CBC Quebec shines a light on people in Black communities across the province who are giving back, inspiring others and helping shape our future. These are the Black Changemakers.
When Steve Cheldy Assoé arrived at university, he enrolled in finance, not because he liked it, but because he felt it was necessary.
“I hated finance,” he said emphatically, grinning from ear to ear.
He eventually switched to marketing at Concordia University. It’s an area that he says has allowed him to mix business concepts with his artistic side.
Assoé is a director of photography, hosts a podcast and is a graphic designer, always juggling between school and various projects.
His work as a graphic designer has earned him gigs at the United Nations for projects related to World Environment Day and World Oceans Day.
Regardless of what he’s working on or what hat he’s wearing, Assoé says he tries to use his skills to help amplify voices he feels may be unheard of.
He is the creative director of medical historya nonprofit group that promotes gender equity in health by sharing women’s stories about a wide range of challenges they have faced while receiving care.
He is the first to admit that he is not an expert on the subject, but his skills allow him to express himself on the subject without putting himself forward.
“There are a lot of other people, women in particular, who should speak up and be the main voices,” he said. “But I find roles that I can help with very well.”
Assoé volunteers as a mentor to younger students, sharing his knowledge in graphic design, digital arts, entrepreneurship and technology.
Knowledge sharing on NFTs
Assoé is currently preparing a master’s degree in marketing.
His thesis subject allowed him to immerse himself in a new passion: NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. It focuses on their role at the intersection of art and technology.
Assoé said his journey made him see the benefits of higher education and he wanted to spread the word.
“You can take any subject you’re really passionate about – it can be comics, cartoons, cars,” he said.
“You can research this and really become an expert in this area.”
As he navigates the technology — which is controversial because it requires large amounts of energy and because of cases of using art without permission from a creator — Assoé says he’s noticed several cultural groups are underrepresented. He seeks to change that.
“Now that I see this, and am learning more myself and becoming more and more of an expert in this area, I want to use my knowledge so I can share it and spread it to a lot more underrepresented people. , especially black people,” he said.
“I want to get this out there so they’re not afraid to step into those spaces, right? I think it’s really important that a lot of us creative people step into that space. We have so many smart people.”
He has already bought and sold NFTs. Now the goal is to finish school and start working in this world as a professional, developing the expertise and making the contacts “so that we can use that, to bring even more valuable information to minorities” .
The Black Changemakers is a special series recognizing people who, regardless of their background or industry, are committed to creating a positive impact in their community. From solving problems to doing small everyday acts of kindness, these changemakers make a difference and inspire others. Meet all the change makers here.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canadaa CBC project that black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.