A celebration of Black student excellence

Graduating students feted with music, dance and words of inspiration at 2023 Black Grad

Students, professors, family members and friends gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of Black students graduating from McGill this year at the annual Black Grad event at the Omni Hotel on April 30. Over 100 people attended the ceremony and the sold-out gala celebration that followed, organized by the Black Students’ Network of McGill.

“A lesson that was truly reinforced that night is that greatness will always prevail in the face of adversity,” said Black Grad organizing committee member Bryana Jean-Jacques. “The confidence with which the grads walked that stage, ready to receive their Kente stoles, made it clear that they were fully prepared to become the future faces of Black excellence.”

Academic achievement and community leadership honoured

The event was an opportunity to highlight the achievements of three valedictorians Marie-Perle Nkosi, Ashley Jonassaint, and Julia Ayim. Also honoured were Gattuoch Kuon and Emily-Rose Njonde, recipients of the Audrea Golding Award for community leadership. Sociology major Njonde’s words about her time at McGill spoke to the academic rigour, the diverse opportunities for personal and professional development, and the precious friendships that were all part of her student experience.

“Being at McGill has given me the opportunity to be involved with diverse communities and participate in meaningful experiences that have thoroughly made me grow as a person,” Njonde said.

“Not only did I grow as an intellectual, as my professors and peers forced me to continuously push myself, but I also gained professional experiences during my time as an intern for Equitas as well as Audace au Féminin. I was also able to step out of my box and develop new skills as a voice actor, a moderator, a writer, and an advocator. These experiences, as well as the deep friendships I have been able to form, will surely impact the rest of my life. It’s hard to boil it down to one thing, but the most important lesson I learned in the last three years was how to stay true to myself and follow the path that was meant for me.”

Inspirational performers provide soundtrack to “killer” ceremony

Shining as bright as the students themselves were the talented musicians who brought the ceremony to life, including vocalist Dashny and violinist Kayiri. The gala reception continued with live performances from a range of musicians and dancers, all warmly appreciated by the crowd.

Keynote speaker Miro LaFlaga, founder of design agency Six Cinquième, urged the graduating students to live a life without regrets and pursue the things they were most passionate about.

“That one thing that you’re naturally good at can lead you places, to people, have a life-changing impact that you will never regret,” LaFlaga said. “This impact will not only affect your personal life, but it will inspire other people who look like you to do the same.”

Also attending Black Grad were Principal and Vice-Chancellor Deep Saini and Associate Provost (Equity & Academic Policies) Angela Campbell, who extended their congratulations to the graduating students and applauded the accomplishments and contributions of the Black community at McGill.

Check out the photo gallery below. All pictures by Tuza Dulcine

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1 year ago

Where was the invite for this? I didn’t get it and I’m graduating this year…

1 year ago

Black convocation – what’s next? Full out segregation?? Stop with the woke-ism already,

1 year ago
Reply to  Lynda

What a ridiculous, shrill, and ignorant comment. This event is organized by students, for students. This doesn’t replace the larger Convocation ceremonies held by McGill. People are free to participate in both. What’s wrong with people coming together to celebrate their community and culture(s)? We do it on St Patrick’s Day, St Jean, Canada Day, Pride, Carifiesta, etc, etc… Funny how the vast majority of “anti-woke” sentiments seem to come from people in the majority. Don’t be so afraid of people who don’t look like you. They don’t bite

Claire McDonald
1 year ago

Isn’t segregating by race racism? So divisive. This must stop before we all hate each other. This division has the opposite effect of helping us accept each other as the individuals we are.

1 year ago

Do you even understand the meaning of the word segregation? This is NOT a separate Convocation ceremony. This is a celebration of Black students who are graduating ORGANIZED BY BLACK STUDENTS. It’s a gala. A party. These same students will be taking part in the university’s main Convocation ceremonies in a few weeks. No segregation. Celebrating your race, your culture, your nation of origin, etc. is NOT segregation. I repeat, it is not segregation.

1 year ago

You do realize that this doesn’t replace the convocation held by McGill that EVERYONE attends. This isn’t segregation, simply black people supporting each other at a smaller convocation ceremony thrown by black people to celebrate black people. The comment above yours even explained it perfectly 2 days ago and yet you still commented this like???