Candies Kotchapaw is the founder of Developing Young Leaders of Tomorrow, Today (DYLOTT), a youth-centred organization that creates programs that develop future Black leaders. Through providing mentorship opportunities, training, skills development, and industry-specific knowledge, Candies’ goal is to strategically dismantle entry point barriers and socio-economic inequities that have faced Black communities in Canada for far too long. For this work, Candies has been recognized as a 2021 Top 75 Canadian Immigrant finalist, 2021 G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Canadian delegate, and 2021 Alumna of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor’s Leadership Program. She is also one of the Top 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women and one of our very own 2020 Top 25 Women of Influence Awards recipients.
My first job ever was… working as a customer service representative for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and Princess Margaret Home Lottery.
Before my work with DYLOTT, I was… struggling to find work in my field of social work. I had several short-term contracts as a Constituency Assistant. I also worked as a cashier at No Frills grocery store.
I founded DYLOTT because… I was tired of the narrative of only accepting traditional industry, precarious work as the status quo for brilliant Black young people.
The thing I love most about what I do is… I get to have a hand in positively impacting the lives of Black young people, when systemic barriers suggest it shouldn’t be possible; and I get to see this legacy happen in real time.
I’m excited about the Permanent Forum for People of African Descent because… this is another means to advance the human rights of continental Africans and people of African descent globally. It’s also a way to hold decision-makers around the world accountable to meaningfully create sustainable pathways for economic, environmental, and legislative justice.
My best advice for anyone that cares about a cause and wants to contribute to it would be… be committed to the cause you believe in, even when momentum hasn’t swung in your favour…yet!
“We have more worldly wealth than ever imagined, technology to solve major problems, and activists and advocates who are more easily accessible thanks to social media. We are contributing to our history now, so with all these resources, let’s manifest the positive change we want to see now.”
If I were to pick one thing that has helped me succeed, it would be… reminding myself that “greatness is embedded in my very DNA.” A mentor of mine reminds me of this every time I hit a milestone or feel stuck.
One of my favourite ways to spend my downtime is…watching the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TV show and the Jason Bourne and Mission Impossible movies. I love learning about new ways to solve problems, so these movies give me inspiration.
One person I’m inspired by is… the Prime Minister of Barbados, Honourable Mia Mottley. Her passionate call to action on behalf of Caribbean Island states during COP26 — the UN Climate Change Conference — made me even more excited and proud to be a Black woman changemaker. I hope to meet her one day soon!
A book I think everyone should know about is… Poised to Emerge, a book written by the late Bishop Iona E. Locke, and Don’t Drop the Mic: The Power of Your Words Can Change the World by Bishop T.D. Jakes.
One thing that I think could help change the course of history is… Using the tools and opportunities we now have at our disposal as a force for our collective good. We have more worldly wealth than ever imagined, technology to solve major problems, and activists and advocates who are more easily accessible thanks to social media. We are contributing to our history now, so with all these resources, let’s manifest the positive change we want to see now.