Board Member Profiles
President: Colleen Peters
Colleen began volunteering with CAMAT in 2014. Her first involvement was with the Black History Month Dinner and Gala. In May 2017, Colleen joined the Board of Directors assuming the role of President.
Colleen is involved in many different community organizations and dedicates much of her time to volunteering. She joined the CAMAT Board of Directors in hopes to use her experience and knowledge to help the organization build capacity and a larger presence in the Thunder Bay.
Colleen hopes that CAMAT continues to grow and build. Colleen hopes that CAMAT can continue to provide bursaries to youth and families through the CAMAT Scholarship Fund. Colleen also hopes that CAMAT will be successful in raising the profile of black people in Thunder Bay and building awareness around the diversity of cultures in the Caribbean and Africa.
Colleen has worked for the John Howard Society of Thunder Bay since 2007. Currently she is the Training & Development Manager.
Co-Vice President: Adetunde (Ade) Ogunberu
Ade joined the CAMAT Board of Directors in September 2018. After attending his first CAMAT event, Ade saw an opportunity to get more involved in the community and be involved in an organization aimed at welcoming new individuals to Thunder Bay.
Ade is the founder of MTC Immigration Services. Services assist individuals with coming to Canada temporarily or permanently. Ade also extends his work in assisting new individuals to Thunder Bay in his role as an International Student Advisor in the International Education Centre at Confederation College.
Ade joined CAMAT to help bring together the African and Caribbean community in Thunder Bay. Through providing support and engagement opportunities, Ade works to ensure that individuals feel welcomed when they first arrive to their new home.
Co-Vice President: Ron Ugorji
Ron began as a Member at Large for the Board in September 2017. After his term was completed, Ron stepped into the role of Co-Vice President. Ron’s work with CAMAT began back in 2012 as the AFCASA Board Representative during his term as the President for the African Caribbean Student Association at Lakehead University. Ron and his Board for AFCASA worked to revitalize the organization and unite the large international student population on campus. AFCASA partnered with CAMAT to bring different events to the Thunder Bay community and increase connection within the black community for students planning to stay as young professionals.
After university, Ron settled in Thunder Bay and is currently the owner of Steeper’s Tea. Ron also dedicates his time working with youth as a soccer coach.
Ron joined CAMAT in order to enrich the lives of black youths and families in Thunder Bay. His vision for CAMAT is to help families connect and grow in the community.
Treasurer: Alagie (Al) Gaye
Al is a passionate and dedication individual becoming a Director this year. Al began as a volunteer for the Folklore Fesitval after attending the Black History Month Dinner and Gala. Based on his experience, he saw the potential in CAMAT especially with the development and growth of the CAMAT scholarship fund. He has dedicated his expertise and knowledge in finance as well as his time to help strengthen CAMAT’s capacity.
After completing university at Nippising, Al relocated to Thunder Bay as a young professional and is currently an Assistant Branch Manager for TD Bank.
Al joined CAMAT as a way to support the growing black community, especially new comer youth. Al wants to see CAMAT work towards bringing the black community together to build connections and ‘family’ (community within community).
As a prominent professional in the community, Al also sees the potential for economic growth through promoting the many different employment opportunities in Thunder Bay. CAMAT is a place that young professionals considering relocation and those that have newly arrived, to connect with mentors as resources for networking and skill development.
Membership Coordinator: Nicole Croes
Born and raised on the One Happy Island Aruba for 18 years, Nicole decided to come to Canada, arriving to Thunder Bay in 2012. Nicole saw Canada as a place that offered tremendous opportunity to develop and grow.
Nicole graduated from Confederation College with an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration – Human Resources program. She continued her education at Lakehead University, completing a Bachelors Degree of Business Administration.
Nicole got involved with CAMAT because she enjoys being around people who remind her of her own island and the culture she comes. She strongly believes that together people can form a tighter community where we all come together and stay connected, while keeping cultural traditions alive.
Nicole sees CAMAT organizing big events such as bringing the Caribbean style Carnival Parade to Thunder Bay with the help of our black community members. She also sees CAMAT becoming the main center of connection where black community members will reach out for integration support and meeting other members within our community.
Website & Social Media Coordinator: Ezekiel Appoh
Ezekiel has been a dedicated Board Member since 2016. Ezekiel has lived in many different Canadian cities with his family’s final destination as Thunder Bay. While attending Lakehead University, Ezekiel was introduced to CAMAT and joined to increase his connections to other community members while contributing his time to help coordinate CAMAT community events.
After graduation in 2018, Ezekiel joined the RBC team. His volunteer efforts were recently recognized by RBC which presented Ezekiel with the Volunteer Cultural Engagement Award.
Ezekiel is passionate about improving the quality of life for people living in Thunder Bay. He joined CAMAT to help build stronger connections amongst families and individuals that choose to come to Thunder Bay. Ezekiel has served as the past Treasurer before stepping into his current role.
Youth Relations Director: Jendaya Hopkins
Jendaya recently joined the Board adding to her vast volunteer experience. Jendaya has been a volunteer with CAMAT since she was able to walk. Throughout her youth, Jendaya has spent much of her time volunteering for different community initiatives including Our Black Youth, a previous Thunder Bay youth initiative that provided black youth an opportunity to connect with each other.
Jendaya is currently a secondary student with plans of studying geography, history and women’s studies leading to a profession in teaching and counselling.
Jendaya became involved with CAMAT to help give youth a sense of community and recognition. Also, to help youth relate to their African and/or Caribbean roots recognizing that they may have a hard time finding connection in a small city. Her hope is to introduce youth to each other so they can have a community among themselves and support each other.
Her vision for CAMAT over the next three years is to see more CAMAT youth involved and connected in the community. A big hope is getting the youth together once a month to learn and try new things, and build life skills. Overall, Jendaya hopes to help the youth feel a sense of community in a safe and welcoming place.
Member At Large: Michelle MacKenzie-Lander
All the way from Trinidad-Tobago, Michelle came to Thunder Bay for school as a teenager. Once completing school, Michelle settled permanently in Thunder Bay and is one of the longest active members of CAMAT.
Michelle has served as a past President, Treasurer, Membership Director, and Member at Large. She has been instrumental in the development of CAMAT and is a direct connection (a liaison and support) between our ‘Wisdom’ members and the younger generations. Michelle works to ensure that youth keep their culture while balancing in their Canadian experience.
Michelle currently assists new comers and refugees with settling in Thunder Bay through her work with the Thunder Bay Multicultural Association. She has been the Folklore Festival Event Coordinator for over 5 years; the festival includes over 40 different cultural performances and presents 13 different food booths show casing food from around the world. This event sees thousands of community members in attendance.
Michelle re-joined the Board this year to assist with the next phase of development. She is dedicated to engaging the youth population and providing opportunities for connection and culture.
Member At Large: Vishnu Kowlessar
Vishnu is the longest standing Board Members of CAMAT. Vishnu has been dedicated to the CAMAT as a Director since its creation as CAMAC (Caribbean African Association of Canada). Relocating originally from Trinidad-Tobago, Vishnu settled in Thunder Bay making it his home for over 3 decades. The CAMAT Scholarship Fund was Vishnu’s dream when the organization first started. His dream is now a reality with offering support to black youth and families in Thunder Bay.
Vishnu not only has dedicated his time to CAMAT but also included his family. His children have been volunteers of the organization and have even served terms on the Board of Directors.
Vishnu’s guidance is valuable to the Board; he strengthens the link to our ‘Wisdom’ members and provides opportunities for younger generations to learn about their culture.
Vishnu continues to be involved with CAMAT as he sees the importance of ensuring that the African and Caribbean community are connected with each other for our youth. Vishnu values the importance of passing on traditions and cultural practices to the younger generations adding to the diverse mosaic of Canada.