Congratulations to 2023 King's Alumni Award Recipients
King’s University College and the Alumni Association Board of Directors are pleased to name, and offer their congratulations to, the 2023 Alumni Award recipients. Jennifer Slay ’99 is the Alumni Award of Distinction recipient and Bangishimo ’13 is the Recent Graduate Award recipient. The decision came after the Alumni Awards Selection Committee reviewed numerous nominations.
This year's Alumni Awards Ceremony will take place at King's on Friday, September 22, at 5 p.m. as part of the annual Homecoming weekend. All are welcome to attend and registration is available at www.kings.uwo.ca/homecoming.
"Two exceptional alumni, Jennifer Slay ’99 and Bangishimo ’13, will be celebrated this fall for their uniquely exceptional contributions and remarkable achievements. All nominees exemplified the values of King’s University College, and we are proud to count each as an esteemed member of the King’s community," says Jennifer Ayers ’08, committee chair.
Alumni Award of Distinction
Jennifer Slay (she/her) ’99 is King’s first Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Decolonization (EDID).
Her professional career has spanned over 23 years. After graduating from King’s, she began her career in social work. She moved up the ranks at the Children’s Aid Society from conducting investigations as an Intake Worker to Supervisor of Indigenous Family Services. In 2012, she received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for her work in the community and was recognized as one of Canada’s Women of Confidence in Chatelaine magazine. She co-created and produced Melanated View for Rogers Television which, in 2020, earned her the City of London Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Oppression Award. Slay served in The Congress of Black Women of Canada - London Chapter, both as a member and as Vice-President.
A psychotherapist who helps persons with anxiety and depression, Slay is the owner of Jennifer Slay Counseling and Coaching. She has authored several books, including Finesse Your Life - Mind, Body, & Spirit and the Finesse Your Life journal, and is the co-author of Dreaming Big, Being Bold.
Her nominator said that Slay was “the epitome of when passion meets hard work.”
“While it must be noted that Jennifer held positions of leadership in the workplace and no doubt inspired other visible minority coworkers to aspire for leadership, it is Jennifer's appointment as King's University College Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Decolonization that has inspired so many Black women. Jennifer's work ethic, integrity, and empathy for humanity are demonstrated in how she leads both in the corporate arena and in the not-for-profit world. She has used this to inspire other women and girls to be all that they can be and ‘Slay’ at it,” added the nominator.
Recent Graduate Award
Bangishimo (they/them) ’13, an IndigiQueer Anishinaabe originally from Couchiching First Nations, is a photographer, filmmaker, community advocate, and co-founder of O:se Kenhionhata:tie, also known as Land Back Camp.
After earning their Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) from King’s in 2013, Bangishimo moved to Kitchener-Waterloo to pursue their Masters of Social Work: Indigenous Field of Study from Wilfrid Laurier University. At the end of their program, Bangishimo and their mother, a Residential School survivor, made national news as the first parent and child to graduate at the same time from the same program at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Bangishimo was the Events Coordinator at the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC) at the University of Waterloo for five years before leaving to pursue their love of photography. They travelled the world for a year, visiting twelve countries and numerous Indigenous communities, taking photos and sharing the stories of the people they met along the way for their project “Nations and Voices.”
Since 2018, Bangishimo has created numerous portrait series which have been on display in art spaces across Canada, including a 25-foot-long billboard in downtown Kitchener. In 2020, Bangishimo’s portrait series “Land Back Camp: Our Voices” won the Briarpatch Magazine’s “Writing in the Margins” contest.
In 2012, while at King’s, Bangishimo became a community organizer with the Idle No More movement, a worldwide Indigenous movement to bring attention to the injustices done to Indigenous peoples across Canada. In 2020, they helped found O:se Kenhionhata:tie also known as Land Back Camp in Kitchener’s Willow River Park, establishing a safe and inclusive space for Indigenous and Two Spirit communities and creating an environment for Indigenous people to reconnect with their culture and learn about their Indigeneity.
Bangishimo was selected as the City of Kitchener’s Artist in Residence 2022-2023. As the first Indigenous artist in this role, they worked on a portrait series titled “The Medicines We Carry” along with local artist Britney Baldwin.
“By raising awareness of Indigenous issues and advocating for change, Bangishimo played a crucial role in fostering a sense of activism and social justice within the campus community,” said the nominator, adding that “they continue to be a role model for students passionate about social justice and community change.”
About the Alumni Awards
The King's University College Alumni Association administers two awards annually that recognize the achievements, dedication, and community service of deserving alumni.
The Alumni Award of Distinction recognizes King's alumni who are an inspiration to others, have made a significant contribution to the community or society, or who have reached a high level of accomplishment in their field.
The Recent Graduate Award recognizes the accomplishments of alumni who graduated from King's within the last 15 years. It celebrates achievement in such areas as service to humanity, professional accomplishment, community service, the advancement of knowledge, or service to King's.
For more information about the Alumni Awards, visit www.kings.uwo.ca/alumni/events-and-chapters/awards/.
For more information about Homecoming, the Alumni Awards Ceremony and to register, visit www.kings.uwo.ca/homecoming.