President's Speech - 10th Year Anniversary


(Saturday, November 26, 2011)


Good evening representatives of the High Commissioner of Nigeria to Canada, our guest speaker, Mr. Adebiyi Opaleye, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.  It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the 10th Year Anniversary Celebration of Isokan Yoruba of Ottawa.  Isokan Yoruba was birthed in 2001 with the following mission:

a) To preserve and promote the Yoruba cultural heritage, values and traditions as part of the Canadian mosaic;

(b) To protect and assist in the well-being of individual members in good standing within the association.

Over the past ten years it is fair to say that we have been alive to this lofty mission.


Isokan Yoruba is a family-oriented association built on mutual respect, understanding and trust.  We recognize that to build a successful association we must build successful families, where time committed to our association is seen as an investment in our community and in the future.


Over the past decade, we have together built a strong and caring community. Our association is what it is today because of the genuine interest and commitment of our members to see to the growth of our community. We have grown our membership in leaps and bounds such that it has become our belief that every Yoruba and friends of Yoruba are members of our association.  Look around and you too will come to that conclusion.  No doubt, that is why you are here today. 


What does the Association mean to our members

Tonight as we celebrate this milestone, I would like to tell the story of our Association from our member’s perspective.


For one of our members, “the association provides an avenue to meet other Yorubas, speak our language, and commiserate together during happy and difficult times.”  That last part of the member’s comment has always been a rallying point for all of us.  We have had very happy moments of birthdays, weddings, naming ceremonies and thanksgiving celebration.  However, we have also had our difficult times. Tonight, I would like to remember two of our own who are not able to be here tonight.  On June 2, 2002, while we were barely a year old as an association, we lived through one of our difficult times when we lost Mr. Dapo Agoro, the son of Mr. & Mrs. Agoro. He was just 20 years old.  Again, in 2009, we lost one of our illustrious members, in the person of Mr. Yemi Makinde.  As an association, we did what we knew best to do; we stood by the families and gave them necessary support.  Tonight, I would like us to observe a moment of silence in respect of these two great people …… (Photos of Dapo and Mr. Yemi Makinde on the screen).  May their souls rest in peace.  Indeed, we can gladly say “Blessed is the memory of the righteous.”

Tonight, the families have asked me to publicly express their profound gratitude to all of you for your moral, financial and continued support toward them.  “A ni fi iru san fun ra wa, o.”


Our achievements

Listen to what our members have to say about their association.  One said,

“Isokan Yoruba Association has provided me and my family a home while we are away from home. It has been an opportunity for my children to understand a little bit of who we are as Yorubas in particular, and Nigerians in general, beyond the everyday reality of being a Canadian.  I, more than likely, would not have met nor interacted with most members of Isokan Yoruba who I now consider to be friends and family if not for Isokan Yoruba Association.  Isokan Yoruba is not a meeting place anymore for us.  It has become an extended family member.”

To which I will say we are one people, one nation, one language.


Another member has the following to say. “For us thus far, here are the things I believe the association mean to my family and me:


  - It helps bring my family and I come closer to the understanding of our heritage and culture.

  - It opens the eyes of my family and I to the unity that exists amongst Nigerians abroad.

  - It helps us understand more the importance of sharing at all level, in all things and lending a helping hand whenever and wherever possible.”


The member goes on to say, “I am certain that there are indescribable benefits that the organization brings into our lives, especially, the intangible benefits that exist within the organization and its' members. For my family and I, we are very happy, grateful, proud and blessed to be a part of the ISOKAN YORUBA of OTTAWA CANADA and hope to remain so for many years.”


1.)  Awards and Recognition

High School, Post Secondary and Membership Awards

Right from inception, we have instituted a program of awards to recognize the efforts of

our children for obtaining their High School diploma, and our young adults for obtaining their College diplomas or University degrees. In addition, many of our members have been recognized for their contribution to the success of our association.  Tonight we will carry on that tradition as we honour excellence and hard work among our children, and the spirit of volunteerism among our members.  Tonight’s award ceremony is to celebrate all of our members for their hard work, dedication and commitment to the Association.


2.)  Preserving and Promoting of Yoruba Cultural Heritage

Over the years as we built our community, we have taken on a number of meaningful projects.  The Yoruba School stands out as one of our greatest achievements as we promote Yoruba language under a heritage program in Ontario and promote general public awareness and interest in Yoruba culture.  To this end, over the last eight years the Association has been operating a Yoruba School Program as part of the International Language Program of the Ottawa Catholic School Board Continuing Education.  Tonight, the class of 2011 will be entertaining you with their wealth of knowledge of the Yoruba language.  I would like to thank all our former and present teachers, volunteers, as well as parents who have enrolled their children in the school over the years.  I would like to publicly recognise the following families who have sacrificed their time, effort and energy to see to the continued success of the school.  The Pratts, Mr. Yomi Pratt, our first Parent Representative, The Agoros, The Shittus, The Adams, The Lawuyis, The Adewoyes, The Ajakaiyes, The Bellos, The Womilojus and last but not the least the Garbers, Mrs. Garber is our present teacher.  Of course we can not forget the role of many of you parents over the years, thank you.  I would also like to express our appreciation to Ms. Jolanta Kania, the coordinator of the International Language Program of the Ottawa Catholic School Board Continuing Education who is here present tonight for all her support over the years.  Thank you, Ma’am.


In the same vein, in pursuit of our mission of preserving and promoting the Yoruba cultural heritage, values and traditions, we established a Cultural Group about 3 years ago. The cultural group had performed at a number of special occasions and showcased the richness of our traditional music, dance, and cultural dressing that are usually part of important celebrations. You will have an opportunity to enjoy this group tonight.


3.) Relationships with other Association.  –

Isokan Yoruba has come a long way since its inception. On a regular basis we have networked with other community associations.  As first generation immigrants, we have over the years extended our hands to other community associations and supported new immigrants so that they can easily integrate into the Canadian society we call our new home. Tonight I recognise our relationship with the Nigerian Canadian Association (NCA) Ottawa, Igbo-Ottawa, Akwa Cross Association of Ottawa, and the Black History Month and the hard work we have done together to build our community.  To all these community associations represented here tonight, I salute you for the good work you do. Thank you for joining us to celebrate tonight.



As we look forward into the future, we would no doubt embark on other meaningful projects that will make us relevant to our new home Canada on the one hand, to Yoruba land, the mother land, and to Nigeria.  In all these we will be guided by our mission and vision.  One of such projects is the “Isokan Yoruba Health Initiative” that we are launching tonight.  We shall be having the details in a slide presentation after dinner.  This is one of the ways we are giving back to Yoruba land. We look forward to your support of this project.



You know Isokan Yoruba simply means Unity of Yorubas.  One thing I am always glad about is that our members are very committed and dedicated.  There is an adage in Yoruba land that says “agbajo owo lafi ngbe eru dori”.  I have no doubt that the only way forward for our Association is to go higher.


In closing, I am reminded of the words of the Psalmist, which says,

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;

As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”

Look at our banner, “Unity, Love and Progress”.  Isokan Yoruba, I say to you let us keep the unity spirit alive.  United we stand because in our unity is our strength and blessing.  I am counting on all our members for your continued support as we continue to work together to increase our membership, build our association and reach out to our community.

To those who are still thinking about it, I say Isokan Yoruba is a big family and there is room here for you. Come on and be part of a thriving Yoruba community in Ottawa-Gatineau.


Lastly, I would like to salute all our past Presidents for their labours in growing the association.  Thank you for building a strong foundation.  I would like to use this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to all members of Isokan Yoruba, and the executive committee. Your selfless work, financial and moral support toward all our programs and activities is highly appreciated. Furthermore, I would like to express my gratitude to the members of the 10th Year Anniversary Committee who have worked tirelessly in putting together the events of tonight.


Finally, I wish you all a Happy 10th Year Celebration. I wish each and every family represented here tonight all the very best now and in the coming years.

E ku Odun, E ku Iyedun,

Emi wa a se Opolopo Odun Laiye.

Long live Isokan Yoruba of Ottawa.


Let the celebration begin!