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NEXT LEVEL: Black Business Initiative announces new CEO; BlackNorth Initiative donates $15K to Nova Scotia's Black Cultural Centre

Matthew Martel will take over for Rustum Southwell on May 1. Meanwhile, the Black Cultural Centre received a $15,000 donation from the BlackNorth Initiative and Enbridge.

NEXT LEVEL: Black Business Initiative announces new CEO; BlackNorth Initiative donates $15K to Nova Scotia's Black Cultural Centre
Matthew Martel, right, will take over as CEO of the Black Business Initiative in Nova Scotia, on May 1. Outgoing CEO Rustum Southwell is retiring after 25 years. BBI PHOTO 

The Black Business Initiative (BBI), a Black non-profit organization in Halifax, has announced that Matthew Martel will succeed current CEO Rustum Southwell, who will retire on May 1.

Southwell served as CEO for 25 years.

“Being a part of the BBI has been a very fulfilling journey," Southwell said in a statement. “Congratulations to the organization and Matthew Martel as the BBI embarks on its next chapter. I am so very proud to see Nova Scotia setting the standards for Black entrepreneurs in Canada.”

The BBI owes many achievements to Southwell’s leadership, a statement reads. The introduction of Business is Jammin', Black Business Consulting, and Black Business Community Investment Fund Limited, programs that helped grow the organization from being a provincial presence to a regional initiative in Atlantic Canada and the country.

"We greatly appreciate the decades of exemplary service Rustum has brought to our organization," Joseph Parris, chair of the BBI's Black Business Initiative Society, said in a statement.

"We welcome Matthew to his new role as CEO, and as we move the organization forward through the continued tradition of success we have demonstrated and achieved over the past 27 years."

Martel says he’s ready to take on the role.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be leading the Black Business Initiative and I'm eager to work with the BBI team to continue our mission of promoting and supporting Black-owned businesses, Martel said. “I am confident that the organization will continue to make a real difference in the lives of black entrepreneurs and the communities in which we serve.”

Black Cultural Centre gets $15K from BlackNorth Initiative, Enbridge

Former Black Canadian senator Donald H. Oliver accepts a cheque from the BlackNorth Initiative and Enbridge for the Black Cultural Centre in Nova Scotia. BLACKNORTH PHOTO

The BlackNorth Initiative (BNI) has donated $15,000 to Nova Scotia’s Black Cultural Centre in celebration of its 40th anniversary.

The donation was given in tandem with Enbridge and former senator Donald H. Oliver, Canada’s first Black man and second Black person to be appointed to the senate.

Oliver serves as a board member and founding member of the BCC.

“When I learned at the BNI Gala that I had won the right to give $15,000 to a charity of my choice, I instantly thought of the Black Cultural Center because it has similar objectives to BNI, that is to promote equality, tolerance, equity, and diversity to help equalize the opportunities for Black Canadians. It was the perfect fit, so I am proud to be able to accept this generous cheque from Enbridge,” Oliver said in a statement.

The BBC is a museum that celebrates the history of African Nova Scotians and serves as a cultural gathering place for Black communities across the province.

Meanwhile, the BlackNorth Initiative is a non-profit organization that works to dismantle anti-Black racism in Canada and empower Black entrepreneurs and communities.