The team I lead at Pathways Canada focuses on Learning and Development. We help employees develop their skills to serve students better and grow their own careers. One key strategy to do this is mentorship. And although I work with adults, this focus on mentorship really connects me to the work our front-line staff does with students every day. Mentorship is always on my mind.

Every January, I take part in National Mentoring Month. This year, it’s been a chance to connect with Pathways colleagues about what mentorship means to them. As we kick off Black History Month this February, these discussions are still on my mind. That led me to ask myself a question: How does mentorship relate to Black History Month?

Black Excellence is an important term that comes to mind. Generally, the expression refers to the focus on valuing and celebrating the accomplishments of Black persons. As I spent more time thinking about it, I realized what connected these two ideas—mentorship and Black Excellence. Mentorship, to me, is a way to help today’s Black youth see that they are capable of great things and see that they can learn from successful role models. That’s Black Excellence, and it’s good news for Black History.

This kind of celebration of an individual’s potential is powerful. It’s inspirational. It can make a person dream big and believe in themselves. That, in turn, helps others thrive and excel in life and at work. The positivity behind Black Excellence has really shaped my outlook on things. In fact, Black Excellence is more than a result of mentorship. It’s an idea that has brought a lot to the world of mentorship by highlighting a few key points:

  • The power of seeing role models;
  • The need to recognize success all around us—and not just in celebrities, history books or big office buildings;
  • The value of inspiring others and building confidence;
  • The importance of opening doors for people to expand their network and achieve their potential.

My own history proves it. Many Black mentors have contributed to my own success. I am grateful for them! They helped me see that everything I do, like supporting youth in low-income communities through working at Pathways, is making a difference for future generations. By believing in me, my mentors helped me get to where I am today, and I myself now mentor young people to ignite their success.

A caring mentor can make such a difference. They can make any young person see just how full of promise they are. That’s what Black Excellence means to me, and it’s a real message of hope for the future. That’s why, this month, I really wanted to pay tribute to this important idea. But the truth is that it’s not just a lesson for today. It’s for February, and Forever.


Michelle Gibson-Morgan
Senior Manager, Learning
Pathways to Education Canada


If you’re interested in supporting Canadian organizations focused on Black Excellence, check out the following resources: BlackNorth Initiative, BPTN Awards, Top Black Women to Watch in 2022, Butterfly Ladies Mentoring Program, and Black Mentorship Inc.