As an entrepreneur and a mentor,
through her home-based business
Ashanti Leadership and Professional
Development Services, which
she founded in 2011, Divine strives
to empower women of colour to
accomplish their personal goals.
In partnership with the Black
Business Initiative and the Labour
and Advanced Education Department,
she recently led a business cohort for
women’s leadership training program.
Nine black women successfully
completed the five-week program.
“We’ve all got small businesses at home
but nobody knows about (them),” she said.
To help change that, Divine has
received support from the Black
Business Initiative, Greater Halifax
Partnership, Halifax Chamber of
Commerce, Centre for Women in
Business and Maritime Museum of the
Atlantic to host a series of networking
initiatives to bring women of colour to
various business events in Halifax.
“The point is if we turn up as groups,
then we are there to support each
other,” she said.
Divine’s expertise in the areas of
leadership development, strategic
management, human rights,
employment equity and conflict
resolution have been recognized
nationally and internationally.
The mother of three adult children
hails from a family of successful role
models. Her aunts and uncles worked
as doctors, one was a university
professor and another a minister. Her
mother was a nurse and her father an
“And I was raised to believe that
education was the key to our success
in the world,” she said.
“When we as children would come
home, even though we were young
— five, six, seven, eight, nine —
my uncle used to host what was
known as evening classes, night
school, where he taught us how to
spell words like Philadelphia and
Mississippi and whatever knowledge
he had, he transferred that to us as
“I look back and I think to myself as a
young child you don’t fully understand
or you don’t know, but when I look
back on that, I (realize) they were
instilling in us the values and sense
Divine, a native of Guyana, was raised
in London, England. She moved to
Halifax from the United Kingdom in
2004 when her husband, Prof. David
Divine, was appointed Dalhousie
University’s James R. Johnston Chair
in Black Canadian Studies.
Before coming to Canada, the former
social worker worked as a probation
officer and ran the largest bail
and probation hostel in the United
In July, she left her position as
manager for race relations, equity
and inclusion with the Nova Scotia
Human Rights Commission.
After seven years in that position,
she decided it was time to pursue her
true calling — to champion the cause
of women of colour who are absent
from the decision-making table in
government and business.
“I still do feel quite sad that having
left government, we don’t have a
black deputy minister; we may have
one or two directors, I’m not sure,”
she said in a recent interview.
“We are living in 2014. We have
had people of colour coming to
Nova Scotia as immigrants and we
have people who have lived in Nova
Scotia … since the 1600s … so why
then don’t we have people who are
representative. In my opinion, it’s a
crying shame on all of us as Nova
Scotians because we have failed
Divine holds a master’s degree in
human resource management, a
bachelor of arts in sociology and a
postgraduate diploma in social work.
As well, she is certified in human
rights education and training.
In March, Divine, also founder of
the Black and Immigrant Women
Businesses Networking Group, and
fellow business owner Louise Adongo
co-ordinated the first International
Women’s Day event in Halifax to
celebrate black and immigrant women
in business and to encourage more
women to get involved in the business
Plans are already underway to
host a second International
Women’s Day event — a business
expo — on March 8, 2015, at the
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
Empowers Women of Colour
Originally published in the October 16, 2014
issue of The Chronicle Herald. Reprinted