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CAMSC BlackHistoryFinal Feb102023 Updated2

Cassandra Dorrington – CEO of CAMSC

CAMSC_Cassandra-Headshot_Feb8_2023.jpgBiggest challenges on your journey towards success and leadership

Happy Black History Month. My name is Cassandra Dorrington, I am the President & CEO of CAMSC. I am the second CEO to sit at the helm. The honour of this position came in an unexpected convergence of events. An accountant by profession bringing many years of corporate experience from my earlier career days to my entrepreneurial experience through my consulting practice led me to become one of CAMSC’s first certified suppliers. As a business owner, I was a strong believer in CAMSC’s work and was a strong advocate in my community, among my peers and clients. When I was asked to take over the mantle of leadership at CAMSC, I couldn’t refuse. To the suppliers in the community, I know your challenges, I have been there – and I have made a commitment as a leader of this organization to affect change.

Many of the challenges that you have faced as entrepreneurs were equally as challenging for me when I ran my business. These included such things as ensuring the clarity of my value proposition, building my confidence as a budding entrepreneur, and identifying and connecting with decision makers to grow my business. What I have also experienced is the bias as a black woman entrepreneur.

My life’s outlook has always been one of positivity based in realism. What is exciting is that with the establishment and growth of organizations like CAMSC, we are providing those supports, resources, and access to networks to address these very issues.

New supports and resources to address Capital Skills Training, Access to Capital, a growing entrepreneurial eco-system coupled evolving ESG goals incorporating SD are the next tier of resources and supports to building and supporting a diverse and burgeoning business community across Canada.

The Importance of Black History Month

Did you know that it was only in 1995 that the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada? That is less than 30 years ago.

Black History Month is incredibly important not only to celebrate and reaffirm the contributions that Blacks / Persons of African descent have made to Canada but also to use this time as a launchpad for creating future momentum about how we continue to build on that diversity to create a stronger more cohesive society.
Fun fact #1: The first free black person to arrive in Canada was Mathieu da Costa, an interpreter for Samuel de Champlain’s voyage to Nova Scotia, in the early 1600s.
Fun fact #2: 71.8 per cent of African Nova Scotians have roots in the province going back three generations or more. This would include the Black Loyalists, the Maroons, and escaped slaves from the US making for a very rich black history in Nova Scotia.

How has society and the business landscape changed over the last few years / decades?

Most recently I was at a Black History Month (BHM) event that asked the same question. My response at the event and my response now is still the same. There have been a number of changes across the business landscape, of which we should be proud. Given my focus on driving economic inclusion in procurement, let me direct your attention to three key areas of progress:

1) The increasing number of businesses across corporate Canada who have made a commitment to expand their supply chain to include Black owned businesses. While their programs may not be fully functional, they are definitely moving in the right direction.

2) The emergence of frank and honest conversations with business leaders about the challenges of Black entrepreneurs in the Canadian economy. Acknowledgement is the first step towards change.

3) While economic inclusion began with many corporate organizations, in the last five years, we have seen multiple levels of government step forward with policy statements to be more inclusive. We look forward to working with them on implementation.

As we celebrate those organizations who by their actions and strategies are demonstrating leadership in their support and promotion of black owned businesses, please know there is still so much to do. As I previously stated, let’s use BHM to not only celebrate the past, but use this month as a launchpad to commit to additional progress for a more inclusive society.