Kelvin Slaughter holds ginger ale and ketchup potato chipsFor his first trip to Canada, Kelvin Slaughter shows off a typical Canadian snack: ginger ale and ketchup potato chips, Friday during the African Diaspora Youth Conference.

Youth conference bridges way to future

The African Diaspora Youth Conference, May 9 to 11, opens doors for students who attend, says Larissa Turizeye.

Just finished her first year of studies in nursing, she was one of the student co-ordinators of the annual event, which brought more than 300 high school students to the UWindsor campus from across southeast Michigan and southern Ontario.

“I attended last year and I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to help out this year,” Turizeye says.

She hopes this year’s cohort will be inspired as she was to pursue higher education.

“This conference can help them get the knowledge they need to get into university,” says Turizeye.

Gabriel Lolita Peart, a Grade 11 student at West Hill Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, certainly hopes so. She wore a “Future Lancer” T-shirt during her second day in Windsor and says she was curious to learn what the University has to offer.

“I came down because I wanted to know about programs in the arts,” she says. “I got offered a chance because I am active in the Black Student Union, and the idea of a $1,000 scholarship sounds good.”

Karlo Cabrera, a principal with the Toronto District School Board responsible for equity, anti-racism, and anti-oppression, says the taste of a university experience is a draw for the conference.

“We want students to see there is a place for you here,” he says. “The fact that you have students coming from all different boards, even a different country, allows them to engage and let go of their uncertainties of how to interact with others.”

He calls the emphasis on learning about the African diaspora and the contributions of Black Canadians “identity-affirming,” adding “it provides an opportunity for the students to shine.”

One of those shining students was Kelvin Slaughter.

A senior at Detroit’s University Prep Art and Design High School, he was named among the region’s “Brightest and Best” by WXYZ television station for academic excellence.

He has looked across the river to Windsor all his life, but this conference is his first time outside the United States.

“I came because I wanted to meet people who look like me but come from a different place,” Slaughter says. “Today’s presentations taught me that if you put your dreams and aspirations into it, you’ll be successful.

“It’s all about finding the tools to build the bridge.”

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