By Safa Gangat & Damion Burgess
This February, in recognition of Black History Month, VIBE 105 celebrates TEN Successful Black Canadians who have made it big in different walks of life. Here's Part 2. You can read up on Part 1 if you missed it!
6. Leasha Small
(Owner/Mixologist @ The Diva Bar)
Leasha Small, who has been in the bartending, serving, and management industry for over 6 years, is the founder and owner of The Diva Bar, a mobile bartending company. Small struggled to find her true calling after she graduated from Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. In an article she wrote, Small discussed how after juggling too much at the same time and a long conversation with a friend, she was pushed in the right direction and founded The Diva Bar on May 24, 2016.
Small has certification in bartending, bartending training, as well as food and safety and continues to hone her skills and knowledge of the industry through taking courses to be able to teach her staff. Find out more about Leasha here.
7. Kayla-Marie Williams
(TV Host / Breaking News at CP24)
Experienced as a broadcast reporter and as a professional volleyball player, Kayla-Marie Williams is currently a breakfast weekend host and reporter for CP24. Raised in Toronto, Williams moved to to Louisiana in 2006 to attend Grambling State University as a student-athlete for the university’s women’s volleyball team and graduated with bachelor’s degree in mass communication concentration in broadcasting with a minor in sports management in 2010. Bouncing around, Williams polished her craft as a reporter working for companies like CTV (Toronto) and NBC news (LA) and put her reporting career on hold to play as a professional volleyball player in the Philippines before which, she was also the assistant volley coach in Atlanta for Agnes Scott College. Find out more about Kayla here.
8. Gareth Burgess
(Musician / Music Teacher)
Fifteen years in the making, Gareth Burgess has specialized in playing steel pans, Caribbean originated instrument. Currently part of the jazz band, Kalabash that was formed in 1993 Toronto, Burgess has succeeded the lead voice of the steel pan in the jazz ensemble that focuses on the rhythms of the Caribbean. He had given up his basketball scholarship in the U.S to pursue his passion and a career in music. Not only is Burgess the master of his instrument, he is also a teacher of it at various educational institutes such as two high schools in the GTA and at York University’s as a teaching assistant for the music department’s ensemble students. Burgess has with many other jazz bands such as Eddie Bullen’s Caribbean Jazz Collective and at events such as Caribana. Find out more about Gareth here.
9. Ayanna Lee-Rivears
(Founder of Socacize)
A dancer since the age of 12, Lee-Rivears started at the Ballet Jordan in Toronto where she trained in ballet, modern, and jazz. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Lee-Rivears was keen on learning dance native to her country and brought her passion to the Caribbean Folk Performers. Her passion for dance grew as she did and Lee-Rivears founded Socacize in 2007 to incorporate weight and strength training with dance moves to make exercise a lot more exciting. By then she had completed her Fitness Instructor Certified program at Canadian Fitness Profession. Lee-Rivears has found reward in motivating her students while also improving their confidence as their fitness improves too. Find out more about Ayanna here.
10. Starleeta Brown
(HR Educator / HR Specialist)
Nominated in the 2017 edition of the Human Resources Director’s Rising Star Report, Starleeta Brown is said to be one of Canada’s top HR professionals (by the Human Resources Director of Canada). Brown struggled after leaving Loyalist College in Belleville, ON, in 2009 with no aim in mind but then becoming a single mother, she worked tirelessly to get her professional life back on track. Brown is now a three-time alumna of Centennial College, her studies transitioning from HR management to teaching and learning in higher education. During her time at Centennial College, she learned that she had the talent as a leader and used her interpersonal skills to motivate herself and others in the HR industry; she continues to strive to learn more and guide others. Find out more about Starleeta here.