Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Some more Black History Month events and some to mark International Women's Day

By Neil Armstrong
Sandra Whiting, speaker, storyteller and event host will be the keynote speaker at the Jamaican Canadian Association's women's committee International Women's Day celebration on March 12, 2017.

Author, poet and professor, Dionne Brand, in purple, referenced the 1991 NFB film, Sisters in the Struggle, that she made with Ginny Stikeman in her lecture at Ryerson University. That film and two other NFB films -- The Road Taken directed by Selwyn Jacob, 1996, and Journey to Justice by Roger McTair in 2000 -- will be screened on Feb. 27 at United Steelworkers Hall in Toronto.

TD bank held its Black History Month media launch on Jan. 23 and I didn’t realize the extend of the events it is sponsoring until I checked the bank’s website at

Among the events are the ROM Contemporary Culture presenting “Isaac Julien: Other Destinies,” Jan. 21-April23, and the Power Plant at the Harbourfront Centre presenting an Afrofuturism Exhibition. Jan. 28-May 14.

 The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is presenting works by renowned contemporary installation artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien. “Isaac Julien: Other Destinies,” presented by TD Bank Group, opened on January 21 and will run until April 23. The exhibition consists of two immersive film projections, “WESTERN UNION: Small Boats” (2007) and “True North” (2004), both addressing issues of globalization, movements of peoples, displacement, and the aesthetics of geography. The ROM's installation of Isaac's work is one of a three-part execution across Toronto, with programs at OCAD University and the Images Festival.
"Isaac Julien is a one of the most exciting and innovative intellectual thinkers working in the arts today. Through his work, he addresses difficult and sensitive issues in a poetic and visually engaging manner," said Silvia Forni, ROM Curator of African Arts and Culture. "We are thrilled to share his work with ROM visitors, and together with OCAD University and the Images Festival, give Toronto audiences an opportunity to fully explore his practice."

On Feb. 16, RBC held its Black History Month Celebration at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto where it celebrated 30 winners of its 8th annual Black History Month Student Essay Competition, and held a special screening of the film, “Moonlight.”

Each week, RBC releases the essays at website, The final set of them will be released on Feb 27.

The activities of these two banks piqued my interest to find out if the other big banks are doing anything to celebrate Black History Month. I sent emails to the media relations/corporate communications departments of CIBC, Scotiabank, and BMO asking if they had any events to mark the month as I was compiling a list and wanted to include their event . So far, I’ve only heard back from CIBC regarding my inquiry.

Diana Spremo, senior communications consultant – sponsorship & community investment, CIBC Communications and Public Affairs, replied: “In regards to your inquiry, CIBC is committed to Diversity and Inclusion across our organization, and to celebrate Black History Month, we just held a very successful employee and client event this week in Toronto. This was organized by our Employee Affinity Group, or ‘community’ called CBEN: CIBC Black Employee Network. This group is volunteer run (as all our affinity groups are), and our CBEN leaders work to create an inviting and active community. At that event, they launched a new mentorship program where CIBC employees will mentor young people from For Youth Initiative<> -- a Toronto-based not-for-profit that helps teens reach their full potential.”

This was held during the week of Feb. 16-20.


Toronto Public Library Black History Month: On Thursday, Feb. 23, 2-4:15pm, the Barbara Frum library presents the film, “Motherland.” From director, Owen ‘Alik Shahadah comes a film on the African Holocaust and the poignant story of an entire continent.

A Journey Through Dance on Friday, Feb. 24, 10-10:30am at the Riverdale library. Carnival Spice brings an energetic performance highlighting African, Caribbean and hip hop culture through dance and spoken word.

Black Lives, Black Words at the 38th Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre,, on Feb. 24 & 25, 10:00 p.m. in the chamber.
Local black playwrights write 10-minute plays responding to the theme "Do Black Lives Matter today?" The project that has explored the Black diaspora experience in Chicago, Minneapolis, and London, UK, get its first Toronto iteration, in partnership with Rhubarb, Obsidian Theatre Company, and the National Arts Centre.
The project creator is Reginald Edmund and the local playwrights are Kanika Ambrose, Leelee Davis, Jordan Laffrenier, Tawiah M'Carthy & Motion.

2nd annual Black Diamond Ball presented by TD & ArtXperiential will be held on Feb. 25 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto featuring: Divine Brown, Glenn Lewis, Michie Mee and Simone Denny. Host: Patricia Jaggernauth

BAIE 2017 Black Arts & Innovation Expo
Excelovate and First Book Canada have partnered with leading corporations, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, artist and innovators to deliver an event that promotes diversity and inspires excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).

This event defines a new way of celebrating Black History Month with focused attention placed on the remarkable achievements of tomorrow’s legends. Meet this outstanding group of new leaders and experience their valuable contributions to music, literature, visual arts, entrepreneurship and technology.
BAIE 2017 takes place on February 25, 2:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. at the York Mills Gallery, 1885 Leslie St., Toronto.

Celebrating Excellence. Reverend John C. Holland Awards and Gala on Saturday, Feb. 25, doors open at 5:30p.m., dinner at 6:30p.m. at Grand Central Ballroom, Liuna Station, 360 James St. North, Hamilton. For more information, call Louise 905-865-1027/Marlene 905-921-9646

African Canadian Achievement Awards will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25, 7pm at the Jane Mallet Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front Street East, Toronto. Tickets: $45 adults, $25 for students 18 years and under. Call 905-668-8869

TD presents “Tribute to the Legends of Reggae” paying tribute to Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs and Culture on Saturday, Feb. 25, 8pm (doors open); show starts at 9pm at The Opera House, 735 Queen St. East, Toronto. Live performances by: Ken Boothe, Exco Levi and High Priest, Nana McLean, Chester Miller, Mr. Cooper, Hardcore Band. Music provided by DJ Joshua Luca.
Tickets: $25 advance, $30 at the door. VIP Tickets: $50 advance, $55 at the door
Info: Jones & Jones: 905-452-1911

Lululemon’s The Local Toronto + Young Black Canucks will hold a wrap-up of Black History Month celebration on Sunday, Feb. 26 at The Local Toronto, 96 Ossington Ave., Toronto. Doors open at 4pm, panel at 5-6pm, and from 6-7:30pm a social.

In celebration of Black History Month, the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities and Faculty of Education of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology present George Elliott Clarke, Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate on Monday, Feb. 27, reception: 6-7pm, lecture: 7-9pm at Regent Theatre, 50 King St. East, Oshawa. RSVP and information:

"Empowering our Community: Politicizing our Struggles" -- African Heritage and Black History Month by the CBTU, OFL and CLC
Learn about the history of the Black Sleeping Car Porters, the double legacy of racism and sexism facing Black women in politics and
the story of Viola Desmond and other brave anti-racist activists who refused to accept inequality. Three films – Sisters in the Struggle, The Road Taken, and Journey to Justice -- will be screened recounting these struggles followed by a discussion on the current struggles facing our community with the objective of developing strategies to makes our voices heard through political action. The films will be shown at the same time so choose the film that speaks to you.

Then add your voice in a community-based discussion to help shape the political action work of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Ontario Federation of Labour and Canadian Labour Congress. By working in solidarity with Black and racialized workers across Canada we will continue the legacy of our ancestors to challenge anti-black racism in our times. 
Monday, Feb. 27, 6:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at United Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St., Toronto. A free event.  

culchahworks Arts Collective presents"Belafonte at 90" a tribute celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 8pm at Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre. Culchaworks honours the artist, activist, and icon on his milestone birthday, with an electrifying presentaton of words, dance, theatre, images, and music. Written, directed and produced by Andrew Craig. Choreographed by Melissa Noventa. $55 tickets available through Harbourfront Centre Box Office, 416-973-4000, or



In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) & Le Mouvement Ontarien des Femmes Immigrantes Francophones will launch their new graphic novel, “Telling Our Stories: Immigrant Women’s Resilience” on Thursday, March 2, 5:30-8:00 p.m. at Women’s College Hospital Auditorium, 76 Grenville St., Toronto. Please RSVP by Monday, Feb. 27. Free admission. Refreshments will be served. ASL Interpretation will be available. For more information, contact
The graphic novel is part of OCASI’s Prevention of Sexual Violence and Harassment Project, generously funded by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

The 9th annual Viola Desmond Awards at Ryerson University will be held on March 6, 5-8pm at POD252 (reception and gallery walk), the awards ceremony starts at 6pm at POD250. Open to the public.

International Women’s Day Toronto 2017 Rally and March starting at the University of Toronto Medical Sciences Building, 1 King’s College Circle on Saturday, March 11. Rally at 11am, King’s College Circle; march at 1pm, and fair at 2pm at Ryerson University, 55 Gould St., Toronto.

The Women’s Committee of the Jamaican Canadian Association presents its annual International Women’s Day Celebration on Sunday, March 12, 2:00-5:00pm at the Jamaican Canadian Centre, 995 Arrow Rd., Toronto. Keynote speaker: Sandra Whiting, speaker, storyteller and event host. Call 416-746-5772

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