“This time, we’ll leave no woman behind,” activist and former politician Zanana Akande said at this year’s Toronto Women’s March. Akande has dedicated her life to social issues. She was the first black woman to be elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1990. After leaving politics in 1994, she stayed committed to working with many community-based groups, like the Urban Alliance on Race Relations. As seen at the Women’s March, Akande can still be found using her voice for activism; she’s currently working as the chair of the Black Legal Action Centre, a new non-profit set to launch later this year.
For years, Traci Melchor has been bringing her vibrant personality and intelligent reporting to our TV screens. Born in Pickering, Ont., the Etalk correspondent got her start as the host of MuchMusic’s RapCity. Throughout her career, Melchor has covered countless red carpets and conducted insightful interviews with hundreds of stars, including Beyoncé, Oprah, and Mariah Carey. Melchor helped launch The Social as a co-host, but left the show in 2016 to take care of her mental health. Today, aside from her duties at Etalk, she inspires by supporting a number of charities and talking openly about the importance of self-care.
In 2014, Janaya Khan co-founded Black Lives Matter Canada after the death of Jermaine Carby, who was fatally shot by a police officer in Brampton, Ont. (The police officer was not charged.) Currently based in Los Angeles, Khan continues to fight for the justice and equality of people of colour and the LGBTQ community.