New award supports graduating Black students

14 Feb 2024
The Murewa Black Student Leader Award will have its inaugural recipient this year

The Murewa Black Student Leader Award is a new award that recognizes a graduating Black student’s commitment to community leadership and the advancement of social equity for members of the MtA Black Caucus. The award was created by Danai Bélanger, Mount Allison’s director of student experience.

Danai Bélanger, Director of Student Experience

“The first and most obvious reason I wanted to create this was because we didn’t have an award to specifically recognize any of our Black student leaders,” says Bélanger. “Black students have a very different experience of education, and I wanted to be able to highlight student leaders who are doing amazing things while acknowledging that it’s not an easy place to be in — to be both a leader but also a student from this community.”

The award is open to Black students of African or Caribbean descent or any Black student who is part of the African diaspora. Eligible students will be actively involved in the African Students Association, Black Students Union, or Caribbean Students Association.

The inaugural recipient of the Murewa Black Student Leader Award will be announced at the Last Lecture in March. Last Lecture is an annual event that celebrates the graduating class and recognizes members of the class for their contributions to Mount Allison and community.

“I love the Last Lecture because the whole evening is really a testament to every single student’s hard work,” says Bélanger. “Having the Murewa Award as part of the event signals to not just Black students but to the greater community that we do recognize the hard work and dedication of our students and that we want to recognize them for all the things they are doing to make Mount Allison a university for everybody.”

'Murewa’ is a Zezuru word from the Shona people of Zimbabwe.

“Murewa means ‘the acclaimed one’, and in Shona culture it is the totem of my family,” says Bélanger. She chose the name to honour her family and the large role education has played in their lives. Bélanger comes from a family of educators — her mother and grandfather were teachers.  

When Bélanger came to Canada as an international student at Memorial University, she quicky became an advocate for students and that led to a career working for several universities.

Mount Allison’s first Black director of student experience, Bélanger manages international affairs; sexualized violence education and response; equity, diversity, inclusion; and anti-racism initiatives on campus along with other areas of the student life experience.  

She is using payroll deduction to fund the Murewa Black Student Leader Award, a convenient way for Mount Allison faculty and staff to support campus causes important to them.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the students,” says Bélanger. “I like the fact that the labour I do in my role as director and the work I have done throughout my career to support and promote and assist students is culminating in this award. It’s a way for me to take that compensatory value I get for doing a job and give back to the students.”
Nominations for the Murewa Black Student Leader Award and other grad awards are now open. The nomination deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 1. Self-nominations are welcomed.
For more information on giving, including through payroll deduction, visit or contact the Development Office.

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