Friday, 26 July 2019

Emancipation Day to be Celebrated in Toronto

By Neil Armstrong

Emancipation Day (August 1) will be celebrated in Toronto with an annual train ride organized by A Different Booklist Cultural Centre and an event hosted by the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS).

On August 1, 1834, the Slavery Abolition Act, also known as ‘Emancipation Day,’ secured the freedom of people of African origin throughout the British Empire which included Canada.

This year the OBHS will hold its annual celebration of freedom with a series of events, starting on August 1 at the Artscape Sandbox in Toronto.

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard of Halifax, Nova Scotia will be the keynote speaker that evening that will also feature artists from the city.

The Canadian senator will be among hundreds that will gather at Toronto’s busiest subway station, Union, at 10:45 p.m. on July 31 for the 7th annual Emancipation Day Underground Freedom Train Ride which will start there and end at Sheppard West station where the celebration welcoming Emancipation Day will continue until 1:00 a.m.

Under the theme #ResilienceDespitetheOdds, the train ride will feature leaders, activists, and politicians from the Black community in Toronto.

Among them will be literary critic and poet, George Elliott Clarke, and Senator Thomas Bernard will act as the conductor following in the tradition of Harriet Tubman, lead conductor of the Underground Railroad which led many African Americans seeking freedom to Canada.

“This ride, symbolic of the role of the Underground Railroad in Canadian history, is free and open to the public. Everyone should know and have freedom, and it’s our collective responsibility to liberate,” said the organizers.

Referencing a recent article by Toronto-based human right lawyer, Anthony Morgan, and news stories about immigration officers recently conducting street checks in Toronto, and other issues, they said, “we are not there yet.”

“Emancipation Day honours the history, memory, and legacy of Black Canadian’s resistance to white supremacy. It also recognizes Canada’s complicity in the enslaving of Africans and how this colonial heritage stole Black liberation. However, this Black Canadian cultural tradition that once thrived is now barely surviving after more than 184 years. The holiday has significantly waned in terms of its public familiarity, currency and relevance,” writes Morgan.

He notes that, “the resulting failure diminishes the tradition’s potential to unify, organize, and mobilize diverse Black communities around a consciousness of Black liberation in Canada. This is also a lost opportunity for deepening community development and fostering a sense of belonging within Black Canadian communities.”

The organizers said #FTR2019 is “a continuation of A Different Booklist’s traditional effort to strengthen and unify our community.”

Natasha Henry, now president of the OBHS, in her book, ‘Emancipation Day: Celebrating Freedom in Canada,’ writes that, “The end of the horrific, inhumane practice of African slavery in all British colonies was the result of the determination of enslaved Africans in the New World, including Canada, along with Black and White abolitionists in the Western Hemisphere and in Europe.”

Henry notes that the passage of the 1833 Abolition of Slavery Bill was a victory for those who advocated fervently, but most importantly, for the people who were emancipated.

“In recognition of their newly acquired freedom, which came into effect in most British territories on August 1, 1834, former slaves quickly created a venue from which to express their allegiance, elation, and gratitude. The first day of liberation was a joyous occasion, for which emancipation came freedom and much cause for great celebration.”

Rosemary Sadlier, president of the Black Canadian Network and past president of the OBHS, says in 1997, in support of the initiative of the Caribbean Historical Society of Trinidad and Tobago, she began seeking official recognition of August 1 as Emancipation Day.

“I was successful with the City of Toronto, Metro Toronto, the City of Ottawa, and by 2008, the Province of Ontario. It has gone to second reading twice in our Canadian Parliament.”

Sadlier noted that with the new federal government and a more sizable Black Caucus, she initiated a parliamentary petition to facilitate/ensure that August 1 would be considered for national commemoration. She said she initiated the idea with Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard who was happy to take it on and make it a Senate matter.

“With her incredible support, and the hard work of her office, Bill S-255 – An Act proclaiming Emancipation Day, has gone to second reading,” says Sadlier about the senator.

Sadlier is encouraging people to celebrate the day in any way that suits them, whether it be a spiritual service at their place of worship, a community event, or crafting a letter to have Emancipation Day off as a paid holiday or joining the Emancipation Day Underground Freedom Train Ride.

Morgan recently wrote a creative Afrofuturistic article which he entitled a “Template letter to employer requesting a day off for Emancipation Day” for the Nova Scotia Advocate.

“Maybe you will find something going on in your community that will commemorate August 1st as Emancipation Day! Maybe that means that you will contact your Senator to let them know that you want to see August 1st recognized in Canada! It is Black History and it is Canadian History!” writes Sadlier in an email.

[This story has been published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, July 25-31, 2019.]

Toronto Caribbean Carnival has a Longer Route for Parade and Entertainment Zones

By Neil Armstrong

Mayor John Tory and some masqueraders at the official launch of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto

The Festival Management Committee (FMC), organizer of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, has officially launched the month-long celebration at Nathan Phillips Square in the heart of the city.

The carnival is the largest cultural event in Canada and largest outdoor festival in North America.

Chris Alexander, chief administrative officer of the FMC, says there are some new things this year including a much longer route so masqueraders can “do a lot of stuff” and entertainment zones.

Most of the grand parade on August 3 will happen outside of the grounds of Exhibition Place and will go along Lake Shore Boulevard to west of Parkside Avenue and then turn around to head to Canada Boulevard.

Alexander says 75 per cent of the route is on the street outside Exhibition Place while the rest is on the inside – a gated area and an area for VIPs so they can access money to operate the parade.

He says the FMC has expanded activities over the month and there are many events happening in Malvern that are related to the junior carnival, such as the Jr. Carnival King & Queen Showcase and Jr. Carnival Parade & Family Day.

The organizers have made a conscious effort to hold many of the events outside of the core of the Toronto.

“We have more bands this year, more masqueraders obviously so we have increased guest bands. We have the competitive bands, which we have a number of those staging in different areas; we have non-competitive bands, which is new this year. It’s the same costumed bands but now they’re just not competing and then we have the steel bands.”

He says it will not be a standing parade where masqueraders are waiting to get on stage. Instead it is a movement and there are areas where they can “stop and do a whole bunch of stuff.

On the matter of not having a title sponsor this year, Alexander said the FMC has a three-tier model that includes sponsorship, gating some events and government granting.

He said the impact of the carnival does a lot for the city and its economic impact is $400million and plus.

“We’re surviving, we will need more; we always need more, we need more sponsors, obviously, it’s something that will always do well for the festival.”

The CAO said a big reason they need sponsors for the festival is because the majority of the events are free such as the Junior Carnival and other activities held throughout the city.

Alexander said 15 per cent of people who come to the major carnival event are the ones that pay, 85 per cent of people see the carnival for free.

“We want to continue to do that, we want to continue to give that to Toronto to make sure that everybody understands that it is a gift to us. It was a gift in 1967 and it’s still a gift today.”

The organizers have created a hashtag, #RespectTheParade. Alexander explained that they want people to see the spectacle of the parade but what many people tend to do is join in and make it a street party which it is really not.

“We really want people to respect the parade, respect the mas, respect the masqueraders so what we’ve done this year is a number of things to make sure that happens.”

Instead of having one stage and one activity taking place where everybody joins in the parade because it was the only thing happening, this year they have created a number of diversion or entertainment zones along the parade route.

There are five of these which will allow people to go get food, get refreshed and get entertained while the masquerade is taking place and they can see the mas on the street.

Joe Halstead, chair of the board of the FMC, says the carnival is stronger today than it has ever been and they are ready to celebrate this year. He said symbolically the festival is a celebration of freedom and diversity and as a community it is brought to the city with love and pride.

While acknowledging funding from all levels of government, Halstead said the City of Toronto is the strongest and most reliable supporter of the festival.

Mayor John Tory said the City has provided a cheque for $625, 000 to the organizers and is providing the usual city services such as policing and work done by other departments.

“The Caribbean Carnival is a nation thing, it’s a provincial thing but it’s really a Toronto thing. It’s ours, it was born here 52 years ago; it’s going to live here for 1052 years from now and that’s why we’re proud to be the biggest supporter.”

He said the festival shows off the wonderful African Canadian Caribbean communities that the city is privileged to have.

Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson said fifty-two years ago the carnival was a gift to Canada by the Caribbean community as part of Canada’s centennial celebration. It attracts over two million people annually.

[This story has been published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, July 25-31, 2019.]

Thursday, 18 July 2019

'A Little Black Lie' Returns to the Stage in Toronto

By Neil Armstrong

Photo credit: Crossfield House Productions  Troy Crossfield and Sheronna Osbourne are leads in the play 'A Little Black Lie'

Fresh off it’s run at the DC Black Theatre and Arts Festival, Crossfield House Productions is bringing back its award-winning play, 'A Little Black Lie,' to Toronto's Tarragon Theatre.

Directed by Douglas Prout and written and produced by Troy Crossfield, it will run from July 24-28.

Founded by the writer, actor and producer in 2016, Crossfield House Productions is an independent Black-owned production company in Toronto that specializes in producing theatre and film.

Crossfield, a Jamaican-Canadian who is appearing in season two of the TVJ show, 'Ring Games,' has produced two successful plays that have been performed locally and internationally.

Dahlia Harris wrote and produced Ring Games and then casted him from Toronto to go to Jamaica and play one of their lead roles in the drama series.

He decided to start his company because as an actor in many productions he has seen producers who could not continue their projects because of finances. There was also the issue of the lack of roles in Toronto which led him to bring onboard a group of people he believes in and who are on his team.

“We can do our own thing, let’s put ourselves on stage. Let’s open up the doors for ourselves. A lot of times when we go in these audition rooms we’re not always getting called,” says Crossfield while also noting that it is a great time to be black now to “write our own narratives.”

He plays the male lead, Michael, in 'A Little Black Lie,' while Sheronna Osbourne plays the female lead, Stacey.

Like 'A Little White Lie,' 'A Little Black Lie' pivots around the character Michael Myers who is dealing with identity issues that impact his family, friendships and relationships. This plays out all around him and in the other characters as well.

“It is a mix of comedy and drama and we deal with heavy issues like illness in the family, lies within relationships that come out and he has Stacey that is his love interest in both shows, and just figuring out a way of how to get her in his life and how to keep her in his life once all these lies are exposed,” says Osbourne who is a partner in the company and also a fashion stylist.

Crossfield says what is important for them while they are developing more stories is consistency and they hope to become the Tyler Perry of Toronto.

The cast has 20 actors and Osbourne says the biggest challenge is scheduling rehearsal time but they have gotten into a groove in terms of doing so for specific scenes.

“We have truly grown organically into this family; we’re like brothers and sisters,” says Osbourne who is also the costume designer.

Like Osbourne and other partners in the company, Crossfield wears multiple hats and is “like the Tyler Perry model where he is writing his first shows and then being on stage and directing films.”

“I’ve always taken on those multiple roles just in being multifaceted too – being an actor, being a writer, being assigned to Sony Music as a songwriter it just allows me to work my brain in different areas at the same time.”

When he is in rehearsals he gets to be Michael but if they have a question related to the script he changes from that character to become the writer.

Sometimes Prout will call for the writer or has a question about costumes and both Crossfield and Osbourne have to come out of their characters to provide answers and then return to the roles.

Through humour, gentleness, transparency and Caribbean flavour, their plays discuss forgiveness, acceptance, healing, and moving forward. They have also opened the doors for their audience to have important conversations with their
family and friends.

The company is currently in pre-production mode for its first official film out of Crossfield House Productions which is the film version of the first play, 'A Little White Lie.'

They will begin production of that as soon as the run of 'A Little Black Lie' is over so  shooting begins in August.

Osbourne says participating in the DC Black Theatre and Arts Festival was a very good experience for the company.

“It was the first time with some new cast members so it was nice to really jump in. It was personally my first festival experience so it was very fast and furious.”

Crossfield says it was good to see the team going out there as a unit “and travelling together and just really seeing my partners step up into their roles and like, man, this is all on us, from the funding and everything like that and going after funding but we really have to put our stuff together in order to make it work.”

Both actors are promising a lot of drama, laughter and love at 'A Little Black Lie' and a “faith-and-hope dream realized.”

[This story has been published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, July 18-24, 2019.]

Jamaican-Canadian MPP Holds 'People's Picnic' to Celebrate Canada Day

By Neil Armstrong

Photo credit: Eddie Grant   MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood, Mitzie , the midst of some of the people who attended the 'people's picnic' organized by her at Queen's Park

Despite Premier Doug Ford’s cancellation of the annual Canada Day celebration at Queen’s Park, there was an event held on the front lawn of the Ontario legislature to mark the occasion of the country’s 152nd birthday.

Jamaican-Canadian Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Scarborough-Guildwood, Mitzie Hunter, says about 1000 people attended what she organized and dubbed the “people’s picnic” on July 1.

“Today is Canada’s birthday and nobody says no to Canada Day. We have to open Queen’s Park and invite people down to celebrate the birthday and the founding of our province and our country,” says the Ontario Liberal Party politician while speaking with the Gleaner at the event.

She says the event which started at 11:00 a.m. and ended at 3:00 p.m. attracted hundreds of people, “mostly families, some who have been coming as traditions with their children and now they’re parents and it’s just a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of this nation.”

Instead of hosting the Canada Day celebration, the Ontario government decided to cut costs by offering free admission to 10 attractions across the province.

Free Canada Day admission was offered to the first 500 people at Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Ontario Museum as well as a number of others across the province.

According to government officials the plan to offer free admission was cheaper than it would have cost to run the traditional Canada Day party at Queen's Park.

Hunter said they started off with a land acknowledgement and the explanation of the Indigenous Peoples who have been steward of this land for thousands of years and “to all of us who are now stewards and the importance and the significance of this province and this country.”

“People have come from all backgrounds recognizing that Canada has been good to all of us and it’s about giving back to our nation, being proud of the freedoms that we benefit from here in our province.”

Hunter said her family immigrated to Canada from Jamaica and through hard work her parents worked to make a life for their family.

“My brother and I, our job was to go to school, so we benefitted from a great public education system and eventually I became the education minister. That’s the kind of province and country we live in and we deserve to honour and celebrate our province, celebrate our country.”

She said when the premier cancelled the Canada Day celebration she thought “no, let’s bring it back, let’s have an old fashioned picnic and invite everyone down to enjoy their parliament building here in Ontario.”

Hunter noted that people travelled from Windsor, Barrie, Hamilton, Scarborough, Markham, Mississauga, Brampton, all over Toronto, and there was even a family from Queen’s Park in Scotland. 

“This has been a joyous day, one person said to me her feeling about today is gratitude and her experience has been joy and that really explains how people felt about being here at Queen’s Park today for Canada Day.”

Canada Day celebrations were held in the nation’s capital, Ottawa, and in cities throughout the country in different forms – some with speeches from politicians, performances, barbecues and fireworks. 

Under the Liberal government led by former premier Kathleen Wynne, Hunter served as Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Minister of Education, Minister Without Portfolio, and Associate Minister of Finance (Ontario Retirement Pension Plan).

In the June 2018 Ontario general election, the Ontario Liberal Party was defeated by the Progressive Conservative Party led by Doug Ford and was reduced to seven  MPPs which is below the number of seats required for official party status in the Ontario legislature. The required number is eight.

As the former CEO of the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance, Hunter worked to solve some tough social, economic, and environmental challenges. 

Previous to this, she was the Chief Administrative Officer (COA) of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, Vice-President with Goodwill Industries, and a Regional Director at Bell Canada.

Hunter grew up in Scarborough, graduated from the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus with a BA, and completed her MBA from the Rotman School of Management.

Meanwhile, the main federal party leaders were out and about in what some speculate were campaign-style stops as Canada’s general election approaches on October 21.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a Canada Day celebration in Ottawa’s Riverside South before going to the major festivities on Parliament Hill. 

“This year, we have a lot to celebrate. In the last four years, Canadians have created more than a million new jobs. The unemployment rate is at its lowest since the 1970s. And across the country, 825,000 Canadians have been lifted out of poverty. There’s never been more opportunity, or more progress to share in. And that’s thanks to Canadians, like you,” said Trudeau in his Canada Day statement.

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer was in Medutic, New Brunswick, then at Toronto Ribfest in Etobicoke before heading to Kelowna, British Columbia.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh spent the day in his riding of Burnaby South, British Columbia.

[This story was published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, July 11-17, 2019.]

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

New Production Company Presents Basil Dawkins' 'Snowball from Hell'

A Review
By Neil Armstrong

Photo credit: Eddie Grant    John Phillips as lawyer, Mr. McDermott, and Judy "Pye" Cox as Joycie in the Basil Dawkins play "Snowball from Hell" being presented by 365 Productions in the Greater Toronto Area

In just six months after it was founded, 365 Productions, a Jamaican-Canadian community theatre company, is staging the play “Snowball from Hell” written by Basil Dawkins as its introduction to theatre lovers in the Greater Toronto Area.

Anyone familiar with the prolific playwright’s works knows that laughter plays a major role.

In an interview with Dawkins, Michael Reckord, in a story published in the Gleaner on February 21, 2014 notes that: “He finds the responses of foreign audiences and local ones similar, and "to a large degree, 'mi come yah fe laugh, me nuh come yah fe tink' is the prevailing ethos. They come to be entertained, and entertaining means engagement with story but, most important, generous servings of comedy throughout are desired. By and large, you better make them laugh, locally or away."

Reckord writes that though the play must evoke laughter, it does not have to be an out-and-out comedy to be successful. What audiences seek is "relatability." Dawkins explained: "They want to see their own people, hear their own stories told in the way they would tell it, but done more artfully. They want to be proud of their Jamaican roots."

Under the direction of veteran Douglas Prout the actors Judy “Pye” Cox (as Joycie, Evadney’s mother), John Phillips (as lawyer Mr. McDermott) Christopher M. Hutchinson (as criminal Rupert), Alma James (as Mr. McDermott’s secretary Ms. Wilson) and Theresa “Pinky” Baker (as Evadney) embody their characters and give us a sense of the predicament of their lives. Much of the movement on stage happens indoors between the office of Mr. McDermott and Ms. Wilson, and the home of Joycie, Evadney and soon-to-move-in Rupert. Oraldeen Brown alternates with James in the role of Ms. Wilson.

“Snowball from Hell” tells the gut-wrenching tale of Evadney, a promising Jamaican teenager from the inner city of Kingston who, through her mother’s great sacrifice, attends one of the better “uptown” high schools. Weeks before sitting her final exams she falls ill at school and it is discovered that she is pregnant. This sets much of the narrative of the play in motion and explores how Evadney, her new child, mother, and those brought into her life as a result of circumstances connive, survive and thrive. Who is accountable to whom and what are the implications of one’s actions?

While there were strong theatrical skills from all the actors, some were more relatable and believable than others. The exaggerated distress of Joycie and anger of Evadney were unbearably amplified by the high volume of the sound which made moments of empathy and tenderness seem forced. Evadney’s revelation of what led to her pregnancy required a more sympathetic mother, and a teenager can be angry without yelling at others most of the times.

The Joycie-Ms. Wilson alliance provides an insight into the bond that both women would form to protect Evadney although they are so different in the paths they have chosen in life.

Photo credit: Eddie Grant   Lawyer, Mr. McDermott, played by John Phillips is confronted by Evadney (Theresa "Pinky" Baker in the Basil Dawkins play "Snowball from Hell"

Working out the lighting and sound technicalities and editing the play which was long on opening night should make for a more pleasurable experience in the upcoming shows on July 12 in Brampton and on July 13 in Scarborough. By then the jitters of the first show and all the kinks associated with the opening night would have been ironed out.

The spontaneity of members of the audience in their response to dramatic moments in the play is an indication that this new production house made a good choice in mounting Dawkins’ play.

365 Productions was founded by Robert Gordon and Kameka Morrison to “promote the art of storytelling through theatre arts and to use this platform as a medium to bring communities together.”

Congratulations to them, the actors and the creative team. Check out this weekend’s shows at the Speranza Banquet Hall, 510 Deerhurst Road in Brampton on July 12, and at the St. Clement of Ohrid Banquet Hall, 76 Overlea Boulevard on July 13. Both shows start at 8:00 p.m.

CaribbeanTales International Film Festival Offers an Array of Stories

By Neil Armstrong

Photo credit: Eddie Grant     Diana Webley, Co-Director of CaribbeanTales International Film Festival, with the program guide for the September 4-20 festival

The 14th annual CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (CTFF) will showcase a wide range of films from September 4 -20 at the Royal Cinema and Imagine Cinemas Carlton in Toronto.

Using the theme ‘A New Day,’ Frances-Anne Solomon, CEO of CaribbeanTales says, “It is a brand new day for Caribbean film, a day where filmmakers are able to stand up with pride and hope, eyes and hearts ever upward. Our voices are being heard and the depth of our stories, our legends, our unique perspective on the world, is even more poignant and relevant. We’re here to raise up our Caribbean filmmakers and to shine a light on their importance, but most of all, to share their stories with the world.”

The festival has themed nights featuring films about the environment on September 13, music on September 14, LGBT on September 19, Haiti on September 13, Trinidad on September 14 and Jamaica on September 18.

The opening night on September 4 will showcase the feature film, “Rattlesnakes,” directed by Julius Amedume. It tells the story of Robert McQueen who has a wonderful family and makes a decent living.

“However, underneath the perfect husband act, he lives a double life and often has affairs with other married women. When one of their husbands finds out his identity, Robert finds himself abducted and tortured for his adulterous affairs.”

The short film that will be shown that night is “Oseyi and the Masqueraders” directed by Alwin Bully of Dominica. “A young boy comes of age when he conquers his fear of the carnival costumes of his village, and learns two family secrets.”

One of the three films being featured on Jamaica Night is “Rockstone and Fire” directed by Dr. Courtney C. Coke, the medical director of Radiation Oncology at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, IL. USA.

He spent his formative years on a citrus and sugarcane farm in Pennants, Clarendon in Jamaica where he was raised by his grandparents. Dr. Coke also has a home in Potsdam, St. Elizabeth and is deeply entrenched in the community.

“Rockstone and Fire” is a short film which is a “tribute to the century old Spanish-wall structures that dot Jamaica’s rural landscape in St. Elizabeth. The buildings hold memory, cultural connections and significance for the place and the people.”

The other films that night are “Children of the Incursion” directed by Ina Sotirova and “Last Street” directed by Amanda Sans Pantling.
“Children of the Incursion” is a “poetic journey through memories, realities and universal truths as seen through he eyes of inner-city youth that attempts to understand the rampant and increasing violence in Jamaica.”

An excerpt of the synopsis of “Last Street” notes that, “After the controversial extradition to the U.S of the famous druglord Christopher “Dudus” Coke, chaos reigns in his former areas of control in West Kingston, Jamaica. Bands of teenagers kill each other for any little reason. Although violence in Jamaica is always portrayed as drug related, this film unveils a real truth which links a culture of violence to masculinity and shooting guns.”

The media launch on July 4 featured Idris Elba’s directorial debut, “Yardie.”
It is a heartfelt story about love, revenge, and the meeting of cultures, adapted from the novel by the Jamaican author, Victor Headley.

Set in ’70s Kingston and ’80s Hackney, “Yardie” centres on the life of a young Jamaican man named D (Aml Ameen), who has never fully recovered from the murder, committed during his childhood, of his older brother Jerry Dread (Everaldo Creary).

D grows up under the wing of a Kingston Don and music producer named King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd). Fox dispatches him to London, where he reconnects with his childhood sweetheart, Yvonne (Shantol Jackson), and his daughter whom he has not seen since she was a baby. He also hooks up with a soundclash crew, called High Noon. But before he can be convinced to abandon his life of crime and follow “the righteous path,” he encounters the man who shot his brother ten years earlier. Thus, he embarks on a bloody, explosive quest for retribution — a quest
which brings him into conflict with vicious London gangster Rico (Stephen Graham).

Among the films to be featured on LGBT Night is “Judgment Day” directed by Francesca Hawkins of Trinidad & Tobago.

“In 2017, Jason Jones, a human rights activist, filed an historic constitutional motion against the state, challenging colonial-era anti-homosexual laws in Trinidad and Tobago. The case opens up deep divisions between civil rights activists and politically powerful religious groups,” notes the synopsis.

The feature presentation is “Rafiki” directed by Wanuri Kahiu of Kenya which is a love story between two young women (played by newcomers Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva) in a country where homosexuality is still illegal.

“Rafiki” is saturated with joy, heartbreak, and a richly effervescent cinematography that showcases director Wanuri Kahiu’s native Nairobi in all its vibrancy.

The 10th anniversary of the CaribbeanTales Incubator (CTI) will be facilitated alongside the festival.
In August, there will be CTFF community screenings at Island Soul at the Harbourfront Centre (Aug. 4); Eglinton BIA at the Maria Shchuka Library (Aug. 9); and Under the Stars: Movies in the Park in Regent Park (Aug. 14).

Visit for a complete schedule of the films.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Some 2019 Summer Festivals and Events in the Greater Toronto Area

By Neil Armstrong

Afrofest takes place at Woodbine Park on July 6 & 7

Saturday, July 6, noon-11pm & Sunday, July 7, noon-8pm
Afrofest presented by Music Africa of Canada – North America’s largest African music festival, the 31st edition.
Woodbine Park, 1695 Queen Street East, Toronto

Saturday, July 6 & Sunday, July 7
Salsa on St. Clair Street Festival – A free Latin street festival
St. Clair Avenue West in Toronto

Tuesday, July 9, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Toronto Caribbean Carnival – Official Launch
Nathan Phillips Square
[Official Opening Church Service, July 7; Jr. Carnival King & Queen Showcase, July 14; Jr. Carnival Parade & Family Day, July 20; Beyond the Mas – A Celebration of Freedom, July 26; Calypso Extravaganza Show, July 28; Emancipation Day Lighting of the CN Tower, Aug. 1; King & Queen Showcase, Aug. 1; Ontario Plan Alive Show Competition, Aug, 2; Grande Parade, Aug. 3; Closing Service, Aug. 11.]

Friday, July 12 – Sunday, July 14
Carabram – Brampton’s multicultural festival. July 12, 6pm-midnight, July 13, 1pm-midnight, July 14, 1pm-7pm

Friday, Aug. 2 – Monday, Aug. 5
Island Soul – a celebration of Caribbean Culture – Caribbean festival at the Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto. Reggae artist, Etana, performs on Aug. 3, 9:30-11:00 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 4, noon-11:00 p.m.
Blockobana 2019 presented by Blackness Yes! & Blockorama in the park in Regent Park, 620 Dundas St. East, Toronto. Featuring Blackcat, Carma, Pleasure, TKBA, Nik Red, Prestige, Craig Dominic, and more.

Sunday, Aug. 4, noon-7:00 p.m.
Toronto Rum Festival: Taste the Spirit of the Islands; Ontario Place (West Island). Rum Village early pass (with tokens) $30. A 19+ event.

Sunday, Aug. 4 & Monday 5
JAMBANA One World Festival
Garden Square, 12 Main St. North, Downtown Brampton, 1:00-9:00 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4. Featuring Nana Mclean, Sattalites, Steele, Blessed, Chelsea Stewart, Kafinal, Warrior Love, Dance Caribe, Joshua Lucas, Soul to Soul. Free admission
Monday, Aug. 5 -- Featuring Koffee, Exco Levi & High Priest, Fujahtive performing at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, 410 Sherbourne St., Toronto. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Show starts at 8:00 p.m. Advance tickets: $40

Friday, Aug. 9 – Sunday, Aug. 11
Grace Jerkfest – Centennial Park, Base of Ski Hills, Etobicoke. Gates open: Friday, 5:00-10:00 p.m., Saturday & Sunday, 11:00 a.m-10:00 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 16, 1:00-9:00 p.m.
3rd Annual Canadian Reggae Music Conference
Founders College, York University

Saturday, August 17, 1:00-11:00 p.m.
Rastafest Reggae Festival in recognition of Marcus Garvey’s birthday presented by Masani Productions featuring the Mighty Diamonds and Johnny Clarke.
Black Creek Pioneer Village, North Property, 7060 Jane Street (northwest corner of Jane St. & Steeles Ave. West)
Tickets: Children under 12: Free, Online: $20, At the Gate: $30

 Friday, Aug. 16-Sunday, Aug. 18
Jamaica Summer Games and Wellness Festival, a blend of music, sport, entertainment and culture at Ashbridges Bay, Toronto.

Friday, Aug. 16-Sunday, Aug. 18
Spoken Soul Fest, an arts and culture festival rooted in drawing from the Black Experience and its contribution to the arts in Canada and beyond; 918 Bathurst Street, Toronto.

Wednesday, August 21, 7:30-10:00 p.m.
Jay Douglas & Ken Boothe at the CNE
CNE Bandshell, Exhibition Place

Saturday, Aug. 24 & Sunday, Aug. 25
Afro-Caribbean Festival at Albert Campbell Square, 150 Borough Drive, Scarborough.

Wednesday, August 28, 7:30-10:00 p.m.
Ossie Gurley and The Truth & David Rudder and The Contraband
CNE Bandshell

Friday, Aug. 30-Sept. 2
One Love Festival, A Labour Day weekend event at Downsview Park, 70 Canuck Ave., North York 

September 4-20
CaribbeanTales International Film Festival, the 14th edition