Another year and another major award for author, community activist and human resource professional Kimberlee Shelley-Ajibolade. This time, she walked across the stage to collect the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award.
Last year, Shelley-Ajibolade, who grew up in Kingston before migrating to Brampton, Ontario, was honoured with a Brampton Top 40 Under 40 award for leadership and making an impact in her community.
The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award, now in its 11th year, highlights inspiring stories of immigrants who have made incredible contributions to Canada.
At 30 years old Shelley-Ajibolade is determined to break down stereotypes and to continue to be a positive role model.
“This award is important to me because it is a very prestigious award and this wasn’t only city-special, but Canada-wide. Canada probably has pretty close to 300,000 immigrants and to be among the top 25 in the entire country, that is pretty amazing and kind of surreal. As well, I’m the only winner of Jamaican background this year,” she said.
“When I collected the award it was very surreal. I felt humbled and honoured. I feel a sense of full acceptance and belonging and it’s a victory not just for me, but for women, for those of colour, for Jamaica and all immigrants; and I’m happy I live in a country that embraces diversity and recognises it as its strength, though the accreditation and honour is not without hard work and dedication,” said Shelley-Ajibolade in an interview with The Gleaner.
The winners receive a commemorative plaque and a $500 donation to a charity of their choice. Shelley-Ajibolade donated the money to her local church, New Life Kingdom Ministries.
When The Gleaner caught up with Shelley-Ajibolade last year, she spoke about wanting to get into politics and has since worked on the campaign of Bampton’s Mayor Patrick Brown and currently serves on the mayor’s Black Advisory Council.
“Working on Mayor Brown’s campaign was great. I initially decided to work on the campaign simply because I believed in his vision and the city needed change, and the items he proposed could affect real change. But the experience was also a learning curve for me. It taught me how to look keener into everyday issues.”
Shelley-Ajibolade, with her plate full, still manages to take on more roles, such as becoming the district manager for the Brampton Chapter of Black Women Honours and Empowerment, a global initiative to honour, unite, and celebrate women, a career mentor and a licensed and ordained minister.
“I think I have quite a bit going on now and I want to harness those responsibilities to truly do justice to the roles, all while gaining more experience and exposure to prepare me for what’s to come. In addition to the above, I still work as the branch manager at Universal Staffing, and I’m on the board of directors and lead the praise and worship department, all while being a wife,” said Shelley-Ajibolade
By 2020, Shelley-Ajibolade is hoping to make her mark in Jamaica by starting with the Arnett Gardens, St Andrew-based Iris Gelly Primary School. She hopes persons reading her story will be inspired to follow their dreams.
“I think I will start with my alma mater, Iris Gelley Primary. I hope to launch a scholarship or bursary programme. I will have commenced conversations surrounding this with principal Gaynor, but the logistics and selection criteria are still to be determined,” she said.
“I would encourage persons to take whatever it is you are passionate about and turn it into service. Dream big. Nothing is impossible with hard work and dedication, and in the midst of it all, you need something to ground you and help you keep it together, and for me that’s my faith. My success and accomplishments is a result of me putting God at the centre of it all,” said Shelley-Ajibolade.
By: Carlene Davis