2014 Excellence in Community Service Award – Itah Sadu

Itah Sadu

When meeting Itah Sadu, the first thing you will see is her smile, the first thing you will notice is her warmth.

As a dynamic entrepreneur and community builder, she utilizes creativity, leadership and teamwork to build infrastructure and legacy in communities.

Her objective is simple and to the point: To work with organizations that engage in programs for youth with the focus on education, pathways and community economic development.

From a chat with Sadu or a look at her resume, it is evident that her myriad projects, accomplishments and awards are a testament to her passion for community action and improvement on all levels, particularly as it relates to youth.

She has created youth programs that serve as models for job placement opportunities, skill development and leaders-in-training programming. Featured on the African Canadian History 2012 Poster, Sadu has contributed to the legacy of African Canadians with the naming of Toronto sites in honour of their contributions.

She is founder of the Walk with Excellence for schools in Toronto west and founding member of the annual Underground Freedom Ride in celebration of Emancipation Day.

Sadu is a bestselling children’s author, whose books are adopted by schools for curriculum and adapted to film. A contributor to the development of the Canadian publishing sector, Sadu is also founding member of the MY People Literary Awards and founding member of the Black Book Affair.

The social advocate has designed, planned, developed, implemented and evaluated programs for youth from Aboriginal and racialized communities residing in high density neighbourhoods. One such program is the Fresh Elements/Fresh Arts program – an initiative designed for youth to develop technical and production skills in the cultural industries.

From that initiative emerged the excellence of musicians Jully Black, Saukrates, and Kardinal Offishall. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the program has become part of the youth-led conference, Manifesto.

It is fair to say that Itah Sadu is an artist at heart. At any level of her community involvement, there is often an element of art.

She advocated for and advised as grant officer for the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, new criteria for diverse artists by collaborating with Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and Scarborough Arts Council. This resulted in community-based youth arts initiatives and spaces (i.e., Art Start) and the training of staff in Arts organization to be sensitive to equity issues.

Sadu collaborated with school boards (TDSB, TCDSB, Peel, York Region etc.) colleges and universities (i.e., York, U of T) across the province of Ontario and Canada in providing opportunities for students, youth and educators to be exposed to educational and artistic experiences from diverse communities (i.e., Nobel Peace Prize presentation in TDSB by African Diaspora Scientists, Bicentenary of the Abolition of Slavery).

A 15-year successful bookstore entrepreneur — “A Different Booklist” — Sadu is a board member of Caribbean Canadian Literary Expo (CCLE) with a purpose to support the recruitment of youth as volunteers at literary events, to encourage young emergent writers and illustrators and youth interested in self-publishing and e-book applicants.

Ms. Sadu is also a Harry Jerome Scholarship Trustee and board member with a purpose to build awareness of scholarships and grant opportunities for youth.

Holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from York University, Itah Sadu has received numerous awards and certifications, some of which include: Sesheme Hero Amongst Us; Black Business and Professional Association, Women of Honour; Toronto Arts Council Foundation; and the African Canadian Achievement Award for Excellence in Business.