Dawson graduate Gift Tshuma named Quebec Black Changemaker
By the time he graduated from Dawson in Social Science (Law, Society and Justice) in Summer 2011, Gift Tshuma had made his mark. He was an active participant in student life and a strong and proud voice for people living with disabilities.
His voice also contributes to the United Tribulation Choir, an R&B gospel group he co-founded in 2007 with his brother Paul.
In January, he was named a Quebec Black Changemaker by CBC Quebec.
After graduating from Dawson, he went on to complete a degree at Concordia in Sociology. Now 32, Gift is an assistive technologist with the March of Dimes, and co-executive director of Blurring the Boundaries, an organization that develops music technology and accessibility frameworks including open-source software. His work combines his two passions and areas of expertise.
He told the CBC that his goal has always been to change the narrative around disability. His interview is excepted here:
Tshuma’s advocacy work also involves identifying gaps in access to education and employment.
Although he says he seeks to improve the situation for all people with disabilities, he says he knows firsthand that it can be even more difficult to find resources and get help based on the colour of someone’s skin.
“It’s been part of my mission to shed light on those issues,” he said.
With so many people working from home since the start of the pandemic, Tshuma said, many employers now realize staff with disabilities who had long been asking to work from home were not being unreasonable.
There’s still a long way to go, he said.
“Even though most of us can work from home, it doesn’t mean that all of our accommodations are being met,” Tshuma said.
“There are so many folks who are talented, so many folks who are skilled; there are so many disabled folks who are very, very educated and more than qualified for the positions.”
Tshuma said although change is gradual and at times slow, he’s enjoying watching it unfold.
He wants his work to help serve as a reminder that people with disabilities should never be an afterthought.
“There’s not much of a focus on designing things with disability in mind, and that’s the narrative I’m trying to [change],” Tshuma said.