Introducing our MC's for WCT's 2022 Leadership Excellence Awards Gala
Mercedes Stephenson is Global News’ Ottawa Bureau Chief and the host of the network’s flagship national political affairs program The West Block. Leading Global News’ coverage from the nation’s capital, Stephenson interviews the biggest names in Canadian and international politics.
Hailing from Calgary with a background in Military and Strategic Studies, Stephenson has distinguished herself as one of Canada’s foremost voices in political, defence and foreign policy journalism.
Stephenson has covered major political and leadership conventions and scandals, provided her expertise from around the world while reporting from locales such as Latvia, France, Washington – travelling with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his inaugural visit to the Trump White House, Afghanistan and Niger – where she was the first television reporter ever embedded with the Canadian Special Operations Forces. Stephenson also spent time as a national columnist – featuring in numerous prominent Canadian publications, and previously hosted multiple political television programs.
Possessing a strong reputation for breaking stories and a passion for holding the powerful to account, Stephenson was the first to reveal the identity and death of Canadian suicide bomber, Aaron Driver, for which she earned a nomination for the prestigious Canadian Association of Journalists Scoop Award. Stephenson’s investigative reporting drew the public’s attention to the mistreatment and neglect of Canadian veterans, and her reporting on how the military handles sexual misconduct led to major policy changes in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Stephenson holds a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Calgary where her thesis focused on information operations in Afghanistan. She also studied political journalism at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., interned at the Pentagon and studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies. Crediting her passion for politics to a fascination with world events and the people behind them, Stephenson applies the same to her personal life, travelling whenever she can to meet new people and experience new places.
A translator by trade, Kenyan-born Sarah Onyango is a well-known fixture on Ottawa’s community television and radio scene. She has hosted the monthly African cultural program "Fontonfrom", on Rogers TV Cable 22 – Ottawa since 2002 as well as the weekly radio programs, "Black on Black" and "Afrika Revisited" on CHUO 89.1FM (University of Ottawa community radio) since the late 1990s. In 2003, she created BlackOttawa411, an online "virtual hub" providing information about the National Capital Region's Black community, businesses, organizations and events.
A tireless promoter of African and Caribbean culture and activities, Sarah has for many years been actively involved in public relations work for various African and Caribbean diplomatic missions as well as numerous community organizations such as Black History Ottawa, Fête Caribe, DreamKEEPERS, various Caribbean and African associations, OCISO, OLIP, and the United Way.
Sarah's community service has been recognized with various awards including the United Way East Ontario Community Builder Award (2008 & 2011), the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), the Ontario Volunteer Service Award (2012), the Leading Women Leading Girls Building Communities award (2014), the Ontario Black History Society's Mathieu Da Costa Award (2016), the #OC150 award (2017), and 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women (2018).