The Panelists

Brianna Lane


Brianna Lane, University of Toronto Masters Student studying Physical Geography and member of the United Church of Canada

Brianna Lane is a member of Trinity United Church in Cobourg, Ontario. She is currently a master’s student studying Physical Geography at the University of Toronto. Brianna’s research focuses on monitoring lake ice and snow in the Canadian High Arctic. She enjoys hiking, watching movies, and learning languages. After the completion of this project, Brianna hopes to continue gaining a deeper understanding of historical research, connecting with the Black Christian community, and helping share this narrative.

The Developing Young Black Scholars Program

This program has been a part of the United Church of Canada’s (UCCan) commitment to the UN International Decade for People of African Descent. The project aimed to utilize research on Black Canadian church experience of anti-black racism with a view to inform other anti-racism work within UCCan's local faith communities.

The project was conducted by a learning community of six young adults of African descent affiliated with the UCCan who were trained to become resource experts on the history of anti-Black racism in Canadian church contexts.  The project included a research phase (March – June 2021), where research topics varied among the participants based on interest and available resources. In the dissemination phase (September – December 2021), several communities of faith in the United Church hosted online events where the researchers presented their findings. The goal was to conduct forums on anti-racism and assist faith communities to strategize towards anti-racism action and advocacy. Most recently, the group has been working on a curriculum of Anti-Racism Training for youth.


Matthew Thomas


Matthew Thomas, Associate Pastor at Deep Water Church in Halifax, MDiv student at Acadia Divinity College

Matthew is from the beautiful community of East Preston, Nova Scotia. He currently serves as the associate pastor at Deep Water Church where he oversees Multi site and Multiethnic Ministry. He has a heart for church planting and the mission of Christ to make disciples.

Matthew holds a BA in Criminology from St. Mary’s University and is in his final year of the MDIV program at Acadia Divinity College. Prior to vocational ministry, Matthew worked in the youth justice system as the Casework Coordinator for the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program (Halifax Region)

Matthew is a servant leader and a gifted communicator. His desire is to help people find their identity in Christ so they can live out their God given purpose. He’s passionate about social justice issues and believes the church ought to have a prophetic voice in the face of injustice effecting our city and world.

Yayo Vuni


Yayo Vuni, Int'l Student at Acadia university currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science.

Yayo is in her fourth year and hopes to graduate in May. Before moving to Canada for her studies, she lived in Nairobi, Kenya, although originally from South Sudan. Her interests lie in community service and advocacy on how better opportunities can be created for every individual. In addition, she is a student leader at Acadia serving as a chairperson for the Student Representative Council, secretary for the black student’s association and the president for the World University Services of Canada. She is also a student assistant at the Acadia library and the manning memorial Chapel. She grew up in a Christian household where they practised Catholicism. This influenced her passion for helping others to advance spiritually. One of the ways she has been able to do this is through holding faith studies under Catholic Acadia. Yayo is currently researching the impact of South Sudanese cultural marriage practices on women who have immigrated to Canada for her honour’s thesis.