The Africa Awareness Initiative was founded in 2002 as a response to the lack of representation and intelligent dialogue of Africa on the University of British Columbia’s campus. In general, Africa was rarely ever discussed in the Academic arena, and when it was, it was presented as a homogeneous and often negative entity. This was evidenced in the general lack of knowledge about Africa, the lack of attention given to contemporary African issues and initiatives, and the lack of African subject matter in courses at the university. It was thus through the collective efforts of members of the Vancouver community, the International House at UBC, the UBC World Universities Services Canada (WUSC) and concerned faculty members that Africa Awareness hosted its first conference.
Founding members of the initiative include Veronica P. Fynn, Dr. Gloria Onyeoziri, Shirin Theophilus, Professor Nancy Gallini, Dr. Margery Fee, Sarah Twomey, Pascaline Nsakera, Carolyn Long, Winnie Cheung, Parker Johnson and other support staff, students and community members. The initial efforts of these pioneers led to the inception of the African Studies Minor Program at UBC.