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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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Without providing access to paid emergency leave, Ford’s COVID-19 legislation misses the mark, says Ontario Federation of Labour

20 Mar 2020

TORONTO, March 19, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In these unprecedented times, the government of Ontario must put the health and safety of all workers and the public first. The OFL is hopeful that the bill tabled today by the Ontario government is merely a first step toward protecting Ontarians. This legislation leaves out essential elements that will protect all Ontario workers and vulnerable people in this province, most notably 21 paid emergency leave days, says the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL).

“Job-protected leave is no good if workers can’t afford to use it. The government must make it possible for workers to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, and practice social distancing and self-isolation to slow the spread of this virus. Unless all workers have paid emergency leave and other supports so they can take recommended precautions without financial hardship, Ontario’s ability to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic will be impeded,” said OFL President Patty Coates.

“Not all workers are covered under this emergency legislation. Front line workers who are doing the essential work to keep this province healthy and safe need assurances and protections. The government must ensure that all public services are properly funded, accessible, and affordable for all workers that are keeping Ontarians healthy and safe during this crisis. Needed supports should be available to all, regardless of their status, immediately and without barriers, so everyone can take care of their health and the safety of their families and communities,” said Coates.

While Ford’s emergency provisions take modest first steps, such as removing the requirement for workers to obtain a sick note and providing job protections to stop employers from implementing reprisals against workers who self-isolate, it still leaves far too many without needed protections.

Shortly after being elected, the Ford government removed two paid sick days for all workers from the Employment Standards Act. Previous to this crisis, they repeatedly ignored calls from labour and community organizations to improve decent work laws, including providing seven paid sick days.

The OFL reminds all workers that they have the right to refuse what they believe to be unsafe work, and that employers are required by law to take every reasonable precaution to ensure safe and healthy workplaces.

Labour, community, and migrant organizations are the voice of workers in this province and must be at the table and involved in creating, planning, and implementing a COVID-19 response that will work for all Ontarians, and to ensure that no one is left behind.

“The Premier continues to say that workers should ‘stay home when [they] are sick,’ when he knows very well that it is impossible for workers to follow that directive if they do not have paid leave and other supports,” said Coates. “Ontario is only as healthy as the most vulnerable person in our province.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour provided recommendations to the government of Ontario to flatten the curve during the COVID-19 global pandemic, and sent a letter to the Premier outlining recommendations for the legislation and needed supports.

“Ontarians want to feel confident that the government is looking out for them,” said Coates. “We urge the government to take further measures to protect workers when they present their fiscal and economic update.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

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BBPA 2019 National Scholarship Recipients

28 Oct 2019

The BBPA National Scholarship Program is proud to announce the 50 African-Canadians from across Canada who recently received the 2019 BBPA National Scholarships. The BBPA National Scholarships provide financial assistance to Canadian students of African descent currently enrolled in post-secondary programs. Recipients were selected based on academic excellence, a demonstrated financial need and recognized contributions to their communities.

York University was pleased to join the BBPA National Scholarship Fund in hosting the 2019 BBPA National Scholarships presentation ceremony, which took place on Thursday, October 3, 2019, at the Tribute Communities Hall, 83 York Blvd, Accolade East Building, Main Floor at York University at 6:00 p.m.

“We are very proud of the young women and men who are receiving the 2019 BBPA National Scholarships,” said Luther Hansraj, Chair of the BBPA National Scholarship Fund. “They have achieved academic success while making significant contributions to their communities. These young people will be the future leaders that all Canadians can be proud of.”

The President of the BBPA Nadine Spencer shared; “The BBPA is inspired by the truly remarkable talents and resilience of our scholarship recipients. They represent the significant positive narratives in our community that are often overlooked and unpronounced. I am honoured and humbled to have the BBPA and our donors demonstrate our commitment to their success.”

“Our government is proud to invest and celebrate these exceptional students, as we work together to ensure they reach their full potential in a province that recognizes the God-given ability of every student. Their commitment to service, leadership, and learning is commendable, and underscores my confidence in the future of our country, democracy, and economy,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

The Black Business and Professional Association established the BBPA National Scholarship Fund, formerly entitled “the BBPA Harry Jerome Scholarship Fund” in 1986. The BBPA National Scholarships are made possible through the contribution of diligent sponsors and donors. Since the scholarship fund began, over 1000 post-secondary students from the Black community nationwide have been awarded scholarships totalling $3.7 Million.

Donors to the BBPA National Scholarship Program include:

  • Ministry of Education
  • BBPA Future Leaders Scholarship
  • The Dentons Canada Scholarship
  • Christeen Ross Julien Scholarship, Stanley Julian
  • The Minerva Scholarship, Dr. Ross
  • Toronto Community Housing
  • TD Bank Scholarship
  • University of Toronto
  • Dr. Quida M. Wright
  • Ray Williams
  • Chef Roger Mooking
  • York University

The 2019 BBPA National Scholarships recipients are:

  • Aaron Parry
  • Adara Harry
  • Aishat Bello
  • Amanda Owusu
  • Aniyah Stuart-Veira
  • Anthony Downy
  • Ayesha Hassan
  • Caila Palmer
  • Cameron Rodriguez
  • Carl Lamers
  • Chante Hamilton
  • Charmaine Ross
  • Chidubem Nkoloagu
  • Debora Ocholi
  • Eki Okungbowa
  • Falan Bennett
  • Jinepher Koduah
  • Jordyn Goins
  • Joycelyn Asantewaa-Akuoko
  • Keneca Pingue-Giles
  • Keona Simmons
  • Khalil Wheatle
  • Kimathi Bwomono
  • Lama Elfaki
  • Leigh-Ann Grant
  • Lilian Dwira
  • Lina Elfaki
  • Marisa Coulton
  • Muna Mohamed
  • Mya Hastings
  • Najma Abdalla
  • Natalie Ramaabya
  • Nicole  Mfoafo-M'Carthy
  • Nyah Wagner
  • Rebecca Amoah
  • Rebecca Konadu-Bruce
  • Ross Cocks
  • Safia Hirsi
  • Shanice Nkathazo
  • Shaquille Morgan
  • Sommer Knight
  • Sonia Igboanugo
  • Sophia Tracey
  • Taejah Noble
  • Tafyra  Poyser
  • Teresa Akinbodun
  • Tsinat Semagn
  • Victoria Ebereany

The BBPA, founded in 1983, is a non-profit, charitable organization that addresses equity and opportunity for the Black community in business, employment, education and economic development. Our purpose is;

  • To encourage and support the pursuit of entrepreneurship, business, professional excellence, higher education and economic empowerment.
  • To facilitate access to ecosystems and resources.
  • To identify and reward excellence in achievement.
  • To establish linkages and co-operate with other organizations on matters pertaining to business, education, economic development and community wellness.

To build cross-cultural understanding and promote equity.

For more information please visit us online at www.bbpa.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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Insights Discussion Series announced

28 Sep 2019

The Insights Discussion Series complements the upcoming Mandela: Struggle for Freedom exhibition with discussion topics focusing on systems of segregation and discrimination; youth activism; trans and two-spirit activism; and resilience, hope, and humanitarianism.

(TORONTO, ON – September 27, 2019)  As a complement to the upcoming Mandela: Struggle for Freedom exhibition at Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts), The Insights Discussion Series highlights our own human rights issues and the local activists currently fighting for the betterment of us all.

Curated by Timea Wharton-Suri and hosted by Garvia Bailey, the four discussions will be offered FREE to the public with registration.  Two of the Insights Discussion Series will be hosted at North York Central Library, one at Meridian Hall’s lower lobby (formerly the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts), and one at the Greenwin Theatre, Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts).   

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom, developed by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg in collaboration with the Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa and presented in Toronto by TO Live, runs from October 10, 2019 - January 5, 2020 in the Gallery at the Meridian Arts Centre.

Originally home to MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art), the Gallery at the Meridian Arts Centre consists of over 3,850 sq. ft. of exhibition space over two floors that are linked by the upper and lower levels of the lobby. The exhibition utilizes both floors of the Gallery and areas of the lobby. Themes of the exhibit include explorations of apartheid, defiance, repression, mobilization and freedom, and there are Canadian connections throughout. 

“The exhibition profiles Nelson Mandela and the movement that formed around him. Mandela: Struggle for Freedom is about one man, but it is also about the many who came together to oppose racism and injustice,” said curator Timea Wharton-Suri. “It’s important to continue to move the issues raised in the exhibition forward and The Insights Discussion Series will focus on the many diverse voices doing important activist work locally. 

Given the issues Mandela championed, it’s vital that robust discussions about the parallels between apartheid and Canada’s treatment of Indigenous communities, along with the social and economic concerns many face every day living in Toronto continue.” 

The Insights Discussion Series:

Parallels: Apartheid Policies in Canada and South Africa

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

North York Central Library’s 2nd Floor Auditorium - 5120 Yonge Street
Mandela: Struggle for Freedom Exhibition
 Apartheid Zone: The Bantustans are the reserves of South Africa. Separate laws and reserves for racialized groups can be compared to the Indian Act in Canada and the reserve system for First Nations created during colonization. Indigenous peoples in Canada and South Africa have had laws imposed on them according to a colonial construct of race based on skin colour. What are the parallels in the colonial regimes of Canada and South Africa? What are the legacies of both regimes? Authors Dr. Lynn Gehl, Kagiso Lesego Molope and Dr. John S. Saul will provide insights into the parallels between and impacts of the colonial regimes of Canada and South Africa.

Catalysts: Youth Activism on the Rise

Wednesday, October 30, 2019    
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

North York Central Library’s 2nd Floor Auditorium - 5120 Yonge Street

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom Exhibition Mobilization Zone: There is an exhibit area dedicated to the actions taken by Canadians to support the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. When it comes to global mobilization, local activists have always been at the frontlines of human rights movements, including youth. Today there is a heightened interest in advocacy and activist engagement among youth where they are more likely to be involved in issue-based actions or organizations, can address specific concerns, and mobilize others sharing similar views. What inspires local youth activists? How does activism in one’s youth evolve over time? Randell Adjei, Rana Nasrazadani and Caitlin Tolley will share their insights.

Pioneers: Trans and Two-Spirit Activists Generating Social Change

Friday, November 8, 2019 
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Meridian Hall (formerly the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts), 1 Front Street East, Lower Lobby

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom Exhibition Defiance Zone: The South African Freedom Charter could be compared to the List of Rights asserted by Louis Riel and his provisional government to protect the rights of all people in Manitoba and enshrined in the Manitoba Act. Like other freedom fighters of the past, trans and two-spirit community members are pioneers in human rights activism, working to secure rights for all people in defiance of systemic discrimination and violence. Activists are working toward social and institutional reform, focusing on poverty reduction, health care, violence, housing rights, and isolation. Canada is home to some of the world’s staunchest human rights activists for trans and two-spirit peoples. What are the strategies and forms of resistance these activists are employing to generate social change? How can we all get involved to create a more equitable society? Toronto’s Samson Bonkeabantu Brown and Manitoba’s Brielle Beardy-Linklater will share their personal experiences and insights.

Triumphs: A conversation with Former Child Soldier, Musician, Actor, and Refugee Activist, Emmanuel Jal

Tuesday, December 10, 2019        
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Greenwin Theatre, Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts), 5040 Yonge Street

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom Exhibition Freedom Zone: The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is highlighted in the exhibit, as is the Canadian TRC. These Commissions are only the beginning of a long journey towards reconciliation in this country and others around the world. From his start in life as a child soldier in Southern Sudan in the early 1980s, Emmanuel Jal has survived immense struggles to become an acclaimed recording artist, actor, author and peace ambassador now living in Toronto. He has performed his music at Live 8 and Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert. His triumph over his plight as a refugee taught him about the need to give back. Jal is the founder of We Want Peace (WWP) which aims to raise awareness on the fundamental principles of justice, equality and freedom for all through the power of music. 

WWP supporters include Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, Richard Branson, George Clooney, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Yasir Arman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Emmanuel has received The Dresden Peace Prize, The Mattie Stepanek Peacemaker Prize, and been awarded by Ban Ki-Moon at the UN for his peacekeeping efforts in South Sudan. He received his Canadian citizenship in the spring of 2019. Join Emmanuel for an inspiring evening of stories about his journey toward internal reconciliation and songs that celebrate the human spirit.

TO Live presents

The Insights Discussion Series 

Parallels: Apartheid Policies in Canada and South Africa

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

North York Central Library’s 2nd Floor Auditorium - 5120 Yonge Street

Catalysts: Youth Activism on the Rise

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

North York Central Library’s 2nd Floor Auditorium - 5120 Yonge Street

Pioneers: Trans and Two-Spirit Activists Generating Social Change

Friday, November 8, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Meridian Hall (formerly the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts),

1 Front Street East, Lower Lobby

Triumphs: A conversation with Former Child Soldier, Musician, Actor, and Refugee Activist, Emmanuel Jal

Tuesday, December 10, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Greenwin Theatre, Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts), 5040 Yonge Street

Admission to the The Insights Discussion Series is FREE but

Pre-registration is highly recommended.

Added Bonus: When you register, you’ll receive a discount offer of 15% off tickets to both South Africa’s Isango Ensemble, Bluma Appel Theatre, November 13 – 17, 2019 and The Kingdom Choir, George Weston Recital Hall, Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts), November 5 & 6, 2019.

For more information and to register, visit https://www.tolive.com/insights

About Timea Wharton-Suri

Timea Wharton-Suri is an arts and entertainment professional with twenty years' experience directing dance productions, cultural programs, and arts education projects that are accessible to a broad range of communities. She is a programmer and producer of dance, multi-arts and literary events; an arts management consultant; and an advisor to arts organizations. Timea earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance from York University, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Arts and Media Management Graduate Diploma from Schulich School of Business. She performed for several years with dance companies such as Ballet Creole and Ronald Taylor Dance before opening a dance/fitness studio – one of the first that now proliferate in urban centres. In addition to producing three of her own choreographic works, Timea produced four larger-scale entertainment presentations in Toronto and the Caribbean. While working as a programmer and producer at large, she is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of Dance Media Group, an Artistic Advisor to Dancemakers Centre for Creation, and a funding advisor to the National Arts Centre's Creation Fund.

Participant bios:

Insights Discussion Series Host:

Garvia Bailey is inspired and driven by the power of sharing our stories. Stories are where art meets activism, where the personal embraces the political. For over 20 years her focus as a journalist, interviewer, educator and pundit has been on serving those who seek out beauty, meaning and connection through well-told stories. Most recently, she told the story of jazz and the colourful musicians who inhabit that world as host of Good Morning, Toronto on JazzFM.91 - Jazz and the Arts. Before that, she spent 10 years with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as an arts journalist/producer and broadcaster. While with the CBC, Garvia served as the host of a variety of radio programs, including Big City Small World and Canada Live, as a columnist for Metro Morning and as a contributor at cbcmusic.ca, CBC Television, and as a producer on the documentary programs Global Village and Outfront.

As a freelancer, Garvia has contributed to Out In the Open and Tapestry, Sunday Edition among others, and been tapped as a commentator on CBC’s flagship news program, The National. Throughout her career in broadcasting, she has turned the spotlight on emerging talent from across the GTA and has also interviewed many celebrated international artists including cultural pundit Roxane Gay, author Lawrence Hill, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, director John Singleton, actor Chris Tucker, jazz icon Tony Bennett, and many others. She is a regular host/moderator for the Toronto Public Library and Hot Docs who prides herself on bringing wit, warmth and curiosity to her interviews.

Garvia recently joined the jury pool for the prestigious Canadian Hillman Prize, honouring the best in investigative journalism. She is currently working on her own major photo/storytelling exhibit with Black Artist in Dialogue (BAND), an upcoming book-focused podcast with the Toronto Public Library, and on various projects with the award-winning multi-media production company Pop Sandbox as a writer and producer. Garvia is a co-founder and host/producer of jazzcast.ca.

Parallels Discussion Panelists:

Lynn Gehl, Ph.D., is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe. She is an advocate, artist, writer, and an outspoken critic of colonial law and policies that harm Indigenous women, men, children, and the land. Her 2014 book based on her doctoral work ‘The Truth that Wampum Tells: My Debwewin on the Algonquin Land Claims Process’ was published with Fernwood Publishing. Her 2017 book, ‘Claiming Anishinaabe: Decolonizing the Human Spirit’, explores her journey to reclaim Indigenous knowledge after experiencing cultural genocide. In April 2017, after her 22-year legal battle, Lynn was successful in defeating Indian and Northern Affairs Canada’s unstated paternity policy when the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the sex discrimination in the Indian Act was unreasonable.

Kagiso Lesego Molope is an award-winning author, human rights advocate, and an apartheid survivor. She is the author of the 2006 IBBY List Honour book, Dancing in the Dust.  

Her second novel, The Mending Season is on the school curriculum in South Africa and was a finalist for the 2008 Percy Fitzpatrick Price.  She won the Percy Fitzpatrick Prize for Youth Literature in 2014 for This Book Betrays My Brother, which was also a Globe and Mail Best 100 Book and Kirkus Review's Best Books of 2018.  He latest novel, Such a Lonely, Lovely Road was listed as one of CBC's Best Books of 2018.  She is a graduate student in English Literature at Carleton University.

John S. Saul, Ph.D., was educated at the Universities of Toronto, Princeton and London and, on the ground, across Africa. He taught for many years both at York University in Canada where he serves as Professor Emeritus and in Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa. Saul has been a liberation support/anti-apartheid/anti-imperialist activist both in Canada and in Southern Africa since the 1960s, notably with the Toronto Committee for the Liberation of Southern Africa (TCLSAC) and with Southern Africa Report magazine. He has published 25 books including: The Next Liberation Struggle: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy in Southern AfricaDevelopment after Decolonization: Theory and Practice for the Embattled South in a New Imperial Age; and Recolonization and Resistance: Southern Africa in the 1990s. He is presently completing his 26th book, The Thirty Years War for Southern African Liberation, 1960-1994: A History, for publication in 2020 by Cambridge University Press.

Catalysts Discussion Panelists:

Randell Adjei is an entrepreneur, speaker and spoken word practitioner who uses his gifts to empower through Edutainment. He is the founder of one of Toronto's largest youth-led initiatives, Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere (R.I.S.E Edutainment). In 2018, R.I.S.E received the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Mayor’s Youth Arts Award. Randell is the author of “I am Not my struggles,” a powerful Anthology released in 2018. He is a cohort 2 Studio Y MaRS DD Fellow and one of four coaches involved in the Toronto Public Library (Poetry Saved Our Lives) project. Randell was the Black Canadian Awards Best Spoken Word award winner in 2015. He was also named CBC’s Metro Morning’s Torontonian of the Year in 2015 and NOW Magazines Local Hero in May 2017.

Rana Nasrazadani is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Human Rights and Equity Studies at York University. Her advocacy work focuses on education, accessibility, human rights and centering youth voice. Rana has been advocating for youth with Disabilities from a young age.

She was an ambassador for Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital for over 15 years and was involved in several public awareness campaigns. As a project coordinator at the Ontario Child Advocate, Rana designed and facilitated workshops for non-profit organizations, the private sector, and government agencies focused on challenging ableism and educating on accessibility and inclusion. Rana is currently a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee which is working to develop a province-wide standard to improve accessibility within Ontario’s education system. Rana has been featured in the Toronto Star and CBC’s The Current and was a featured speaker at the Toronto Women’s March in January 2018. Advocacy work focuses on education, accessibility, human rights and centering youth voice. In 2019, Rana spoke to the Senate of Canada on the issue of inaccessibility in Ontario’s education system. Her years of advocacy work have been recognized with features in the Toronto Star and on CBC’s The Current, and with her serving as a featured speaker at the Toronto Women’s March in January 2018. 

Caitlin Tolley is Algonquin from Kitigan-Zibi, Quebec. She received an undergraduate and law degree from the University of Ottawa. Caitlin was recently called to the Ontario Bar. She is currently working in the legal department for a large financial institution. In 2018, Caitlin was recognized by the Public Policy Forum as the emerging leader award recipient.

Pioneers Discussion Panelists:

Brielle Beardy-Linklater is a Two-Spirit, Transgender, Queer woman from the Nisichaweyasihk Cree Nation. She is an advocate for 2SLGBTQ+, Indigenous and poor/working-class struggles. She also made history as the first trans woman to sit in the Canadian Parliament on International Women's Day in 2017. Brielle speaks out about the need to challenge transphobia in her community and in society, and in 2014, she helped organize the first Pride North of 55 celebrations in Northern Manitoba. Brielle is the winner of the 2018 Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award, which recognizes Manitobans aged 25 and under who fight for people’s freedoms.

Samson Bonkeabantu Brown is a self-described Jamal Of All Hustles, with a primary focus on trans advocacy and the arts. He uses the arts (acting, tap dancing, playwriting, stage and production managing) to create visibility for men of trans experience and to educate the general public on trans issues.

Through matrilineal ancestry, he is South African; through patrilineal ancestry, he is Portuguese. He wrote and stars in 11:11, which explores fear through the eyes of a young black transman struggling to obey the ancestral messages saturating his dreams. Samson was featured in a recent Gillett commercial demonstrating a transgender man learning to shave with some coaching from his father. 

Triumphs Discussion Participant:

About Emmanuel Jal - From his start in life as a child soldier in Southern Sudan in the early 1980s, Emmanuel Jal has survived immense struggles to become an acclaimed recording artist, actor, author and peace ambassador now living in Toronto. He has performed his music at Live 8 and Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert. His triumph over his plight as a refugee taught him about the need to give back. Jal is the founder of We Want Peace (WWP) which aims to raise awareness on the fundamental principles of justice, equality and freedom for all through the power of music. WWP supporters include Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, Richard Branson, George Clooney, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Yasir Arman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Emmanuel has received The Dresden Peace Prize, The Mattie Stepanek Peacemaker Prize, and been awarded by Ban Ki-Moon at the UN for his peacekeeping efforts in South Sudan. He received his Canadian citizenship in the spring of 2019.

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