Inspirational storytelling, music, food and community made for a night to remember when U of T Scarborough welcomed Wes Hall, Canadian business leader, entrepreneur and Dragon from CBC’s Dragons' Den, to campus.
On Nov. 23, Hall, local and campus community members – including mentors and mentees from the Imani Black Academic Mentorship Program, students in the Toronto Housing Be Build Brand entrepreneurship program, and alumni from Hall’s high school, Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute – all heard stories about Hall’s rise from humble beginnings in rural Jamaica to becoming one of Canada’s 50 most influential people.
In a fireside chat with Neel Joshi, dean of student experience and wellbeing (OSEW), Hall shared stories from his recently launched memoir, No Bootstraps When You’re Barefoot: My rise from a Jamaican plantation shack to the boardroom of Bay Street.
Hall, also the founder of the BlackNorth Initiative, spoke on topics ranging from experiences with anti-Black racism to navigating learning opportunities as an up-and-coming entrepreneur.
Hall, who grew up in Scarborough following his immigration to Canada, was welcomed back with music from Scarborough musician King Turbo, patties from Durham-located Patty Gyal and rapid-fire trivia and prizes from social media ambassador for the region Scarborough Spots.
“What you’re hearing today is that you define what is rightfully yours and you don’t allow someone else to do that for you,” said Wisdom Tettey, principal of U of T Scarborough and U of T vice-president in closing remarks.
“When you allow someone to define you, they can shrink you as much as they want, but when you allow yourself to do what you know you are capable of – the world is your territory to play in,” said Tettey.
The event was captured through the lenses of U of T Scarborough photographer Sean Liliani: