Black History Month: Perspectives from Nkechi Ajike-Kalu  

Nkechi Ajike-Kalu is a Youth and Family Counsellor with the Wood’s Homes Birch Program.

According to Nkechi, Canada has a thriving Nigerian community in each province, and the one in Calgary is the biggest and most vibrant of them all. They say Nigerians in Calgary are known for striving to be a helpful resource to one another, while giving back to the community.

Nkechi shares that Nigeria is rich with diversity: cultural, linguistic and religious. The major ethnic groups – the Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, and numerous others – all belong to the Igbo tribe. Nigerians enjoy a shared sense of celebration, supported by a number of cultural activities throughout the year. Most of the time, these celebrations include vibrant music and cultural dance displays in elaborate, traditional attire. A multilingual country, Nigeria has over 500 spoken languages. English is the official language, but many Nigerians also speak their native languages fluently. Nigeria is also religiously diverse, with Islam and Christianity being the two major religions. 

Bringing the party to Canada, Oct. 1 marks the nationwide celebration of the day Nigeria gained its independence as a country.

On working at Wood’s Homes, Nkechi says they find it rewarding, have a sense of positive fulfillment, and are privileged to make a meaningful and positive impact in the lives of kids during their developmental periods. Nkechi is a big supporter of Wood’s Homes’ growth in the area of connection to many diverse communities and cultures. As part of Wood’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group, Nkechi’s desire for growth in our community connections brings high value to this organization. 

When asked which Black Canadians they celebrate, Nkechi identifies Kaycee Madu, a Canadian lawyer and politician who was born and raised in Southeastern Nigeria. Madu represented Edmonton-South West in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 2019 to 2023. As an MLA, Madu was minister of municipal affairs, solicitor general, and the first Black person to serve as a provincial minister of justice in Canada.

When Danielle Smith became leader of the UCP and appointed as premier, Madu was named her deputy minister, losing his seat in the 2023 provincial election. Nkechi says he is the definition of black excellence, and the Nigerian community is grateful he had the opportunity to serve Albertans in government.