Top 50 Most Influential Nigerian Canadians.

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Top 50 Most Influential Nigerian Canadians

In this edition, we feature our selection of the Top 50 Most Influential Nigerian Canadians. The list – the newspaper’s inaugural list is spread over seven categories: Government, The Academia, Business, Sports, Media, Entertainment and Arts with the nominations reflecting the individuals’ achievements recorded up till Jan 2022.

As typical, we expect our choices to create a lot of divergent opinions – with the thrill at finding someone you admire making the list being tempered by frustration that the person you are confident should be there is not.

Nevertheless, we are sure you will find plenty of interesting takeaways from this list and perhaps a lot of pleasant surprises. This list is not a ranking and without further delay we delve into the part one of our Top 50 most influential Nigerian Canadians:

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GOVERNMENT

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Kaycee Madu, Alberta MLA for Edmonton-South West; Cabinet minister

Kelechi “Kaycee” Madu, born 1974 is a lawyer and politician who has served as the provincial minister of labour and immigration for Alberta since February 25, 2022. A member of the United Conservative Party (UCP), Madu has represented Edmonton (South-West) in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta since the 2019 provincial election.

He was previously Alberta’s minister of municipal affairs from 2019 to 2020, before becoming minister of justice and solicitor general of Alberta in 2020. Madu is the first Black person to serve as a provincial minister of justice in Canada. Kelechi Madu was born and raised in Southeastern Nigeria and attended the University of Lagos graduating with a Bachelor of Laws. He immigrated to Edmonton in 2005 with his wife Emem for her postgraduate studies at the University of Alberta.

Uzoma Asagwara, Manitoba MLA for Union Station

Uzoma Asagwara is a  politician and retired basketball player. Since 2019, Asagwara has represented the Union Station electoral district in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. Asagwara is a member of the Manitoba New Democratic Party (Manitoba NDP).

Asagwara was born in Winnipeg to Igbo Nigerian parents. In 2008, Asagwara completed a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Psychiatric Nursing from the University of Winnipeg and the Brandon University.[4] Asagwara was the University of Winnipeg Female Athlete of the Year in 2005-06. Asgwara was a member of the Canadian National Basketball Team for two years and was part of the team at the Pan American Games in 2007.

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BUSINESS, INDUSTRY

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Samuel Oghale Oboh, architect, first Black president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

Oboh, in Lagos, in 1971 is an architect, manager, leader, former Vice President – Architecture at AECOM Canada Architects Ltd – a Fortune 500 Company and the 2015 President of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. Sam Oboh (as he is commonly known) is the first Canadian of African descent to be elected as president of this Canadian Royal Institute – a feat that the erstwhile director of the Institute of African Studies at Carleton University – Ottawa, the late professor Pius Adesanmi described as “a history-making event on many fronts

In 2021, at the Rio General Assembly, Oboh was elected as the Vice President for Region 3 of the Paris-based International Union of Architects (UIA) and has received several awards including being named as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in Alberta by Alberta Venture.

Bunmi Banjo, Business Executive, Head of Google’s Digital Skills for Africa program

Bunmi Banjo is a technology leadership and future of work speaker and adviser. She is also the founder and CEO of Kuvora Inc. Bunmi was previously responsible for Google’s Brand and Reputation in Africa where she led the company’s effort to provide digital skills to millions of youths across the continent.

Bunmi was born in Canada to Nigerian parents from Ijebu, Ogun State, Nigeria, and is the eldest of three children. She attended the Federal Government Academy, Suleja where she was a member of the inaugural class of Nigeria’s secondary school program for gifted and talented pupils. Bunmi attained a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2000 from The University of Toronto and an MBA in 2007 from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

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ACADEMIA

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Adeola Olubamiji, technologist, specializing in medical applications of 3D printing

Adeola Deborah Olubamiji is a technologist who specializes in Metal and Plastic Additive Manufacturing (also known as 3D-Printing). In 2017, she became the first black person to obtain a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the 112-year-old University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Adeola Olubamiji was born on April 3, 1985 in Nigeria, a native of Ijare area, Ondo state. She was raised in Ibadan where she attended Alafia Public Primary School and St Gabriel Secondary School, Mokola.[9] She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Physics (with Electronics) from Olabisi Onabanjo University, and later went on to obtain her master’s degree at Tampere University of Technology, Finland. She received her Doctorate degree from University of Saskatchewan, becoming the first Black person to obtain a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University.

Dr. Temitope Oriola, Professor of Criminology and Sociology, Special Advisor on police reform

Temitope Oriola, a professor at the University of Alberta is recipient of the Governor General of Canada Academic Gold Medal (first presented in 1873 by the Earl of Dufferin), Oriola’s book Criminal Resistance? The Politics of Kidnapping Oil Workers is one of a small number of book-length sociological investigations of political kidnapping in the English language.

A decorated researcher and teacher, Professor Oriola is a two-time Carnegie fellow and the 2020 recipient of the Kathleen W. Klawe Prize for teaching excellence. He is a past president of the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS). In 2021, he was appointed as a special advisor on police act review to the government of the province of Alberta.

Chika Stacy Oriuwa, physician and advocate for medical education reform.

Oriuwa is a physician, spoken word artist, and advocate against systemic racism in health care. In 2021, she was one of six frontline workers honored by the Barbie Role Model Program with a doll created in her likeness. In 2020, Oriuwa was the first black woman to become the sole valedictorian at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine.

Oriuwa was born in Ontario, Canada. She is the daughter of Stephen and Catherine Oriuwa, who emigrated from Nigeria to Canada in the 1980s. Oriuwa graduated from McMaster University with a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences and then took a gap year to focus on poetry. On 2 June 2020, Oriuwa graduated from the University of Toronto as valedictorian. She was the first solo black female valedictorian at University of Toronto, the second overall black female valedictorian, and the first woman in 14 years.

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SPORT

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 Masai Ujiri, President of Basketball Operations for the Toronto Raptors

Masai, born in England to Nigerian parents is a professional basketball executive and former player and is the president of basketball operations of the Toronto Raptors in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

After a modest playing career, Ujiri became a scout in 2002, first for the Orlando Magic and then the Denver Nuggets. In 2008, he joined the backroom staff of the Toronto Raptors. Ujiri returned to the Nuggets in 2010 as general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations, and helped turn the team’s fortunes around, returning them to the playoffs. As a result, he was named the NBA Executive of the Year in 2013. The following season, Ujiri returned to the Raptors as general manager. In the summer of 2016, Masai Ujiri relinquished his title as general manager to Jeff Weltman and accepted the position of president of basketball operations. As president, Ujiri worked to usher in a period of sustained success, helping the team win its first NBA championship in 2019.

 Natalie Achonwa, Basketball Player

Achonwa, born 1992 is a professional basketball player for the Minnesota Lynx of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She played on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish women’s basketball team. Achonwa was born in Toronto, Ontario, started playing basketball in Guelph, Ontario, and is 6 feet 3 inches (191 cm) tall.

Achonwa’s father immigrated from Nigeria to Canada when he was twelve. At age 16, Achonwa became the youngest player to ever play on the Canadian national team in 2009. She competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics as well as the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women.

Achonwa was invited to join the national team, to play in the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Women, held in Mexico. Achonwa was invited to play for Canada at the 2016 Summer Olympics, making it her second Olympic appearance. She played for Canada at the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. Achonwa was invited to play for Canada at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Simidele Adeagbo, Skeleton Racer

“Simi” is a Nigerian skeleton racer who competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics. She is Nigeria and Africa’s first female skeleton athlete. She was the first black female Olympian in the sport. In 2022, she won the woman’s mono bob event in the 2022 EuroCup, held in Germany. In so doing, she became the first athlete from Africa to win an international sled race. Before competing in skeleton, Adeagbo competed in triple jump, last competing in 2008.

Simi was born in Toronto, in Ontario, Canada, to Nigerian parents; but she moved back to Nigeria when she was an infant and stayed there through age 6.

Hakeem Dawodu, Mixed Martial Artist

Hakeem is a mixed martial artist, currently signed to Ultimate Fighting Championship and fights in the Featherweight division. He previously competed for the World Series of Fighting. Dawodu was born in Calgary to a mother from Nigeria and when he was six years old, his father was deported, forcing his mother to raise him on her own.

He had a troubled childhood; he was first placed in a juvenile detention center at the age of 14. Two years later, his counselor placed him in Muay Thai training as a means of controlling his anger. On November 11, 2017, it was announced that Dawodu signed a four-fight deal with the UFC. Dawodu faced Michael Trizano on February 5, 2022 at UFC Fight Night 200. He won the fight via unanimous decision.

Mike Edem, Football Player

Anie-Ebiet Michael Edem, born 1989 in Lagos is a professional Canadian football defensive back for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League (CFL). After the 2012 CIS season, he was ranked as the tenth best player in the Canadian Football League’s Scouting Bureau final rankings for players eligible in the 2013 CFL Draft and sixth by players in Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

On January 31, 2019 Edem and the Roughriders agreed to a two-year contract extension. He re-signed to a one-year contract extension with the team on December 16, 2020. Edem was drafted in the first round, third overall by the Montreal Alouettes and signed with the team on May 27, 2013. He played CIS football for the Calgary Dinos and McGill Redmen.

 Rumun Ndur, Former Ice Hockey Player, Ice Hockey

Rumun Ndur is a former professional ice hockey player. Ndur’s hard-nosed style earned him 69 games of big-league duty in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Buffalo Sabres, the New York Rangers, and the Atlanta Thrashers. Ndur was the first Nigerian-born player to play in the NHL. He was born in Nigeria but grew up in Hearst, Ontario.

He was an assistant on a couple of Sutherland Cup-contending Nationals teams under Pat Powers before coaching in the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs organization for the last few years. In January 2022, he was hired by the London Nationals as a coach.

Temitope Ogunjimi, Rugby Sevens Player

Temitope is a Canadian rugby sevens player. She won a gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games as a member of the Canada women’s national rugby sevens team. Ogunjimi started her athletic career primarily as a wrestler, winning a gold medal at the 2013 Canada Summer Games as well as the 2014 Junior Pan American Championships. It was not until her third year of university that she took up rugby full-time.

She graduated from the University of Calgary with a degree in Law and Society.

Nakas Onyeka, Football Player

Onyeka is a former professional Canadian football linebacker who played for four seasons in the Canadian Football League (CFL). He first played for the Toronto Argonauts for three seasons and was a member of the 105th Grey Cup championship team. He has also been a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Edmonton Elks.

Onyeka signed with the Edmonton Elks to open free agency on February 8, 2022. However, it was announced that he had retired on March 18, 2022. Oneyka is the cousin of defensive end Kene Onyeka and defensive back Godfrey Onyeka, both of whom also play in the Canadian Football League.

Djustice Sears-Duru, Rugby Player

Djustice is a Nigerian-Canada international rugby union prop who plays for Ealing Trailfinders and the Seattle Seawolves of Major League Rugby (MLR). He formerly played for Glasgow Warriors and Ontario Blues. Sears-Duru played for Ontario Blues. He joined Glasgow Warriors on a short-term deal till the end of the 2015–16 season on 23 March 2016. This was then extended till the end of the 2016–17 season.

Sears-Duru made his debut for the Warriors in the pre-season match against Harlequins on the 20 August 2016. On 20 February 2017 it was announced that Sears-Duru would leave the Warriors at the end of the season. Sears-Duru rejoined Ontario Blues before joining Ealing Trailfinders for the 2017–18 season. Sears-Duru made his debut for Canada in 2013 and was part of the Canada squad at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Oluseyi Smith, Sprinter

Seyi (nicknamed Shay) moved from Nigeria via Senegal to Canada in 1996. Seyi’s first Olympic experience was at London 2012. He was part of Canada’s 4x100m relay team that finished in the bronze medal position behind Jamaica and the United States, only to be later disqualified for a lane violation.

Prior to London, Smith had competed for Canada in athletics since the age of 16.

In 2017 Smith decided to make the switch from summer to winter sport and began training with Canada’s bobsleigh team. In his World Cup debut in November 2017, he won bronze in Park City as a member of Christopher Spring’s four-man crew. In December, he helped push Justin Kripps to four-man silver in Innsbruck. He was also part of a trio of fourth-place finishes in the four-man event during the 2017-18 World Cup season. In 2022 Seyi is running for a spot on the International Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission.

Fikayo Tomori, Soccer Player

Tomori was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to Nigerian parents. Before the age of one, Tomori moved with his family to England where he was raised. He began playing for Riverview United in Kent when he was six.

On 16 May 2016, in the next international break and a day after making his professional club debut, Tomori was called up to the England U19 squad. On 4 June 2016, Tomori made his England U19 debut and was also part of the England 2016 UEFA European Under-19 Championship squad.

On 3 October 2019, Tomori received his first call-up to the England senior squad for forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifying matches. He later said he was committed to playing for England, following interest from Nigeria and Canada; he had previously represented Canada at youth level. Tomori made his debut for England on 17 November 2019 against Kosovo in a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier.

Iké Ugbo, Soccer Player

Iké was born in Lewisham, Greater London to Nigerian parents. He moved to Canada with his family when he was four. In Canada, he played youth soccer with Brampton East SC and Woodbridge Strikers, winning an international under-10 tournament at Disney in 2008 with the latter.

He currently plays as a forward for Ligue 1 side Troyes on loan from Belgian First Division A club Genk and represents the Canada national team. In September 2021, he announced that he had decided to change his international allegiance to Nigeria. However, two months later on 4 November, he instead switched his international allegiance to Canada. The next day he was called up to the team for that month’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification matches against Costa Rica and Mexico. He made his international debut for Canada in the match against Costa Rica on November 12, appearing as an 83rd minute substitute.

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MEDIA, FILM AND TELEVISION

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Bukky Abaniwonda, Actress

Bukky Abaniwonda, popularly called Bukky Wonder is best known for the films Bridges, Awkward Things About Losing Weight and The Carperdian. She was born in Canada as the second of the family with five siblings. She spent her childhood in Abuja. She has two brothers and two sisters. She attended Command Day Secondary School, Abuja for high school studies. Then she graduated with an accounting degree from Bowen University.

In 2017, she played the lead role in the film Bridges directed by Rogers Ofime. Then she acted in the film It’s The End. In 2020, Abaniwonda directed the first Afro-Canadian web serial The African Family which is almost exclusively an all-Black production. It has been shot in Calgary. The cast included African actors from Nigeria, Congo and Angola.

Dayo Ade, Actor

Dayo Ade is a Nigerian Canadian actor. He was born in Nigeria and moved with his family to Toronto, Ontario, Canada at an early age. He played Bryant Lester “BLT” Thomas in seasons 3–5 of the Degrassi Junior High series. He appeared as nurse Leo Beckett on the CBC Television series Cracked. He voiced as Hunter Hakka in Starlink: Battle for Atlas.

He also had guest appearances in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Borderland”, in the Alias episode “The Awful Truth”, in the Scrubs episode “My Malpractical Decision”, and in the Charmed episode “We’re Off to See the Wizard”. He appeared in the Lost episodes “What Kate Does” and “Lighthouse”.

In 2021, he joined the cast of Bob Hearts Abishola as Abishola’s Nigerian husband Tayo Adebambo and starred in the film Cinema of Sleep. At the 2021 Whistler Film Festival, he won the award for Best Performance in a Borsos Competition Film for Cinema of Sleep.

Alfons Adetuyi, Film and Television Director and Producer

Alfons Adetuyi is an award-winning producer and director recognized for both navigating the complexities of financing international co-productions and producing successful cross-cultural films and television series.

His company, Inner City Films, has produced over 130 episodes of primetime television as well as feature films that have been distributed in the US, Canada and Europe, including four official co-productions with South Africa. Alfons directed and produced the award-winning feature film HIGH CHICAGO and during its festival tour of Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago and Toronto, the film garnered both the Audience Choice Award and Best Canadian Feature at the Reelworld Film Festival. Alfons was featured in Indie Wire‘s ‘Shadow and Act’ Black Filmmakers to Watch and named as one of 2018’s Top 30 Black Directors.

Rogers Ofime, Filmmaker and Producer

Rogers Ofime is a film maker and television producer. He is best known for producing several notable Nigerian television soap operas, including the successful Tinsel, which was the first multi-camera studio-based television daily soap to be produced by a Nigerian producer in all of East, West or North Africa and more recently Hush.

Ofime relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and set up his own production company, Theatron Media Incorporated and has worked alongside several notable film producers and directors including Tade Ogidan, Erika Klopper, Juliette Hagopian, Robert Peters, Curtis Graham, Steve Morrisson and Titus Orpen.

Ofime is the Executive Producer at Native Media TV, a production company, under which platform he produced the series, “Zone 222” and “Till You Are 16” for Africa Magic TV. In 2020, he produced a movie titled “Voiceless”. A movie that focuses on the troubles faced by those living in the northern part of Nigeria.

Aisha Alfa, Comedian and Actress

Aisha Alfa is a comedian and actress, best known for her recurring role as teacher Ms. Grell in the Degrassi franchise and her appearances as a reporter on the mock newscast series The Beaverton.

Born in Nigeria and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she is the sister of musician and radio broadcaster Ismaila Alfa. After winning Winnipeg’s “Funniest Person with a Day Job” comedy competition in 2011, she moved to Toronto to further her career.

She was a Canadian Comedy Award nominee for Best Breakout Artist at the 16th Canadian Comedy Awards in 2015. Alfa and her Beaverton castmates received a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Ensemble Performance in a Variety or Sketch Comedy Program or Series at the 6th Canadian Screen Awards in 2018.

She has since appeared in the television series Opie’s Home, Sorry for Your Loss, Coop & Cami Ask the World and Good Trouble. She released her first full-length comedy special, Aisha Alfa: All the Parts, in 2020 on All Things Comedy.

Robert Adetuyi, Screenwriter and Film Director

Robert is a Nigerian screenwriter and film director who is active in Hollywood. Born in Sudbury, Ontario. Adetuyi is a graduate of York University, where he studied communications and sociology. He moved to Hollywood in 1992.

His screenwriting credits include Stomp the Yard, Code Name: The Cleaner, Turn It Up, You Got Served: Beat the World, Honey: Rise Up and Dance and High Chicago. He has directed Turn It Up, You Got Served: Beat the World, Bring It On: Worldwide Cheersmack, Trouble Sleeping and Stand!.

Along with his brothers Tom, Amos and Alfons, Adetuyi is a partner in the film and television production firm Inner City Films, whose productions have included the television series Jozi-H and Ekhaya: A Family Chronicle and the films High Chicago and Love Jacked.

Rosey Edeh, News Anchor, Former Track and Field Athlete

Rosey is a television personality, who was a news anchor for Global News at Noon on Global Toronto and senior reporter for ET Canada. She is currently C.E.O. of Micha Muse Media and has directed her debut film Oliver Jones: Mind Hands Heart. She is currently a morning co-anchor for CTV Morning Live Ottawa.

She was a weather presenter, providing weather forecasts on CFCF in Montreal, before moving to the United States to work for CNN and most recently, a weathercaster on NBC’s Early Today and MSNBC. A resident of Lasalle, Quebec, she competed at the Olympic Games in 1988, 1992 and 1996. In the 400-metre hurdles final at the 1996 Summer Olympics Edeh set a Canadian national record time that stood over 23 years, until broken by Sage Watson in 2019. In September 2020, Rosey became a co-anchor of the CTV Morning News Live Ottawa.

Enuka Okuma, Actress

Okuma is best known for her role as detective Traci Nash in the Global/ABC police drama series, Rookie Blue. Okuma is also known for her work on the Canadian television series Madison and Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye. She appeared in the first season of TV soap-opera Hillside as the scheming and conspiring Kelly.

Okuma made her directorial debut with the short film, Cookie, on which she was also a writer, actor, and executive producer. Okuma co-wrote the episode “Best Man” on Rookie Blue.

For her role in Madison, she was nominated for Best Performance in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series at the 1995 Gemini awards. For her role on Rookie Blue, Okuma was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series at the 2011 Gemini awards and the Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Series in 2013.

Oyin Oladejo, Actress

Oyin Oladejo is an actress known for portraying Joann Owosekun on the television series Star Trek: Discovery.

Oladejo was born in Ibadan and grew up in Lagos. She moved to Canada in 2001 at the age of 16. She completed a course of study in theatre arts at Humber College in Toronto, and the Soul Pepper Academy in Toronto. According to her, she was about to give up the acting profession before taking on the advice of her agent with a self-made video of a casting part, without knowing what production it was for, and was shortly thereafter selected for the role of bridge officer Joann Owosekun on Star Trek: Discovery. Oladejo has appeared in the series since the first season of the series.

In the following years she was seen in the role of Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and in the male role of Lopakhin in Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.

Greta Onieogou, Actress

Greta Onieogou is best known for her lead role as Layla Keating in the American drama series All American and as Soraya Duval in the Canadian drama Heartland. Onieogou was born in Leningrad, Russia to Nigerian-Russian parents. When Onieogou was five, she moved with her parents to Toronto, Canada. She used to be a rhythmic gymnast and worked with Alexandra Orlando for a couple months during her training. In 2018, Onieogou was cast in the pilot for All American and in started her own YouTube channel.

Shadia Simmons, Actress

Shadia Simmons is best known for her role as Corrine Baxter in the television series Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, her recurring role as Emily on Life with Derek and for her starring role as Piper Dellums in the 2000 movie The Color of Friendship.

Her first film was Moonlight and Valentino, where she played the part of Jenny Morrow, the daughter of a character played by Whoopi Goldberg. She appeared in the Disney production A Saintly Switch and was cast in a number of Disney Channel Original Movies. Simmons has starred in four television series, Ace Lightning, I Was a Sixth Grade Alien, Life with Derek, and Strange Days at Blake Holsey High.

Simmons was born in Toronto, Ontario.[1] She has completed her Master’s degree in Education at a college in Buffalo, New York. Shadia is the oldest out of three siblings; she has a brother named A.J. and a sister named Sabrina. She also has three children, two daughters and a son.

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MUSIC

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Töme

Michelle Oluwatomi Akanbi better known as Töme, is a singer, songwriter and actor. In 2020, Tome won the 2021 edition of the Juno awards for her single ‘I Pray’ ft Sean Kingston and have shared stage with African superstars like Burna boy, Wizkid, Mr Eazi and also collaborated with pop stars like King Promise, Runtown, Zlatan, Wavy the Creator and Sean Kingston.

In 2015, she released her debut EP ’One with Self’ on SoundCloud. This was followed by her sophomore EP titled Tömesroom: Chapter 1 and in 2020, she released her debut album titled BT4W (Bigger Than Four Walls) She also released a new single ‘I Pray’ in 2020. Her third EP Dreams was released in 2021; with her sophomore album Löv being released on February 28, 2022.

She is also an actress and has featured in movies like Fear Thy Roommate, Clash and Love in Transition.

 Dax, rapper, Singer and Songwriter

Daniel Nwosu Jr. better known by his stage name Dax is a rapper, singer and songwriter.

Daniel was born on March 22, 1994, in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador to Nigerian immigrants of Igbo ancestry. He grew up in Ottawa and moved to Wichita to attend university, and he later moved to Los Angeles, California. He initially wrote poetry and was a motivational speaker prior to pursuing a rap career.

In July 2021, Dax released a sequel to “Dear God” called “Child of God” in which he responded by thanking God for what he had done for him. In August 2021, Dax announced his debut studio album and released “Propaganda” featuring Tom Macdonald as album’s lead single. The song peaked at #9 on Rap Digital Song Sales chart of Billboard Charts. In early October 2021, album’s third single “40 Days, 40 Nights” featuring Nasty C was released.

Falana, Singer

Born and raised in Brampton, Victoria Falana better known by her stage name Falana grew up listening to the traditional music of her Nigerian parents, alongside pop, hip hop and R&B, which she’d compile as mixtapes.

She played in a bucket-drumming band at school before teaching herself guitar chords via YouTube. Soon she was winning singing competitions alongside studying kinesiology at university. But it was Falana’s adventures abroad that truly fed into her creativity. A six-month exchange in Denmark was followed by a trip to Cuba that produced a performance at the Canadian Embassy. Falana quickly realised she could gain more musical experience and money in Havana than she ever could back home, so she relocated there, learning Spanish and immersing herself in the salsa hip-hop fusion scene.

That first EP was born from a meeting with Waldo Lavanut Nazario, a producer friend of her piano teacher’s flatmate.  In March 2022, Falana won the SOCAN Black Canadian Music Award.

Tebey, Country and Pop Singer-Songwriter

Tebey Solomon Ottoh known mononymously as Tebey, is a country music singer and multi-genre songwriter. His debut single, “We Shook Hands (Man to Man)”, hit No. 47 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. He has composed several singles for other artists, in addition to releasing music of his own. Tebey has landed seven songs in the top ten of the Canada Country airplay chart, including the number one hit “Who’s Gonna Love You” in 2018.

He started singing in church at the age of five and then began to sing at local events. In 1990 and again in 1994, he won the 14-and-under male division of the Canadian Open Country Singing Contest, and in 1996 and 1998, the 18-and-under male division. At 15, he signed a development deal with a major Nashville record label and moved to that city with his father, a Nigerian-born electronics engineer, with his mother and siblings staying back at their family home in Burlington, Ontario.

Tobi, Rapper and Singer

Oluwatobi Feyisara Ajibolade, known professionally as Tobi (stylized as TOBi), is a Nigerian Canadian rapper and singer signed to RCA Records and Same Plate Entertainment. He released his debut studio album Still in May 2019 and his second album Elements Vol. 1 in 2020.

Tobi was born in 1993 in Lagos and moved to Ottawa with his father when he was 8. In October 2020, Tobi released his second studio album, Elements Vol. 1. It won the 2021 Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year, with “Holiday” being nominated for Contemporary R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. The music video for his song “24 (Toronto Remix)” was longlisted for the 2021 Prism Prize.

In January 2021, he was named one of the winners of SOCAN’s inaugural Black Canadian Music Awards alongside Dylan Sinclair, Naya Ali, RAAHiiM and Hunnah. Elements Vol. 1 was shortlisted for the 2021 Polaris Music Prize.

WondaGurl, Hip-Hop Producer

Ebony Naomi Oshunrinde, professionally known as WondaGurl, is a record producer, songwriter and record executive. WondaGurl has worked with several prominent artists in the music industry, including Mariah Carey, Pop Smoke, Travis Scott, Jay-Z, Drake and Kanye West, among others.

In 2018, she was featured in the Music category of Forbes 30 Under 30 and is one of the youngest women to add production to a platinum-selling hip hop album. In July 2020, WondaGurl signed a worldwide publishing deal with Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Publishing and Sony/ATV Music Publishing, in conjunction with her own record label and publishing company, Wonderchild Music.

At the Juno Awards of 2021, WondaGurl won the Jack Richardson Producer of the Year Award for her work on the songs “Aim for the Moon” and “Gang Gang”. She was both the first Black Canadian woman to win the award, and the first woman ever to win as a producer for other artists rather than as an artist self-producing her own work.

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LITERATURE & ARTS

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Francesca Ekwuyasi, Novelist

Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer and artist most noted for her debut novel Butter Honey Pig Bread, which was published in 2020. Raised in Lagos she is currently based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In addition to her writing, she had an exhibition of paper cutout art at Halifax’s The Khyber in 2019 and has directed short documentary films including Reconcile and Black & Belonging.

Butter Honey Pig Bread was selected for the 2021 edition of Canada Reads, where it was defended by celebrity chef Roger Mooking. The book was longlisted for the 2020 Giller Prize and shortlisted for the 2021 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction,[5] the 2021 ReLit Award for fiction the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and the 2020 Governor General’s Award for English fiction.

Tolu Oloruntoba, Poet

Tolu Oloruntoba is a poet and physician whose debut poetry collection The Junta of Happenstance won the Governor General’s Award for English-language poetry at the 2021 Governor General’s Awards.

After abandoning plans to become a comic book artist and fantasy author, Tolu Oloruntoba spent his early career as a primary care physician. He currently manages virtual health projects, and has lived in Nigeria, the United States, and Canada.

His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, while his debut chapbook, Manubrium, was a bpNichol Chapbook Award finalist. The Junta of Happenstance is his first full-length collection of poetry.

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe, Novelist

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe is an author and academic. She is best known for her 2019 family saga novel The Son of the House which she won the Nigeria Prize for Literature awards for in 2021. She is also a Professor of Law at Babcock University, where she served formerly as an assistant professor. In 2019, she won the award for the best international fiction book at the Sharjah International Book Fair. In 2021, she won the SprinNG women authors’ prize. Her novel was also nominated for the Giller Prize in 2021.

Onyemelukwe attended Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia for her Doctor of Juridical Science, and furthermore at the University of Nigeria where she obtained her first degree in Law. In 2017, she published Health Research Governance in Africa which was published by Routledge Publishing. She is also a Professor of Law in Babcock University.

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