ANITA EHUI - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
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?
I am Canadian born with Ghanaian ancestry. I was raised in Ottawa, Ontario. In April 2009 I was selected amongst 23 other Ottawa students to participate in the Ontario government’s Summer Company program. Summer Company is a youth business grant program that allows students to start their own small business. I started an online boutique called Freakum Dress Couture that has now evolved into a fashion brand (FD Couture). To this day, I’m grateful for the many opportunities the program provided me. In university, I was quite the busy body. On top of my academic load, I was involved with numerous extracurriculars on campus like the Ghanaian Students association and CUSA. Following the Summer Company Program, I was awarded the Ontario government’s Global Edge bursary. The Ontario Global Edge program played a significant role in improving my business skills by providing me with a unique opportunity to do an international internship. Through the Global Edge internship program, I spent time in Ghana, West Africa interning for Ghanaian Fashion Designer Mina Evans. While in Ghana I also volunteered for an NGO called Wishes Alliance. That summer I witnessed how motivated and hands on the young people were in Accra. They were creating opportunities for success instead of waiting for things to just fall into place. I knew I had to come back and be apart of the movement. A year later, here I am in Ghana, a new university graduate, business development manager, fashion designer, and MTV Voices presenter.
Tell us what many people may not know about you?
Many people don't know that I can be quite shy and sensitive at times although I have a very strong personality.
What's your inspiration and how do you get motivated?
I'm inspired by traveling, culture, creativity, and ambition. I am more inspired by local role-models who I watched evolved into the influential people they are today, more than popular celebrities in the media. To me, their success is more realistic and familiar. It continues to motivate me and show me that people in the same environment, position, and age as me can make major achievements given the right opportunity and hard work.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
My family, friends, life experiences, faith, and ambition have gotten me to this point in life. My faith in God has always given me the courage to continue working towards my dreams. When you limit yourself you limit your potential. You should expect to be seeing me do more presenting gigs, runway shows and reaching out to the youth. I am a strong advocate of youth and women's empowerment.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for my smile (a representation of my contentment and happiness).
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
It is so difficult! I try to take advantage of social medias as not only a personal outlet but as communication between friends and family. It's a part of my lifestyle. Between twitter, Skype, Facebook and whatsapp I manage to reach out to everyone important to me. I am always working! Even in my free time. I love being productive, being organized allows me to manage everything efficiently. I grant myself at least one vacation a year to somewhere amazing (this year was the UK and Dubai).
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
My favourite food is atteike and tilapia its an Ivorian specialty that my dad's family always made for me. My favourite book is Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selassie, she is a brilliant author who knows how to embody the realness of cross-cultures(she's a cultural hybrid) in her books. I love afrobeats it gets me dancing all the time. My favourite movie is the last song.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
When I was younger it was fun. I was the only black girl in my class and everyone wanted to be my friend. As I grew up I understood the context of my popularity. I was the token black girl in a predominantly white school. My presence and friendship was an illusion of diversity. After awhile I started learning more about my culture as a Ghanaian- Canadian and started getting more involved with the community. By the time I was in university I was president of the Ghanaian Student association and highly active in all the black associations. It was important to me to make sure I was giving back to the communities that created my identity.
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models and institutions like TD Jakes, Beyonce, Tyler Perry, Obama, BET, etc:-
Yes, I believe we are very fortunate to be Canadians because there are so many entrepreneurial opportunities for us to take advantage of. The resources are there but it is up to us to take initiative and start our own institutions that benefit our people instead of defaulting to already established institutions in the states like BET. Many Black Canadians become successful and leave Canada and don't strengthen the communities which groomed them to be the people they are today.
Mention a few of your favorite Black Canadian Leaders, Artists and Role Models?
Michaëlle_Jean, Gwen Madiba, Menaye Donkor, Jackie Appiah, Herieth Paul and Drake.
Should and do Blacks support / patronize black music, events and businesses?
I feel as if they do. Of course, they can do a much better job in helping each other once they get into higher positions. I always say that when you are blessed with success its, not in vain. You are blessed with success to also bless others with opportunity.
What’s your understanding of Black History in Canada?
I was never really thought much about Black history in Canada besides the black community in Nova Scotia who have slave ancestry from the underground railroad. I think that we should be educated on Black history in Canada versus just slavery in the States.
A few words from you to an uninspired person?
Always be ambitious no dream is ever too big, and when you become successful don't forget to help someone else reach success too.
Presenter | MTV Voices