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PROFILES ON BLACK CANADIANS

Profiles

Dawit Tibebu is an Ethiopian photojournalist in Toronto who has been practicing photography for almost a decade. In an exhibit that runs from October 8, 2020 to November 1, 2020, Dawit presents a series of photos entitled Freedom "Fighters: Ethiopia" at the Black Artists’ Network in Dialogue (BAND) Gallery in Toronto. The exhibition is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada.

Tropicana Community Services is now in its 40th year of serving the Black community in the Greater Toronto Region in multiple ways. However, with the emergence of Covid19, Tropicana has had to not only rethink how it celebrates this milestone but figure out new ways to continue its programming during the lockdown. Despite all the challenges that have come with this, the organization seems to have emerged even stronger and better. I spoke with Raymund Guiste, Tropicana’s executive director.

“Art is the physical representation of feeling.” Jaylah Hall Possessing wisdom beyond her years, wunderkind Jaylah Hall knew from the age of 12 who she was, and what she wanted to be. Preadolescence isn’t usually a time when most people can boast enough of self-awareness to know that their uniqueness isn’t a handicap; especially when you’re Black.

(Photo by: Marie-Anne Letarte) In Canada, we pay a lot of lip service to our brand of multicultural mosaic, usually without an understanding that the mosaic extends beyond just language or skin colour. It’s the “culture” within that “cultural mosaic” that causes the most trouble between different camps in society, (particularly when a certain camp considers themselves the native culture to which all others must assimilate). Manuel Mathieu asks the viewer to consider that our worlds are interconnected in ways that they may have never considered.

Bio Photo: Courtesy Sarah Martin Nathan Eugene Carson is a multifaceted, multidisciplinary artist, whose trajectory has been less dictated by the hierarchical confines of what an artist is supposed to do, and more guided by an intuitive understanding of what an artist is supposed to be. Carson brings the same freedom of thought and expression encouraged by his creative familial upbringing into his first major solo exhibition at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.

Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, cannabis has been considered an essential service that continues to pull in money at a time when many businesses are just trying to stay afloat. As an industry, it was lucrative before it was even legal; an alternate marketplace for poor and working-class entrepreneurs. Thanks to the heavy-handed reaction of racially biased law enforcement, a disproportionate amount of those underground businesses swept up in police raids and street checks were Black and Indigenous.

In December 2016, Dafonte Miller was assaulted by off-duty police officer Michael Theriault, and his civilian brother Christian. The altercation occurred over an alleged car break-in attempt. During the altercation, Miller was attacked with a metre-long metal pipe which led to him losing an eye. The Theriaults were charged with aggravated assault and attempted obstruction of justice. In June 2020, Constable Theriault was convicted of the lesser charge of assault, while his brother was acquitted.

Anti-Black racism has permeated all spheres of Canadian society from police and civilian relationships, education, health care, housing, jobs, to getting loans from the bank. Black Physicians of Canada is working towards addressing anti-Black racism not only within the medical profession (both trainees and physicians), but also towards Black patients. Their advocacy work plans to focus on increasing Black representation in medicine and in scientific research. I spoke with Dr. Antonia Sappong about her own journey to becoming a doctor and facing anti-Blackness.

Coming across a tattoo parlour that celebrates and prioritizes darker skin complexions is somewhat of a rarity within the tattoo community.

(PHOTO: Joe Sherlock, owner of Celebrity Vegetarian Restaurant) A construction site with seemingly limitless orange cones, detour signs, cranes and large pulsating machinery has now become part of the cityscape along a good chunk of Eglinton Avenue in Toronto. The development of the Crosstown LRT has turned the historic area known as Little Jamaica (which runs from Allen road, west to Keele Street along Eglinton Avenue) into a virtual shuttle run for cars and an obstacle course for pedestrians.

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