GemStar Wall of Excellence

Honoring 5 Young Women of Excellence

Akilah NewtonAkilah Newton

Akilah Newton, impassioned activist, entrepreneur and author, studied music, drama and dance, performing in college productions and the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. In 2003 she entered the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and earned a BA in Arts, Music and Entertainment Management. Back in Montreal, she founded Overture with the Arts (OWTA) to make the arts and social awareness accessible to youth from all walks of life. One popular program is the annual Black History Month school tour, which criss-crosses Canada using music and the spoken word to educate youth about Canadian Black History. Akilah also founded Akilah Newton Projects Inc., celebrating diversity in ethnicity, gender and orientation through literature, games and art. In  2018 she co-wrote the children’s book Big Dreamers: The Canadian Black History Activity Book for Kids  Volume 1, highlighting achievements by Black Canadians whose stories are often left untold. She recently  co-wrote and self-published a second volume. This year, Akilah launched her first full-colour children’s  storybook, Movers, Shakers, History Makers: The Canadian Black History Book of Rhymes.

Kelsey WalkerKelsey Walker

Kelsey Walker, is the founder and CEO of Kings and Queens 

Give, a non-profit organization focused on helping marginalized youth  across Canada. When she is not pursuing this passion, she hosts live Instagram discussions on mental health, financial literacy and self-love. Kelsey’s proudest moments to date have involved raising over $3,000 solely on the strength of social media to provide clothes, food and hair care products to shelters in Toronto and Ottawa. She also takes pride in hosting brunches and special events during which she captivates audiences with her outgoing personality and contagious energy. Kelsey is also an advocate for change and will not shy away from speaking up when something is wrong. When beauty supply stores were forced to close during the lockdown while big brand stores were allowed to sell the same products, Kelsey  took it upon herself to contact Québec Premier Legault and several MNAs to have that decision reviewed  and changed.

Herla OsiasHerla Osias

 Herla Osias, an entrepreneur of Haitian origin, is flourishing in  her adopted land, Québec. Thriving in the legal field as a paralegal, she decided to be bold and realize her dream, creating her own event  planning business in 2013. Through her company’s achievements  over the years, she has forged bridges with major organizations in her  community and built an enriching network of satisfied customers.  She has thus contributed to major events attracting crowds of 1,000  to 30,000 people. Herla’s philanthropic spirit has made for a perfect  marriage with organizations that share her values of integrity, sharing  and positive harmony among people. Her enriching network and  satisfied clientele make her a key player in our community, which she  has served for almost three years as Executive Administrative Manager  of the Côte-des-Neiges Black Community Association. Thanks to her organizational acumen, Herla is able  to manage her company, Coco Events, while at the same time helping organizations that need her talent  to make a radiant society a reality.  

Latoya BelfonLaToya Belfon

LaToya Belfon, author, elementary school teacher and entrepreneur earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education from McGill University and  a Diploma of Collegial Studies in Social Science from Vanier College.  She has used her experience with young children, her love of writing  and her interest in adding diverse voices to storytelling in Canada to  write, illustrate and self-publish six children’s books centred on themes  of parenthood, friendship, holiday traditions, multicultural education and cultural diversity. LaToya has also created a goal-setting guide and social media platform to encourage, motivate and provide resources and guidance to women seeking success in all areas of their lives. This platform is called The Winning Woman’s Guide to Goal Crushing. This year’s goal is to build her publishing company in order to provide opportunities for  others to impact the world positively through their own stories. “I learned the most from others when I  appreciated the wealth that their experiences, culture and values had to offer to my worldview.”  


Petra StewartPetra Stewart

Petra Stewart, a lawyer licensed in Canada and the United States,  is currently a senior legal counsel at a commercial security systems  company. In the past, she was an in-house counsel of an entertainment  company and a law clerk for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court  of the Virgin Islands. Petra graduated from Emory University School  of Law in Atlanta with a Juris Doctor; the University of Pennsylvania  in Philadelphia with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics, Philosophy and  Economics; and Vanier College with a Diploma of Collegial Studies in  Liberal Arts. She has held an Internal Energy and Natural Resources Committee editor position for the Year-in-Review Journal of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law. She has also authored and co authored articles published in that Journal. Petra has provided pro bono transactional  legal services to Atlanta based non-profit organizations and has assisted a Montréal legal clinic for artists  with intellectual property law reference materials. She enjoys travelling, hiking, photography, reading  and food. 


Program of The Day 

Emcee – Eramelinda Boquer, Journalist, Social Activist,Weather Specialist, Communications Consultant  and 2019 ACTRA Montreal Woman of the Year. / Kwabena Oduro, Video Journalist at CBC/Radio-Canada 

2:00 Opening by M.C.’s 

2:10 Welcome Address by President, Gemma Raeburn-Baynes 

2:15 Tea drinking and socializing (Music DJ20) 

2:20 Greetings from Marvin Rotrand, City Councillor Ville de Cote des Neiges.  

2:25 Honoree presentation: Akilah Newton, Herla Osias, Petra Stewart, Kelsey Walker, LaToya Belfon, 2:50 Entertainment – Eddie Bullen & Sons 

3:00 Elevated Conversation with Sophia Bishop 

3:40 Modelling of Tea Party Outfits & Tea Cup Competition 

3:50 Special prizes & Music 

4:00 Close 

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