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Vicki Bismilla

Born in South Africa into a family highly involved in the anti-apartheid movement through The Natal Indian Congress, Vicki started her equity work at a very young age. She graduated from the University of South Africa with a Degree in English Literature and Drama, married Yusuf Bismilla and emigrated to Canada in 1970. She started teaching in Scarborough in 1972 and completed her Honours Degree in English Literature. Her daughter Zia was born in 1975 and her son Zeyd in 1980. She became a Principal in 1990 and completed her Masters Degree in Education and her Supervisory Officer’s certification. She worked as an Education Officer at The Ministry of Education in 1994 and in 1999 was promoted to Superintendent of Education for The York Region District School Board. As a Superintendent she initiated 20 equity programs and committees to form an infrastructure for the Board to address issues of equity ranging from racism, homophobia, classism and diversity hiring practices and was honoured with their Excellent Employee Award in 2004. She initiated the province-wide Equity Committee for Supervisory Officers from Boards across Ontario and taught the Supervisory Officer Qualification program. She has chaired international conferences on Equity issues. She won the Province of Ontario Volunteer Service Award in 1998 for years of volunteer service including President of The Board of Directors for The Scarborough Women’s Centre and has been profiled in the Who’s Who of Canadian Women for 5 years. She took the position of Vice-President of Centennial College in July 2005. She has been active in research contributions to funded federal projects and educational magazines in the area of second language learners and is a member of Amnesty International, World

Wildlife Federation, Greenpeace, World Vision and other organizations trying to address other areas that humans tend to descecrate.

Throughout her career she has made it her priority to mentor other educators by establishing mentor groups. In the educational system in Ontario race prejudice is still alive and well; and minority teachers face innumerable glass ceilings. Vicki believes that ALL minority educators who manage to break through these glass ceilings owe it to minority children to open the way for other well qualified minority educators so that children can see the possibilities in role models who look like themselves. As a Vice-Principal her mentor groups were for students and teachers; as Principal her mentor groups were for teachers and Vice-Principals; as President of The Scarborough Women’s Centre mentoring was her job description as the Centre helped women who were abused and disenfranchised; as Superintendent of Education her mentor groups were for Vice-Principals and Principals and now as Vice-President of Centennial College she is mentoring chairs who want to apply to other positions. While she started her mentor groups specifically for minority women their popularity attracted educators from all backgrounds including mainstream men and women. She has only one thing that she asks in return for this volunteer time; that as each of the mentor group members climb up the hill they pull others behind them. This lift as you climb motto continues in all of the groups that she has initiated over her 35 year career and continues today. At present her attention is on foreign trained professionals who arrive in Canada and have their skills ignored and disrespected. This is her next undertaking.