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Celebrating Black History Month 2024: Inspiring and Igniting change

January 31, 2024

Temilade Adetokunbo's inspirational Canadian journey at Purolator

This year, in recognition of Black History Month, we are shining a spotlight on some of our employees. Today we are excited to share the journey of Temilade Adetokunbo, a Client Support Representative with our Retail team in Winnipeg, Man., who has found a family away from home at Purolator.

temilade adetokunbo

In a recent conversation, Temilade shared details of her life — navigating a new country, embracing a different culture and establishing a career at Purolator. Her Canadian journey began in 2019, when she arrived in Winnipeg from Nigeria to pursue a Nursing degree at the University of Manitoba. Seeking employment that complemented her educational schedule, she found a rewarding career at Purolator, contributing actively to her local team in Winnipeg.

Asked about the challenges she faced, Temilade shared that being away from home was particularly tough. Special occasions were often lonely, and the distance from home has been difficult. "Celebrating special days without many friends or family members around has been tough, but thanks to my Purolator family, that has changed quite significantly."

Temilade recounted the first birthday she celebrated as a Purolator employee, a memorable day adorned with birthday cards throughout the Purolator Shipping Centre she works at, including a collective card signed by everyone she works with, and colleagues from other locations. Her coworker Corin surprised her with a card — the first Temilade had received since arriving in Canada, and her first genuine birthday celebration since leaving her hometown in Nigeria.

"It was a special moment, especially considering I haven't seen my parents since my arrival in Canada," said Temilade. "Celebrating birthdays and holidays with coworkers holds significant meaning for me; it fills the void of not having family around. It seems to be a tradition here for everyone to sign a card whenever someone celebrates a birthday, and I find that really cool. It's a unique experience I've never encountered before."

Temilade's journey to Canada, leaving her homeland in search of opportunity, is an example of the kind of resilience and spirit individuals bring to our diverse nation. Her story highlights the meaningful contributions she, and others like her, bring to Purolator's diverse community. We are honoured to work alongside you, Temilade, as you navigate your version of the Canadian dream.

Jason Belgrave’s commitment to lifting others up

Throughout February, in honour of Black History Month, Purolator is recognizing individuals making a difference. Jason Belgrave, Purolator's Director of Operations for Northeast Ontario, is dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion and to lifting others up.

Jason Belgrave

Jason's journey in the logistics sector has been marked by a relentless pursuit of growth and a deep-seated understanding of the importance of cultural competence. Originally from Montreal, he grew up in Quebec's diverse landscape, and his upbringing instilled in him the value of celebrating and respecting individuals who have paved the way for progress. For Jason, this extends beyond recognizing the prominent figures typically associated with Black History Month.

"Black History Month is not just about Black people and Black history," Jason emphasizes. "It's about individuals who aimed to raise the bar in how we treat everybody, ultimately benefiting the Black community in general."

He firmly believes that seeing individuals who look like you in positions of success is paramount for inspiring future generations. "My presence in the field, working in operations with our front-line employees, helps break down barriers," he asserts. "Representation matters; people need to see individuals who look like them in roles they aspire to."

Jason's impact extends well beyond the workplace. Teaming up with local organizations like Why Can't We Feed Everyone, he and his son regularly deliver meals to Ottawa Mission, combatting food insecurity in the community. Reflecting on a heartfelt moment with his son, Jason recalls their conversation about homelessness, emphasizing the value of empathy and giving back. "He really got to me that day. My son hadn't ever seen a person experiencing homelessness, and he didn’t understand how anyone could end up in that living situation. Once we spoke about it, all he wanted to do was help," Jason recalls. "So, I told him ‘This is what we're going to do: on Saturdays, you and I will work together to deliver meals to people around the city.’”

Through acts of kindness and compassion, Jason teaches his son about privilege and the value of empathy and helping those in need. "It's important for him to understand the advantages he has and to give back, when possible," he says.

Jason’s commitment to positive change — in both his industry and his community — demonstrates the impact one person can have.

Thank you, Jason, for showing us that success is not just measured by individual accomplishments, but by the collective progress of those we uplift along the way.

Deandra Bedward has always chosen her own road

Meet Deandra Bedward, a linehaul driver based out Etobicoke, Ont., who is inspiring change in a traditionally male-dominated field. With more than 10 years of experience under her belt, Deandra's career in the transportation industry reflects her deep-rooted passion for driving and her commitment to family.

Deandra Bedward

Growing up in Jamaica, Deandra was deeply influenced by her grandfather, a truck driver who ignited her fascination with the open road. Reflecting on those formative years, Deandra fondly recalls, "My grandfather used to tell me, 'The road may be long, but the journey is what makes it worthwhile.' His words have always stayed with me, guiding me through life's twists and turns."

Upon immigrating to Canada in 2000, her father made a career as a truck driver, further fueling Deandra’s ambition. While accompanying her grandfather on road trips and exploring the highways with her father, she developed a profound love for trucking from a young age.

After getting her commercial driver's license, Deandra began trucking, mainly hauling flatbeds. When her friend Kamisha, a courier for Purolator, told Deandra about the company's support for work-life balance, Deandra made the move to Purolator. The change allowed her to spend more time with family while still trucking.

At Purolator, Deandra has found fulfillment in her role as a linehaul driver. Her typical day involves making meticulous load checks, patiently navigating traffic-choked routes, and delivering goods with precision and efficiency. Deandra’s ability to handle unique hurdles faced by women in the industry, her unwavering resolve to succeed as a truck driver and her skillful driving have earned her respect among her peers.

Her journey is not only a testament to her resilience but also serves as a beacon for other Black women aspiring to enter the transportation industry. Through her interactions with fellow drivers and aspiring professionals, she actively encourages and supports women to pursue careers in trucking and logistics, emphasizing the importance of confidence and perseverance.

Deandra's story exemplifies the transformative power of determination and the significance of representation in breaking down barriers. With her strong spirit and commitment to excellence, she continues to pave the way for future generations of women in transportation.

Deandra, thank you for your dedication, passion and resilience. Your journey embodies the essence of Black History Month — a celebration of inspiring trailblazers and change-makers.