events producer, educator and spoken word artist will also beat the Harry Jerome Awards this year as part of the event’s entertainment lineup along with 2007 Juno award-winning group Jacksoul.

For more details on this year’s Awards visit