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RBC Announces Black History Month Student Essay Competition Scholarship Winners

Toronto – WEBWIRE

Continuing its black history month celebration, RBC today announced the winners of its 10th Annual RBC Black History Month Student Essay Competition:

$5,000: Tamara Wallace, Cochrane High School, Cochrane, AB. Tamara’s essay, entitled Rosemary Brown: Opening Doors, focused on the first black Canadian woman to be elected to a provincial legislature. Brown also finished a close second in the 1975 leadership race for the New Democratic Party of Canada.
$2,500: Vianca Gamboa, St. Maurice School, Winnipeg, MB. Vianca’s essay, entitled Rosemary Brown: The Fight for Justice and Equality, focused on the hardships faced during Brown’s long and determined political career.
$1,500: Muna Mohamed, Cambridge, ON. Mohamed’s essay, entitled Jennifer Hodge de Silva: Telling Our Story, Shaping Our Future, focuses on the impact of Hodge’s films in the 1980s and 90s.

The three winners were selected from a group of 30 finalists. The selections were made by a panel of individuals from all across the country who have each made a tremendous impact within their communities. In total, close to 300 essays were submitted in this year’s competition.

Each of the finalists not selected as a winner receives a $500 scholarship from the RBC Foundation.

’Over the past ten years we’ve been truly moved by the personal inspiration the graduating high school students draw from great black Canadians, and this year’s winners are certainly no exception,’ said Kris Depencier, Greater Toronto Regional President, RBC.  ’RBC is very proud to celebrate the rich cultural mosaic that makes this country so unique, and this scholarship program does just that while recognizing some of the great minds of tomorrow.’

The competition was open to students across Canada who have applied to attend college or university in the 2019/20 academic year. It asked students to learn about and share their thoughts on how black Canadians have helped to define Canada’s diverse heritage and identity through their achievements and contributions to the broader society. Essays were limited to 750 words. The winning essays are posted at

Over the past ten years 188 students have received $180,500 by writing essays about influential black Canadians. More than 2,000 essays have been submitted, focusing on a wide range of influential figures - from Olympian Donovan Bailey to musician Oscar Peterson to politician Lincoln Alexander.

The most written about black Canadians over the contest’s ten-year history, however, are all women. Author, journalist and human rights advocate Carrie Best has been the most written about.  Rosemary Brown (the first black woman to be elected to a Canadian provincial legislature) second, and Mary-Ann Shadd Cary (19th century anti-slavery activist and the first black female publisher in Canada) third.

RBC continues its black history month celebration with a special event February 28, 2019 in Toronto, honouring this year’s RBC Black History Month Essay Competition winners and featuring special guests from the black community including two-time Canadian sprinting champion Sam Effah and Dr. Eugenia Duodu, CEO of Visions of Science.



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