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NEXT LEVEL: Amanda Parris wins ACTRA Toronto’s Sandi Ross Award, Alexandre Bien-Aimé Bastien appointed as Superior Court judge in Quebec, and more

"Next Level" spotlights prominent Black Canadians who have been promoted, elevated, or honoured with a prestigious position, award, or monument. Check out Part 4 of the series.

NEXT LEVEL: Amanda Parris wins ACTRA Toronto’s Sandi Ross Award, Alexandre Bien-Aimé Bastien appointed as Superior Court judge in Quebec, and more
Left to right: ACTRA Toronto president David Gale; Leah Galloway (Jesse Griffiths Casting); Tanu Ravi (Jesse Griffiths Casting); Jesse Griffiths; Amanda Parris; Chattrisse Dolabaille; Janet Rose Nguyen. Parris. ACTRA TORONTO PHOTO

Award-winning writer, television producer, and radio host Amanda Parris was named a recipient of the 2022 Sandi Ross Award during an award ceremony on (Friday) Feb. 17.

Parris won the individual category at the ACTRA Toronto Awards for using her platform to be a fierce advocate for racial equity and elevate Black Canadian journalists and artists.

“I feel so privileged to get up every day and tell stories; stories that, to me, are vital, are important and, hopefully, are pushing conversations forward, so we’re not always talking about the same things over and over again,” Parris said in a statement. “I know I’ve only been able to do this kind of work and be in this place in my life because of folks who paved the road for me like Philip Akin, Karen King, Jennifer Hodge De Silva, M. NourbeSe Philip and of course, Sandi Ross.”

The creator of the CBC Gem series, “Revenge Of The Black Best Friend,” is known for other roles on shows like “The Exhibitionists.” She has also won a Canadian Screen Award for best writing on a web program or series with “21 Black Futures” and the Canadian Academy's Changemaker Award in 2022.

“Amanda provides a unique perspective that encourages each of us to do our part in examining the world we live in, with all its complexities and contradictions. The need to see true reflections onscreen of this complex world we live in is one that most everyone is aware of, but not everyone demonstrates the same commitment to that need that Amanda does,” ACTRA Toronto Diversity & Inclusion Committee co-chair Chattrisse Dolabaille said in a statement.

This was ACTRA’s fourth annual awards ceremony honouring Canadian storytellers and the theme was focused on diversity and inclusion.

The Sandi Ross Awards started as the Share The Screen Awards but was renamed in honour of Sandi Ross.

She was the first woman and person of colour to be president of ACTRA Toronto and was the founder of its first diverse talent directory, “Into the Mainstream.”

Past recipients of the Sandi Ross Awards include Thunderbird Entertainment and writer/producer Floyd Kane (2019), Winnifred Jong and Working the Scene in Colour founders Jessica Meya and Louis Taylor (2020), and Tracey Deer and TallBoyz II Men (2021).

Janet Rose Nguyen, ACTRA Toronto Diversity & Inclusion Committee co-chair, was also present and Toronto-based entertainment agency Jesse Griffiths Casting Inc. received an award.

Please visit the complete list of past recipients here. You can also view the awards ceremony below.

Bien-Aimé Bastien appointed Quebec Superior Court judge

Quebec Superior Court Judge Alexandre Bien-Aimé Bastien. JORDAN MAXWELL SCREENSHOT

Alexandre Bien-Aimé Bastien has been named a judge in the Superior Court of Quebec in Montreal.

Justice Bien-Aimé Bastien will replace former justice M. A. Paquette (Montreal), who was appointed chief justice of the Superior Court on June 2, 2022.

Fluent in French, English, and Haitian Creole, he was a partner with Shadley Bien-Aimé L.L.P., where he specialized in criminal law. Then, after entering private practice in Montréal, he clerked with the Honourable Thomas A. Cromwell at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Over the years, Bien-Aimé Bastien has taught various courses in criminal matters at the Faculty of Law at McGill University and was an instructor at events organized by the National Judicial Institute and the Association des avocats et avocates de la défense de Montréal.

Additionally, he was a member of the board of directors of the CAIJ and the Quebec branch of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers. He has co-authored a book, “Criminal Procedure: Cases and Materials.”

His promotion is the latest diversity appointment for the government and attorney general in the Superior Court ranks. Since 2015, 580 judges have been appointed, and more than half are women, Black, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQI+, and those who self-identify as having a disability, according to a statement.

Wes Hall, Beverly Glenn-Copeland to get U of T honorary degrees

Beverly Glenn-Copeland and Wes Hall will receive honorary degrees from the University of Toronto this spring. SUBMITTED PHOTOS/U OF T

Two Black business and community leaders have been named recipients of honorary degrees from the University of Toronto (U of T) this year and will address graduating students at convocation ceremonies in spring or fall, a statement for the university reads.

Kingsdale Advisors and WeShall Investments founder Wes Hall will be recognized for his outstanding service in removing systemic barriers affecting the Black community.

He also created the BlackNorth Initiative following George Floyd’s death in 2020 and partnered with U of T’s Rotman School of Management in 2021 to introduce Canada’s first Black entrepreneurship and leadership course, according to a statement.

Meanwhile, Beverly Glenn-Copeland has used music and art to produce a 50-year recording career that has attracted national and international acclaim. More importantly, as a Black trans artist, he is an advocate for Black and LGBTQ2S+ communities in Canada.

“Through their outstanding contributions to their respective fields and beyond, these exceptional individuals have each made a tremendous impact on the world,” said U of T president Meric Gertler. “Their innovation, vision and generosity are an inspiration to all members of the U of T community — and I’m delighted that we will have an opportunity to honour their achievements at our convocation ceremonies this year.”