Hon. Amina Gerba: Honourable senators, on Saturday, I had the privilege of speaking at the Black Pearls Gala 2023, an annual event that celebrates the achievements of 100 Black women who have demonstrated extraordinary resilience and community impact.
I rise today to pay tribute to the woman behind this initiative, a trailblazer with a very inspiring story: Rose Cathy Handy.
Born in Cameroon, she came to Canada in 1993. She took on the challenge of integration head-on by volunteering for several organizations. However, her life would soon be turned upside down. In 1997, after giving birth to her first child, Rose Cathy became homeless and had to take refuge in a shelter with her baby.
She did not give up. Rose Cathy became an entrepreneur and got her first contract with Glendon College to organize a conference on women. That is how she got her autonomy back and could afford an apartment again.
She went on to found a business called BilingualLink, which helps newcomers understand the Canadian labour market and improve their employability. In 1999, BilingualLink organized the first bilingual job fair in Toronto.
Finally, Rose Cathy created Canada International Black Women Excellence, whose signature event, the Black Pearls Gala, celebrates 100 outstanding Black women and the progress they have achieved in Canada and beyond.
From homeless immigrant to unifying business leader, Rose Cathy Handy is a shining example of integration for newcomers and a model of resilience for women with diverse ethnocultural backgrounds.