About BLAC

Board of Directors

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Ayderus Alawi


Ayderus’ commitment to community issues has spanned over 10 years and has been reflected in the work/projects he has participated in. This work has included a position as a Youth Worker in a Toronto District School Board suspension program where he routinely interacted with a diverse group of youth who had negative interactions with the police and other criminal justice actors. 

These interactions required that he advocate on their behalf in court as many of the youth that he worked with were arbitrarily detained, searched and assaulted by Police Officers and Toronto Community Housing Security Officers. This work also included facilitating workshops that discussed their rights and responsibilities when interacting with the Police and Toronto Community Housing Security Officers and assisting them with the Police Complaints process. 

Ayderus is the co-founder and Executive Director of Beyond the Lyrics Youth Resource Centre, a youth-led, grassroots organization that supports youth by addressing access issues (access to resources, education and justice). 

Ayderus continued to be involved in community and advocacy work while attending Osgoode Hall Law School through his work as a Youth and Education Division Leader with C.L.A.S.P., Osgoode’s Legal Aid Clinic. He completed his final semester of law school in the Criminal Intensive Programme.     

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Thando Hyman

Vice Chair

Thando Hyman’s dynamic leadership and innovative school practices has been recognized by community, national and international media.
Her professional career includes over 20 years of administrative experience in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), as Principal, Instructional leader, and Literacy Convener. She was the first Principal of Toronto’s ground breaking Africentric Alternative School, served as Lead Principal for 22 TDSB schools and was Course Director and Adjunct Professor at York University’s Faculty of Education.
Ms. Hyman’s extensive community work includes having been host of the “African Woman & Family” on 89.5 CIUT FM radio, being founding board member of the African-Canadian Legal Clinic, past chair and Board member of the African Heritage Educators Network and TVO Ontario. She currently works with educators to implement Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy and continues to support students and lead professional learning on Black Student excellence.

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Neto Naniwambote

Chair/ Interim Treasurer

Neto Frank Naniwambote is a Licensed Legal Practitioner and is a member of the Law Society of Ontario and Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario (AJEFO). He is the founder and executive director of NNWAMBOTE LEGAL SERVICES. Neto’s practice encompasses a variety of legal areas—including, but not limited to, torts, accident benefits, provincial offences, summary convictions, human rights, residential tenancies, and immigration; Neto has appeared in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Ontario Court of Justice, Small Claims Court and various tribunals on numerous legal matters—including motions, mediations, pre-trial hearings, settlement conferences, examinations for discovery, and trials.

Neto is currently serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Harriet Tubman Community Organization—a not-for-profit organization for Black/African youth that provides services and programs to promote Black/African heritage, academic success, and leadership and life skills in Black/African youth. He also served as Chair of the Board of Directors of IGNITE.

Neto holds a Bachelor’s Degree in ParaJuriste Studies, a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting Management (Honours), and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Physics (Honours). He speaks English, French, Portuguese, and Dutch/Afrikaans.

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Selwyn A. Pieters

Immediate Past (Ex Officio) Chair

Selwyn is an experienced litigator licensed to practice law in Ontario, the Republic of Guyana and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. He has appeared at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court of Appeal. He has also appeared in numerous trials in the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice.

Selwyn is also a human rights activist and lawyer with a commitment to grass root community work and fearless advocacy. He successfully represented himself in the human rights case of Peel Law Association v. Pieters 2013 CarswellOnt 7881, 2013 ONCA 396, 116 O.R. (3d) 81. He also appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada for the Montreal based Center for Research-Action on Race Relations in Quebec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse) v. Bombardier Inc. (Bombardier Aerospace Training Center), 2015 SCC 39, [2015] S.C.J. No. 39), in which the Court adopted the analytical framework in Pieters as an accurate statement of the law in proving discrimination.

Prior to entering private practice, Selwyn was a Refugee Protection Officer at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. He has guest lectured at law schools in Ontario including Toronto, Osgoode, Queens, and Windsor. Selwyn is a contributor to the ebook “Civil Procedure and Practice in Ontario”. Selwyn is the President of the Toronto Centre of Learning & Development.

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Valarie Steele

Secretary of the Board and Chair of the Nominations Committee

Valarie Steele is a veteran community activist and community leader. She was a Vice President and President of the Jamaican Canadian Association for several terms, and was the president of the Jamaican Diaspora Canada Foundation.  She has also served in numerous other, capacities and boards and committees and organizations throughout Toronto’s Black community and as one of two Canadian representatives/Directors on the Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board, which advises the Jamaican government, through its Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, on matters of import to the diaspora and in particular to Jamaicans residing in Canada. Valarie is the vice president of Black Action Defense Committee Inc.

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Jacobet (Edith) Atieno Wambayi


Edith is Founder and Executive Director of Uzima Women Relief Group International. Uzima provides care and support to families affected by poverty, war and disease with particular focus on women and children living with HIV/AIDS globally.

Edith was a Senior Research Officer at the Kenya Medical Research Institute until she immigrated to Canada in 2001. As well as working on other diseases such as malaria, Edith has worked in the HIV/AIDS field since the first case was diagnosed in Kenya in the early 1980s.

Since coming to Canada, she has continued to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. She works with several Provincial, National and International AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) as well as non-ASOs facilitating community-based education and research.

Edith serves on several Boards and Committees providing health and social services to marginalized communities including those serving African people. She is the former President of Abeingo Association Canada currently supporting AIDS orphans and other needy children in Kenya. From 2007 – 2015, Edith was a member of the Ministerial Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS advising the Federal Minister of Health, Canada on the Federal Initiative on HIV/AIDS.

Edith is also owner of her own Consulting Firm Health and Life Promotion Research Consultancy (HELP) providing research and community education and support services locally and internationally. Edith’s international work includes working in Bangladesh as a WHO Advisor to the Bangladeshi government.

Edith is a holder of a PhD and MSc in Medical Sciences, a Bachelor’s degree in Education/Science, a Diploma in Community-Based Program Planning and Management, and several certificates in the health and social services fields.

Edith is a mother of 4 and grandmother of 5 children.