Five Black-owned small businesses in B.C. secure $135,000 from Cassels law firm

The recipients will also receive pro bono legal services equal to the grant amount.

Following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement during the pandemic, corporate law firm Cassels embarked on a mission to try to create a diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial community. To that end, it decided to award Black-owned small businesses financial assistance to support ongoing operations as well as free legal services matching the same amount. For its third annual grant, four businesses in Vancouver and one in Surrey just received a total of $135,000.  

On top of $60,000 from Vancouver mining company Wheaton Precious Metals, Cassels employees contributed to increase the promised amount of $125,000 by $10,000.  

“It truly has been a lasting partnership, as Cassels later came on board as clients for one of the projects that the grant had helped us sail through,” said 2021 recipient Evelyne Nyairo, founder of Calgary skincare brand Ellie Bianca, in a release. “We also had one the Cassels lawyers join us as a keynote speaker in a panel discussion that Ellie Bianca hosted during Black History Month this year.” 

Here are the 2022 recipients. 

Chanelle Tye Equity & Inclusion 

Consultant Chanelle Tye, who spent 10 years as a queer school teacher, uses humour and an interactive approach to train companies to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive. With a master of education in equity studies from SFU, Tye’s focus is on unpacking power and privilege in educational, corporate and institutional settings.  

Tommie’s Jerk 

Tobias Brown runs a Jamaican takeout restaurant from Surrey to celebrate his roots. Before going home to research the local street food there, he learned everything from dishwashing to kitchen management from Chef Jerome, the head chef and instructor of Triton College’s culinary institute program. Brown is now shining a spotlight on his culture through Tommie’s Jerk, which also offers spices and marinade.

West Coast Training 

Former Canadian men’s national team member Ransford Brempong helps youth in basketball by coaching and training them on how to be successful. The club offers both private and group training to help players develop their basketball skills. 


Deress Asghedom created the Vaster app to help people access cannabis product information in real time. The app uses machine learning tech to allow users to scan and learn about cannabis items before purchasing.  


Steve Sijenyi launched B.C.’s only Black-owned radio station to play hip hop music focused on BIPOC experiences. The media platform also features ads for small enterprises in Vancouver.