Frequently Asked Questions

"In our continued commitment to transparency and openness, we will be sharing important information to provide answers to questions from our community members. Please watch this space as we will continue to add more information over time." - BBPA Board of Directors

When is the BBPA Board planning to hold the next all-members meeting?

As the independent investigation and reviews draw to a close in the coming weeks, the BBPA Board will call a meeting of the members, as prescribed by the BBPA bylaws. The purpose of this meeting will be to present the findings and recommendations, seek input, and detail the forward plans for the BBPA.

How and when did the BBPA Board respond to the calls by BBPA founder Dr. Denham Jolly for the current BBPA Board to resign?

Before and after Dr. Jolly’s public statements, which included his call for the BBPA Board to resign, the Interim Chair of the Board reached out to Dr. Jolly with offers to meet and discuss the proactive actions being undertaken by the Board. 

On June 18, 2024, the BBPA Board also sent a formal response to Dr. Jolly’s letter to the board dated June 7, 2024, reiterating our offer to meet with him. The proposed meeting would, in part, detail why the BBPA Board has a fiduciary duty of care to see the investigative reviews through to completion. You can access our formal response to Dr. Jolly’s letter by clicking here.

Does the BBPA Board of Directors have the authority to terminate a member?

YES. Section 50 (Termination of Membership) and Section 51 (Power to Discipline or Terminate a Member) of the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA), and Section 2.03 and 2.04 of the BBPA By-Laws, stipulate that a Board has the right to formally terminate and/or discipline a member. ONCA and the BBPA By-Law also provide terminated or suspended members with a process to appeal such a decision.

Has the BBPA continued to support important in-community programs in 2024 given the recent challenges facing the organization?

Between January and the end of May 2024, the BBPA has been actively engaged in delivering a range of impactful programs and services to the Black professional community in Canada. Here are some of our key achievements during this period:

Youth Employment and Support: The BBPA successfully placed nearly 80 Black youth in employment positions, providing them with valuable work experience and opportunities for professional growth. Additionally, through the ADaPTProgram, we have facilitated subsidies for approximately 30 Black small business owners to pay their staff, helping to support and sustain these businesses.

Black History Month Panel: In February, we hosted an insightful Black History Month panel at the Globe and Mail, focusing on “Enduring and Thriving Despite Adversity – Race in Canada.” This event brought together thought leaders and community members to discuss important issues and celebrate the resilience and achievements of the Black community in Canada.

Ask A Professional Series: We have educated 541 participants on various entrepreneurial and professional topics through our ongoing “Ask A Professional” series. This weekly event continues to attract new attendees seeking advice from industry experts in a wide range of fields.

Financial Literacy Education: Through our Community Space initiative, 336 people have received essential financial literacy education, equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to manage their finances effectively and make informed financial decisions.

BAIDS Thursday: Our Business Advisory Implementation Development Services (BAIDS) program has provided expert advice to 297 entrepreneurs, helping them navigate the challenges of running a business and achieve their professional goals.

Rise Up Women’s+: We have trained over 200 Black women entrepreneurs on topics ranging from financial management to digital marketing through the Rise Up Women’s+ program. Additionally, we awarded nearly $100,000 in grants to support their business ventures, fostering economic growth and empowerment within this vital community segment.

Mentorship Sessions: Our mentorship sessions have been instrumental in supporting the professional development of young Black individuals. Fifty youth attended sessions focused on communication skills and dealing with microaggressions, helping them navigate and succeed in various professional environments.

BBPA Black Excellence Awards: Formerly known as the Harry Jerome Awards, the BBPA Black Excellence Awards celebrated 13 distinguished awardees this year. The event saw nearly 1,000 people in attendance, including dignitaries from various political parties, highlighting the significance and recognition of Black excellence in Canada.

Little Jamaica: The Retail Strategy Project, headed by Divercities Advisory, aims to identify actions that can preserve and expand the 89 existing Black businesses and attract new Black businesses to the area. This year, about $400,000 in commercial rehabilitation and façade grants have been enabled by the BBPA to improve the streetscape and support the revitalization of Little Jamaica.

These initiatives demonstrate the BBPA’s continued commitment to empowering the Black community through education, mentorship, financial support, and professional development. We look forward to building on these successes and achieving even greater impact in the coming months.

How has the BBPA Board responded to the request for the BBPA Membership List from select members?

On April 21, 2024, the BBPA received an anonymous request for the BBPA Membership List via Miller Thompson. Protecting and safeguarding the privacy of our members is very important to the BBPA Board, and as such, we deemed it irresponsible to share the members’ list with anonymous individuals. More recently, we received requests from two new BBPA members (who have been members for less than 60 days) for the BBPA Membership List. In full compliance with the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA), we have invited these members, Mr. Fernando and Mr. Oraka, to meet our team at the BBPA head office during business hours, providing specific dates within the next two weeks. As stipulated by ONCA, both BBPA members have signed a statutory declaration affirming that they will ONLY USE the BBPA Membership List as permitted by ONCA. Once a date is confirmed and these members attend the meeting at our offices, the BBPA Board will provide access to an extract of the BBPA Membership List, as prescribed by ONCA (for a nominal administrative fee allowed under ONCA regulations), and we will be happy to answer any questions they may have. For your additional information and ease of reference, here is a link to ONCA. Section 95 and 96 of the Act specifically addresses access to extracts from the records.https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/10n15#BK108

What has the Board done since being appointed in November 2022 to strengthen the organization?

Since being appointed, the current Board has worked diligently to create and strengthen Board policies and procedures to ensure strong governance of the organization.
Examples of the BBPA Board in action include:

  • Enhancing the BBPA procurement policies and procedures, particularly around third-party engagements.
  • The Board created a new volunteer finance and audit committee in January 2023 made up of the BBPA treasurer, a BBPA director, and three external people including two Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA), and one senior finance professional.
  • Strengthened bank reconciliation, budget, disbursement, and income handling policies and procedures which all went into effect June 1, 2023.
  • Strengthened governance around signing authorities and increased financial controls.
  • Engaged a forensic auditor and a law firm with expertise in charity and non-profit law and governance to conduct a review, examine the claims and provide recommendations
  • Each Board member contributed volunteer hours in support of various BBPA programs including the Rise Up pitch competition, Awards event, Ask a Professional, and many others.

The Board is dedicated to steering the BBPA through this process, and to come out as a stronger institution. We are dedicated to our mission to celebrate and support Black excellence in Canada and will continue to act in the best interest of the organization.

What has the BBPA done to address the claims made in the media?

We strongly believe in the need for accountability, transparency, and governance. Once concerns were raised, the BBPA Board took the following decisive action:

  • Retained outside expertise and launched a review and forensic audit in upholding our responsibilities in ensuring good governance of the organization.
  • Any Board members with a possible conflict of interest stepped down and put the interests of the BBPA first, while the review and forensic audit takes place. This decision was voted on unanimously by the Board.
  • Engaging with members through ongoing communications and one-on-one discussions to listen to member concerns, commit to addressing them and provide ongoing details of the work underway. This includes the creation of this Frequently Asked Questions section which will be updated regularly through the process.

The BBPA Board remains committed to working with any members to address their concerns and we invite you to reach out to info@bbpa.org.

What is the scope of the review and forensic audit and when will it be completed?

To protect the integrity of the review and forensic audit, the Board will be limited in what specifics it can comment on while these processes are underway.

The Board went through a selection process that began in March of this year, to find the right forensic accounting firm. As of May 15, 2024, the review and forensic audit are underway. The Board hopes to provide an update on timelines in the coming weeks.

The Board is committed to providing ongoing updates and to ensure transparency at the conclusion of the review and forensic audit. The Board is committed to implementing all recommendations made in the best interest of the BBPA.

Have any Board members been paid by the BBPA either directly or indirectly for any work or services?

The current BBPA Board is made up of six elected volunteer, senior-level professionals, from across Canada with expertise and experience that contribute to, and add value to the BBPA.

All current Board members have not been contracted or engaged by the BBPA to provide services or receive fees or compensation for their voluntary role on the Board.

Learn more about your Board of Directors

Did the BBPA submit inaccurate information to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on its T3010 (Registered Charity Information Return) filing?

No. BBPA’s response to the question on C8 Line 3200 is accurate. This question is specifically about being compensated in one’s capacity as directors/trustees or like officials or persons not at arms length. In other words, were directors compensated for carrying out their duties as directors of the organization. Related party transactions are disclosed in accordance with general accounting standards in an organization’s financial statements, which are required to be provided to CRA alongside the T3010 return in order for the return to be considered complete. The BBPA has consistently followed the above in its reporting to CRA.

Why were the Draft Audited Financials changed from what was presented at the Annual General Meeting?

At the 2024 Annual General Meeting, a member requested the organization provide more details in its reporting around related party transactions, particularly in the notes section. The Board and organization were responsive to these requests. The related party transaction disclosure in the final audited financial statements, is now more robust and remains in accordance with the accounting standards.

How does the BBPA respond to concerns raised by ‘experts’ in CBC’s reporting?

The BBPA has raised concerns to CBC over the lack of journalistic rigor in its reporting of these claims. To our knowledge, Kate Bahen has had to apologize in recent years for false and misleading statements about charities in Canada.
We have expressed our concerns to CBC about their reliance on Ms. Bahen’s opinions.

How is the BBPA responding to the cease and desist demand by the estate of Harry Jerome?

The BBPA Board recognizes the immense legacy of Harry Jerome.

It’s why the Association has been honoured to have his name attached to our annual awards event, celebrating excellence in the Black community, for decades.

The BBPA was notified of this demand ten days prior to the awards ceremony. To respect the wishes of the estate, the BBPA took all reasonable measures to remove the name and likeness from the event.

The annual awards event is a storied tradition that honours the excellence of members of the Black community across Canada.

The BBPA Board has committed to the Estate that we will establish a committee to thoroughly examine the use of the name and likeness and its implications for the BBPA moving forward.

This year’s awards event was a resounding success with nearly 900 attendees and the support of key corporate sponsors. We awarded 13 deserving Black professionals, and key dignitaries such as Mayor Olivia Chow, NDP Leader and MP Jagmeet Singh, Mayor of Brampton, Patrick Brown and Aislinn Clancy, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario among many others, attended and addressed the sold-out room.

How has the BBPA responded to the claims brought forward?

On March 27, 2024, two anonymous individuals sent a legal communication to the Board, outlining concerns and requesting private and confidential member information, within 48 hours of receipt, which fell on Good Friday. Given that the BBPA is a small non-profit with six full-time employees and a complete volunteer Board, this was both unreasonable regarding the timeline for a response and of course, the BBPA Board unanimously agreed that it would be irresponsible to acquiesce to such a request by anonymous parties.

The Board took decisive action and began the process of identifying outside expertise for a review and forensic audit.

This process was delayed due to the anonymous complainants. Once the identity of one of the complaints was made public by CBC on April 26, 2024, it was discovered that there was a conflict of interest with the law firm that the BBPA had retained to conduct the review and the complainant Chandran Fernando.

This led to the BBPA having to re-start a procurement process in seeking new counsel to conduct the review, while incurring additional costs as a result of Mr. Fernando’s decision to initially stay anonymous.

The BBPA feels it’s important to flag some key details around Mr. Fernando’s relationship to the BBPA, given how CBC and others have portrayed it. Mr. Fernando joined the BBPA on March 25, 2024, two days before his counsel at Miller Thomson sent the first communication to the Board. At no point did Mr. Fernando contact the BBPA Board, or the independent finance committee about any concerns.

Miller Thomson is also representing the estate of Harry Jerome.

Despite claims in the media of being a ‘long-time donor’, the only record of any transaction with the BBPA from Mr. Fernando, was from 2019, when he purchased a table and advertisement for the BBPA awards.

Regardless, the BBPA Board takes our role as stewards and trustees of this vital organization seriously. It is why we have and will continue to take all claims seriously and ensure they are investigated.

Has the BBPA received funding from the federal government?

The BBPA receives funding from a variety of sources including businesses, individuals, governments, and agencies to fuel a multitude of community-based programs that support Black professionals, and entrepreneurs across Canada.

The BBPA has been the fortunate recipient of funding from the Government of Canada’s Ecosystem Fund – Black Entrepreneur Program. To date, we have received over $3M to deliver programs to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem for Black entrepreneurs across Canada.

The Government of Canada has recently reaffirmed the BBPA’s reporting and delivery are in good standing and good compliance with the rigorous audits and controls required as part of receiving funding from the program.

What is your response to the calls for the Board to disband?

With the review and forensic audit now underway, it would be irresponsible for the Board to step down at this critical juncture. We have a duty of care as stewards of the BBPA. This is something each and every Board member takes seriously. We recognize the critical importance of the BBPA to Black community in Canada.

The Board has taken decisive action and ensured there is no conflict of interest as this process is taking place. This is why directors who were on the Board at the time in question have stepped down from the Board while the external review and forensic audit take place.

Current Board members have no connections to the claims brought forward, and are volunteers who are committed to seeing the BBPA through this process, and continuing on our track record of strengthening governance and procedures to ensure the BBPA is delivering for the Black community.

Is the Board of Directors restricting access to the membership registry?

The BBPA is an organization with small but dedicated staff, who are committed to delivering the services Black professionals rely on. The Board of Directors has received requests and is working on it, in good faith, without jeopardizing the work of the BBPA and will resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

The Board has also taken steps to ensure it is on track to transition to the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) prior to the deadline of October 18, 2024.

What is the current status of the BBPA?

The BBPA continues to operate and deliver important services to the Black professional community in Canada.

The Business Advisory Implementation Development Services program has supported approximately 600 Black entrepreneurs and 75 Black Service providers over the last 4 years.

The RiseUp Pitch competition, supporting Black women entrepreneurs is well underway and we expect another impressive cohort to participate. Last year, more than 1,750 Black female entrepreneurs participated. 8 winners and 16 runner-ups were selected, with $112,000 awarded in grants.

Our National Scholarship Program is now open and will accept applications to support Black students from across Canada until July 1, 2024. Over the past 38 years the BBPA Scholarship Fund granted over 3500 scholarships totalling over $6 million.

The Black African and Caribbean Entrepreneurship Leadership (BACEL) Training Program. Engaged over 550 Black entrepreneurs across Canada, providing them with essential skills in financial literacy, business planning, and technology. Facilitated networking and business expansion opportunities, enhancing economic growth and community resilience. Participants have reported significant improvements in business operations and financial management.

Capital Skills Program. The BBPA worked with the Diversity Institute, the Future Skills Centre and other organizations to develop the innovative “Capital Skills” program. Unlike many other “financial literacy” programs, Capital Skills is focused on a single outcome: how to best help Black, Indigenous and other equity-deserving entrepreneurs secure funding through loans, grants or new business. This program impacted over 150 Black entrepreneurs by enhancing their access to capital and training in financial systems, securing approximately $1.3 million in funding with an 86% success rate. Adapted to economic fluctuations by expanding financial support, ensuring business viability and competitiveness during downturns.

Mentorship Program. Engaged over 500 people, providing Black youth with the tools and resources needed for workplace, educational and entrepreneurial success. Mentees reported increased confidence and support, gaining valuable industry insights and guidance on workplace navigation. Mentors benefited from enhanced leadership skills and the satisfaction of making a significant impact on mentees’ lives. The program provided valuable relationships and resources to Black youth, helping to close the opportunity gap.

The BBPA’s “Ask a Professional” series continues weekly, attracting new attendees looking for advice from industry experts in a wide range of fields.

Our Programs section has more information on all these programs listed and more.
Click here to learn more.

The Board is committed to the long-term sustainability of the organization and will remain steadfast in its obligations to act in the best interests of the BBPA and its members.

Support the Black Business and Professionals Association.
Make a donation today.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt