Closing celebration for Black History Month on Parliament Hill

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Draped in vibrant red and gold. Bertillia Christian is dressed up in one of her finest outfits for a night out on Parliament Hill.

“It shows so much decor and so much pattern, it was full of life and I thought: that’s for me,” the Ottawa resident said.

Christian was one of 400 attendees at Elevate International’s closing celebration for Black History Month Tuesday night, honouring the legacy of Black people and recognizing the accomplishments of Canadian Black women in senior leadership positions.

“It’s these incredible women are taking spaces in places where traditionally we haven’t seen Black women,” said Elevate International president Solange Tuyishime. “But they haven’t led with colour, they led with confidence and intelligence and unity and are continuing to inspire the next generation of women leaders.”

Role models like Roda Muse, the secretary general of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

“This is amazing, so empowering,” said Muse as she looked around the room. “I get emotional when I see that. All this joy, all these women across generations coming together.”

An advocate for the underrepresented and underprivileged, Muse imparted a key message on the next generation.

“Never let someone else define who you are. Be yourself and believe in you,” she said.

As Black History Month comes to a close celebrating the leaders of today, there is a push to continue breaking barriers for tomorrow.

“Black women are still at the bottom of any statistic whether its leadership, health,” Tuyishime said. “But it’s up to us to celebrate us and to know the value we bring to the table.”

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