Black Canadians




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 Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list )

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Tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Harriet Tinka. I am originally from Uganda and take pride in my roots. I am family oriented and the third born out of seven siblings.  I believe I am a perfect example of finding a need in the community and filling it. My students call me a “Powerhouse Role Model who makes being genuine the most powerful thing of all”.  A few years ago when I was attending university, my dream was to become a supermodel.  My dreams were shattered when a jealous boyfriend who was obsessed with me kidnapped me, threatened to cut my body in pieces and burn my body. He stabbed me twice on the left leg and abandoned me for death.  I was in the worst shape any human can ever be. I struggled with depression and isolation.  I was one day inspired by a little girl on a wheelchair who said to me “ move forward and use your pain to inspire others” With my positive attitude and relentless traits, I decided to live a life with no limitations and inspire teens.

I started teaching in modeling schools on building self-esteem and loving yourself unconditionally.  My inspiration was contagious.  Soon parents and teens were looking to me to get inspiration.  With all the support and encouragement I got, I started doing workshops in 2013 to instill this energy to the young people.  My workshops are titled “I Believe in Me Because…”   They combine modeling sessions and self-esteem strategies to discover new ways to achieve goals and have the most life-changing and empowering journey. These uplifting workshops have been featured in the media as being effective in reducing youth bullying and building self-confidence.  And as a result, I was nominated in the Educator category for the 31st YWCA Women of Distinction Awards. Every teen in the program leaves with an experience of a lifetime.  My mission is to offer the most innovative, empowered, life-changing, sustainable, supportive and professional workshops to all youths. Also, support all youths to have a sense of purpose and live to their full potential.

I like to give back to the community.  I volunteer in the in-school mentoring at inner-city schools and absolutely enjoy all the moments spent with the pre-teens.  They inspire me to become a better person. I also do several charity fundraising events.  

Furthermore, I believe in mental toughness training. I participated and completed the 12-mile Tough Mudder 2013 Whistler military challenge.  My message is that there are no limits on what one can achieve when we remove all the mental barriers we set for ourselves.

I strive to be the best at everything I do and believe if you give light to people, they will find their way. In addition to working with charities, I have been involved in team sports and been awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in race-walks, 5 Km and 10 Km run. I feel blessed to be able to empower the young children of today.  As a designated Certified Management Accountant, I know the value of a good education.  I believe living in an environment with gratitude, believing in oneself and dreaming big is the way to connect to the world.   

Tell us what many people may not know about you?
People may not know that I can’t ride a bicycle.

What's your inspiration and how do you get motivated?
My motivation comes from how you finish a challenge.  Finishing strong inspires me.  I am inspired by people who give back to the community.

How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
My adversities got me to my current state.  I have only hit the tip of the iceberg.  I want the world to expect more of me.  I want to give back as I move forward.

What would you like to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered globally for my unshakeable commitment and focus on wanting every child to feel valued self-assured, empowered and never faced with isolation, negativity, fear or disempowerment. I want to be remembered as somebody who made a difference in helping young people have a sense of purpose and live life to their full potential

How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
I aim for “life work harmony” on a daily basis by integrating work, friends, and leisure to complement each other rather than compete with each other. I embrace the little things in life such as watching a butterfly fly from tree to tree or seeing things from the perspective of a child. It really sets the stage on what’s important.

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What are your favorite food, book, music and movie?
Favorite food – Curry chicken
Favorite Book - I am a fan of self-help books.  My favorite is 7 Habits of Effective People - Stephen R. Covey
Favorite Music – I am inspired by Alicia Keys much the blend of pop, R&B and soul.
Favorite Movie – Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. The movie is hilarious and always makes me laugh.

What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
Honestly, I have had a great experience and since I present positive energy, I get the same back. However, history can be the root cause of racist ideas and assumptions. There is an assumption that all black students should be in sports and be good at them.   Educating the stereotype ideas is the key solution.

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.

I believe sky is the limit.  Opportunities in Canada are vast.  Just have to find your passion and pursue it!

Mention a few of your favorite Black Canadian Leaders, Artists and Role Models?
I have three women who inspire me:-

  1. - Ursula Burns who heads Xerox as the company’s CEO and chairwoman.  She is a powerful businesswoman who grew up in a housing project in New York.  She overcame diversity  is the first black woman to head a company of as big as Xerox

  2. - Maya Angelo –She’s an activist and really empowers women.  Her poem Phenomenon woman inspires me.

  3. - Harriet Tubman – Her courage and strength she had to rescue over 300 former slaves from the South and to Maryland truly inspire me.  Her drive to take on a task so dangerous yet believe you can overcome any obstacle inspires me

    Should and do Blacks support / patronize black music, events and businesses?
    I believe keeping a solid community is the key to successful growth.  Often I see a lack of support within our race.  For instance, when I was in Uganda growing up, there was tribalism.  In Canada, I saw the same thing.  We don’t support our own race if we find out we are not from the same country.  It’s such a shame. Unity is the solution.

What’s your understanding of Black History in Canada?
It is the history that shows contributions made by other Blacks in Canada. It portrays role models and a way of understanding the social forces which have shaped and influenced the community.  The greater Canadian community needs to know a history of Canada that includes all of the black contributions.