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BBPA in the community storefront office offers sustainable solutions to Little Jamaica businesses

12 Jan 2022

This past July of 2021, the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, announced a $1-million investment over three (3) years for the revitalization of Little Jamaica. This investment will be provided to the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) by the City of Toronto and will be used to deliver programs and initiatives to support Black-owned and operated businesses within the Little Jamaica boundaries, to help in these challenging times.

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Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) Announces New CEO and President

09 Nov 2021

Expansion will help overcome systemic racism and break down barriers to Black entrepreneurship.

November 5, 2021, Toronto — After 39 years as Canada’s leading national Black business advocacy and support organization, the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) is expanding its leadership with a new CEO position. Nadine Spencer, who has served as the BBPA’s president since 2017, has been named by the board as acting CEO. Spencer will guide the BBPA through its continued growth of the organization’s ongoing expansions. These new projects include the launch of several new programs for business owners and increased funding towards these initiatives. The current BBPA vice president, Ross Cadastre, will succeed Spencer as president.

Businessman and BBPA founder, Denham Jolly, commented on the new role stating, “This is a wonderful moment for the organization and it has my full support. Nadine Spencer’s service has been exemplary and groundbreaking, with a track record that has added immeasurably to the BBPA. Her tenure has been marked by many victories, including great expansions in government funding, adding new projects, and making older ones like the Harry Jerome Awards even more successful.” 

Spencer will take a secondment from her current position as CEO of BrandEQ, a creative marketing agency based in Toronto and New York, in order to focus her attention on the rapid new growth the BBPA has been experiencing in the last few years.

“I am honoured that the BBPA has named me as its first CEO,” says Spencer. “In the nearly five years that I have served as an executive member with BBPA, issues of race and equality have moved to the forefront of public discourse and Black community advocacy voices have come together in unison to advance Black businesses. I am committed to working even harder with our community to build a future that is free of anti-Black racism and to help break down the barriers to the advancement of Black business owners and professionals. I’m also pleased that my colleague Ross Cadastre has accepted the position as president. We will work together to advance Black businesses during this critical post-COVID-19 recovery time and develop more outreach programs and partnerships.” 

As the BBPA’s CEO, Spencer will lead the organization’s operations, membership growth, fundraising, develop education programs, and oversee all other initiatives targeted towards the empowerment and advancement of the Black business community. 

Cadastre, the incoming president, is the founder of ITS Global, one of Canada’s fastest-growing recruiting firms. He brings a long history of business experience and success to the BBPA’s governance and his role as president. “As the leading organization supporting Black business in Canada, we see this expansion as a natural part of our evolution and a catalyst for our growth over the next 40 years,” says Cadastre. “Nadine and I have enjoyed a productive working partnership over the years and expect it to continue long into the future.” 

This year, the BBPA launched the Business Advisory and Implementation Services (BAIDS) initiative and the Black African and Caribbean Leadership Training Program (BACEL). The association was also a founding member of the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE), which adjudicates Black business loans up to $250,000 as part of the Canadian Government’s Black Entrepreneurship Program. 

For any further information, please visit www.bbpa.org or contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA)

Founded in 1983, the BBPA is a charitable organization whose mission is to advance Canada's Black community by facilitating the delivery of programs that support business and professional excellence, higher education, and economic development. Along with workshops and programs at the BBPA Centre of Excellence, the BBPA presents the annual Harry Jerome Awards, the BBPA National Scholarships, and the National Black Business Convention (NBBPC). For more information, please visit the BBPA online at www.bbps.org, call 416-504-4097, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The Toronto Caribbean Carnival announces 2021 festival lineup with virtual launch

16 Jun 2021

(TORONTO, ON - June 16TH, 2021) - The Toronto Caribbean Carnival officially kicked off the 2021 Festival Season with two back-to-back events held on June 15th, 2021. The virtual launch included a media press conference, followed by an Instagram Live Event hosted by news journalist Brandon Gonez, along with a grand prize giveaway to win a 5-night stay for two at Stonefield Villa Resort in Saint Lucia. 

The Live Virtual broadcast received over 16,000 views with special guest appearances by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor John Tory, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson, and soca recording artist Richardo Drue. 

Brandon Gonez announced the 2021 Festival Lineup of events during the live event, including two exciting new programs, "Carnival Eats Passport Program, and a “Carnival Food Festival." The whole month of programming will begin on July 1st, concluding on Emancipation Day, Sunday, August 1st, 2021.

This year, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival celebrates its 54th anniversary since its inception in 1967. The Festival Management Committee, producers of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, have reimagined the carnival experience to showcase Caribbean artists, support the economic recovery of local Caribbean businesses, educating on the history of Emancipation, and celebrate Freedom and Diversity.  

With the Grand Parade canceled for the second year in a row amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a curated program was developed to provide festival-goers with more personalized Caribbean experiences that meet City of Toronto Guidelines. 

Each year, thousands of people from all over the world come to Toronto to experience the carnival. This Canadian staple symbolizes summer with all the events leading up to the Grand Parade, such as the King & Queen Showcase, Junior Carnival, and Pan Alive.

The "Face of the Festival" presented by Carib Beer was announced during the live broadcast by soca recording artist, Richardo Drue who crowned Lateisha Williams as the "2021 Face of the Festival" and Celena Seusahai as the "2022 Face of the Festival". Both women will play a vital role in promoting the carnival and tackling challenging issues on women’s rights, body positivity, and discrimination. 

Festival-goers can enjoy savory dishes and traditional carnival favorites by supporting local businesses with the “Carnival Eats Passport Program” from July 2ndto July 31st sponsored by Grace Foods Canada, Carib Beer and Door Dash. Participates can dine around the city to experience different Caribbean restaurants highlighted in the program by registering for a digital passport to gain rewards and prizes weekly. For more information, please visit www.torontocarnival/carnivaleats

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival will host its 1st annual “Carnival Food Festival” on July 31st and August 1st, 2021, with various Caribbean food and live entertainment. Further details will be announced on www.torontocarnival.ca in the coming weeks. 

The 2021 Toronto Caribbean Carnival is sponsored by The City of Toronto, Province of Ontario and Canada, Bell Media, CHUM 104.5, Virgin Radio 99.9, G98.7, Carib Beer, Grace Foods Canada, OLG, Door Dash, and Go Transit.

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Federal Black Entrepreneurship Loan has officially launched!

02 Jun 2021

Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs make important contributions to the Canadian economy, yet they continue to face systemic barriers in starting and growing their businesses.

May 31, 2021 - Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, and Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, to the President of the Treasury Board and to the Minister of Digital Government and Chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus, announced that the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund is now accepting loan applications.

The loan fund provides financing of up to $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs so they can grow their businesses and succeed now and into the future.

Eligible businesses must be majority-owned by a Black Canadian and may include start-ups and existing for-profit small businesses in Canada, including sole proprietorships, social enterprises, partnerships or co-operatives. Businesses must have a business number, a business plan, and financial statements or projects for start-ups.

For more information on the loan fund criteria, please see our frequently asked questions and reach out to F.A.C.E with questions.

APPLY HERE: https://facecoalition.com/en

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The Black Academy and Insight Productions partner with CBC for live award show honouring Black talent

01 Jun 2021


TORONTO, May 31, 2021 Shamier Anderson and Stephan James, Scarborough natives and co- founders of The Black Academy, and Insight Productions, Canada’s preeminent award show production company, today announced an exclusive three-year partnership with CBC to broadcast Canada’s first-ever award show honouring Black talent. Planned for Fall 2022, The Black Academy's award show will celebrate established and emerging Black Canadian talent across film, television, music, sports, and culture, with a live telecast on CBC TV and CBC Gem. The telecast will feature award presentations, performances, and tributes. Award categories, the submission process, and additional information will be announced at a later date.

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Federal Budget 2021 Commits to Deliver for Black Communities

23 Apr 2021

The Foundation for Black Communities Applauds the Significant Investment of $200 Million to Establish a new Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund 

April 19, 2021 (Ottawa, ON) - In her first budget as Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, laid out the Liberal Government’s plan for a continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic and vision for rebuilding Canada’s battered economy. On page 229 of the Budget document, a significant investment of $200 Million was a key component of the Government’s committed response to the dramatic rise of anti-Black racism in Canada and its ongoing effects.

“The Foundation for Black Communities has been advocating for the Federal Government to address the systematic underfunding of vital community-based programs and services that Black Canadians rely on,” said Liban Abokor, a working group member of the Foundation for Black Communities (FFBC). He continued “ we are thrilled to see this future-making commitment that puts Black Communities squarely in the driver seat of creating our own solutions when we need them, where we need them.’

In the Budget document tabled in the House of Commons, the Government said that this budget proposes to provide $200 million in 2021-22 to Employment and Social Development Canada to establish a new Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund. This fund would be led by Black Canadians and would create a sustainable source of funding, including for Black youth and social purpose organizations, and help combat anti-Black racism and improve social and economic outcomes in Black communities.

“While the pandemic has disrupted the lives of all Canadians, it has disproportionately impacted Black communities, where the virus worsened and entrenched existing socioeconomic inequality,” said FFBC working group member Djaka Blais-Amare. She added “community-based programs have been the lifeline for many Black Canadians, today’s announcement in the budget will ensure that these programs and organizations can continue their important work and not worry about survival due to a lack of proper and sustainable funding.”

The news of this investment comes at a crucial moment for Canada's Black communities, as they battle with systemic anti-Black racism while also trying to recover from the pandemic's devastation.

Dr. Joseph Smith, FFBC working group member said, “because of the combined impacts of the pandemic and long-standing inequality on Black Canadians, each exacerbated by systemic anti-Black racism, this investment to support Black communities was essential.”

Looking forward, the Foundation for Black Communities, is optimistic that today’s announcement in Budget 2021, will ensure that there is a clear and stable path to building a reliable and durable source of funding for Black-led and Black serving non-profit and charitable community organizations.

“This investment will allow for the financial infrastructure to ensure Black communities have long-term, self-directed and self-sustaining resources that can be utilized despite predictable changes in public sentiment or changes in government priorities or philanthropic attitudes,” adds Rebecca Darwent, a FFBC working group member.

Quick Facts

  • Black Canadians currently make up 3.5% of the population and are projected to grow up to 5.6% by 2036 according to StatsCan.
  • Black-led, Black-serving organizations receive as little as $0.07 cents for every $100 granted by Canada’s leading philanthropic foundations.
  • The Foundation for Black Communities (FFBC) is first and only philanthropic foundation dedicated to investing in Black communities and their priorities
  • The FFBC is seeking to establish A $300 million endowment which would provide steady, long-term annual support, enable future planning and strategizing and allow for long-term change
  • The proposed endowment model would provide the financial infrastructure to create benefits for Black communities through sustained, uninterrupted support at scale.
  • FFBC has received generous contributions from Inspirit Foundation, Laidlaw Foundation, MLSE Foundation, Lawson Foundation, Calgary Foundation, Lucie and Andrè Chagnon Foundation, Montreal Foundation and many others. 

About the Foundation for Black Communities

The Foundation for Black Communities (FFBC) is Canada’s first-ever philanthropic foundation dedicated to investing directly in Black-led, Black-serving non-profit and charitable community organizations.

The FFBC is stewarded by a Working Group of Black Canadian professionals within the non-profit, charitable and philanthropic sectors with expertise in community development, grant-making, governance, program development, community engagement and research.

The Working Group made a recommendation to the Federal Government to invest $200 million dollars to seed an asset base for the creation of the Foundation for Black Communities. This funding would leverage an additional $100 million in philanthropic and private sector funding support.

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University of Windsor Law Announces Scholarships in Honour of Pioneering Black Woman Lawyer Thora H. Espinet

11 Apr 2021

The University of Windsor’s Faculty of Law announced, on March 30th, details of scholarships in honour of pioneering law alumnus, Thora H. Espinet.

Called to the bar in 1984, Thora H. Espinet (LL.B 1982) is a lawyer and family law mediator based in Toronto. Born in Clarendon, Jamaica, Espinet (nee Ellis) moved to London, England with her parents before moving to Toronto. After completing her undergraduate degree at York University, she graduated from Windsor Law to become one of the first Black women lawyers in Ontario.

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Street in Little Jamaica renamed "Jimmy Wisdom Way"

07 Oct 2020

Toronto, ON. – Today, North York Community Council unanimously passed a motion by Councillor Mike Colle (Ward 8, Eglinton-Lawrence) to rename Locksley Avenue, from Eglinton Avenue West to Hopewell Avenue, to "Jimmy Wisdom Way."

This initiative, spearheaded by local Councillor Mike Colle over the past several months, is the first of many steps in the creation of the Eglinton West 'Little Jamaica' Heritage Hub, which was approved at Toronto City Council last week.

Known by his thousands of friends and admirers as "Wisdom", Jimmy was a uniquely talented musician and an active community leader and pioneer who constantly gave back to his community and helped many newcomers to Canada and the City of Toronto from his barber's chair on Eglinton Avenue West for over 35 years.

This stretch of Locksley Avenue is located right by Wisdom's barber shop and will honour this great trailblazer in Toronto’s Jamaican Community.

"The Wisdom family is honoured and overjoyed by this decision. We are grateful to Councillor Colle for his recognition and leadership to honour our father, affectionately known as Jimmy Wisdom," said by Ninfa Wisdom

"In renaming this street "Jimmy Wisdom Way" next to where he worked, mentored, and inspired in his barber shop for over 35 years, we honour a man who devoted his whole life to celebrating and respecting his Jamaican roots and culture and weaving this into Toronto’s fabric,” said Mike Colle, Toronto City Councillor Ward 8, Eglinton-Lawrence

"Jimmy Wisdom's legend will live on in Little Jamaica with 'Jimmy Wisdom Way' and I'm glad Councillor Mike Colle and the North York Community Council approved this renaming today. I am committed to celebrating community heroes like Jimmy and preserving the heritage of our neighbourhoods, including Little Jamaica," said Mayor John Tory

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Announcing AFROFEST Online 2020

12 May 2020

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on all outdoor events in Canada, we will be unable to host AFROFEST 2020 which was scheduled to take place on July 4 – 5, 2020 at Woodbine Park.

Music Africa has a 32-year tradition of annually presenting African music and culture in Toronto and last year we expanded our impact by presenting the first edition of AFROFEST Africa in Accra – Ghana. This success can be attributed to community support and our ability to adapt to various socio-economic shifts. As a result, despite the current challenges we will not break the tradition of presenting the festival.

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The Toronto Caribbean Carnival cancelled for the first time in 52 years to help prevent the spread of COVID-19

09 Apr 2020

(TORONTO, ON – April 9th, 2020) - The Board of Directors of the Festival Management Committee has decided that due to the continued developments concerning the spread of COVID-19, the severe public health threat, and global health crisis, the month-long events held in July-August is cancelled.

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