SABRINA BELLA - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
RISING STAR AND INTERNATIONAL MODEL
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
This question a bit of an irony for me because most people follow and know about my less formal profile. I believe people think my name is truly Sabrina Bella and "I am determined to be the next Naomi Campbell" - this is a total myth. I've been fortunate to model internationally but it is honestly a hobby that I have passion for. I am currently, getting ready to continue my scholarly growth at the notable McGill University after taking a year off to pursue modeling outside of Canada. In the short time I dedicated to modelling internationally I've traveled all around the world, did Mercedez Benz Fashion Week, landed in Vogue Italia and Fashion TV online, struck the runways of all mega fashion shows in Nigeria and awarded Best Female Model at the African Entertainments Awards Canada 2012 and 2013 for my successes in the industry in and out of Canada.
What people don’t know… My name is Sabrina Ivie Idukpaye, I'm 21, and I grew up in Toronto's "high risk areas." Along with the pursuit of academic excellence and my modeling career, I devote an incredible amount of time and energy to my school and surrounding community.
In the leadership positions I occupied, I became the voice of numerous students who long for a better world and a society free of inequality. As the 2011 Vice-Chair of the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s Student Senate, I worked alongside the Student Trustee to bring awareness and resolutions to key issues amongst our constituency. [In our term, we worked to boycott water bottles; promoted the addition of anti-homophobia education in the board’s equity and inclusion policy; brought attention to mental wellness; and sustained the board’s no sweat shop policy driven by students.] In 2008, I participated in the Toronto Opera Program together with Toronto Police (TPS), where I helped to create an operatic performance that reflected the problems faced by youth in today’s society. This community mobilization project sparked an interest in cultivating positive relations between TPS and teens. Through my monthly campaigns as the 2011 President of my school’s Empowered Students Partnership (ESP) and my involvement in the Youth in Policing Initiative, I was able to contribute to the eradication of barriers between youth and law enforcers in the Black community. As a resident of a number of high risk neighbourhoods, I know the welfare of the community greatly depends upon positive interactions with the police. In 2010, I led my ESP team in a campaign called L.O.V. E (Leave Out Violence Everywhere) and it won the distinction of Best Anti-Verbal Abuse Initiative in Toronto. Along with this initiative, I’ve been involved in several others that contribute to the betterment of society.
Within my local community, I’ve engaged in activities to reach out the black youths that are going astray. In the summer of 2009, I worked for The Toronto Police and was placed at Toronto West Courts. I was shocked by the number of Black youth that were in the justice system. That school year, I got involved with Peacebuilders International Canada. It is a charitable Canadian organization improving the lives of children and youth by providing them with appropriate access to justice, empowering them to overcome personal challenges and helping them to realize their full potential. Peacekeeping Circles are used in restorative justice through the youth criminal justice systems. I was trained as a Youth Facilitator for whenever one is needed in the circle process. Residing in high-priority areas, I’ve also noticed an alarming participation in smoking as recreation. In 2009, my outreach team Mission Possible, created an anti-smoking campaign and presented it to several elementary schools. I prayed that the initiative would poison the trend in the minds of the youngest in the Black community in hopes that it would bring an end to the harmful recreation in the future.
As an aspiring humanitarian, I have also contributed to the Black community in third world countries. I have raised money to build a school in Kenya. I have written and directed a play in which the proceeds from the show were donated to building a well in Sierre Lione.
My future aspirations find their origin in a dream conceived at the age of 6, which was to fight for equality and justice for all. Within that dream was a goal to pursue higher education in the hopes of becoming a well accomplished lawyer. Today, that dream still exists and it has expanded to political and humanitarian interests. My goal is to progress from a career as lawyer to a judge and partake in politics and humanitarian affairs.
What's your inspiration or how do you get motivated?
My motivation in life comes from being raised in Italy, a place that was not always inviting in my eyes, due to the presence of inequality in my community. The populace was faced with economic challenges which made it difficult for impoverished Italians and Blacks to get ahead. My parents sent me to Canada, determined that I receive a better education so that one day, I could fulfill my dream to fight for justice and make a positive change.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
I am where I am now as a result of strong faith (The belief that there is a God guiding me), the love and care of a single mother, a phenomenal mentor, supportive people, a tremendous amount of self-control and zeal. The future holds more successes in my endeavors and social justice/mobilization initiatives.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered as an individual that did not let adversity, struggles, hardship, circumstances stop her from fulfilling her dream to fight for justice and make a positive change. A woman that lived by "If you believe, You will achieve!"
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
Food: Anything and everything Italian
Book: Yet to be read
Music: I'm very eclectic, my love for music spreads across all genres
Movie: White House Down had my eyes glued to the screen even made me cry at a point on a flight
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
My experience as a Black person in Canada has been splendid for the most part because I haven't allowed being a visible minority work against me nor have I accepted that my chances of being great are less than my Caucasian peers. I take an optimistic approach to the challenges present in Canada and use it as motivation to work harder so one day I can live the life I dream of. In times of great adversity, it's always best to keep busy and transfer unpleasant emotions and energy into something positive. Be part of the eradication of the hardships instead of allowing yourself to be a subject. I believe the adversity I face as a black person in Canada has aided me in becoming who I am today. "Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful." Zig Ziglar
What is the Black community doing right or wrong in Canada?
What's right? There are many people in the community who are doing their very best to right the wrongs of racism, discrimination and the legacies of slavery in this country through volunteer work or outright work in the community. They are working towards cultivating a strong and thriving Black community. Many people and organizations focus on empowering and supporting youths, families, students, and professionals. The Black Business and Professionals Association (BBPA) is an example of a Black Canadian organization doing right for the community. Amongst their many initiatives; they have a national scholarship fund that has helped hundreds of students in need of financial support to achieve their academic goals over the last 25 years. I received a BBPA scholarship in 2011 for my academic achievements and devotion to the community. It felt good to know that the Black community was fueling my vehicle to success.
What wrong? Our community is not living up to its full potential. Members of our community are over-represented where it comes to youth unemployment, low income jobs, failure to complete high school, high incarceration rates, etc. We are under-represented where it comes to high paying, managerial jobs, positions of power and influence, political representation, etc. There are many ways to access the various levers of success, however, collectively, we are not participating in society enough (voting, running for public office, volunteering locally, etc) and therefore not reaping the benefits of what this country has to offer or meeting our full potential.
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models and institutions like Beyonce, Tyler Perry, Obama, BET, etc:
How can Canada have an Obama, if we hardly have any Blacks running for office? There are opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models and institutions which already exist, however Black Canadians are overly obsessed with America, blinding them from seeing how we can support our leaders and strengthen our institutions.
What’s your understanding of Black History in Canada?
Black History in Canada is often overshadowed by the popular American Black History - Most Canadians don’t seem to recall the likes of Anderson Abbott, Anne Cools, or William Hall. They are by far more familiar with the likes of Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, or Harriet Tubman. In 2011 I revamped the annual student run Black History Month at my high school assembly by introducing Canadian history. In previous years, the content was solely based on American historians. I focused on the Black heroes and heroines that made an impact in Canada. They were honoured through readings discussing equity and human rights, prejudice and discrimination, enslavement, African and Caribbean heritage, forgotten stories, Black contribution, Black Canadian firsts and the origin of Black History Month. I called the show “Your Black is an Art”, which was also the title of my monologue that I used as a vehicle to empower all visible minorities and reinforce the idea that they must look beyond obstacles and never make their race an excuse for their misfortunes.