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    PROFILES ON BLACK CANADIANS

    Profiles

    When COVID19 hit, many of us developed our own pandemic distractions to stay sane, whether it be baking, crafting or renovating our spaces. But for one Toronto woman, an act of pandemic self-care turned into a booming business. “Last year was particularly hard for most people,” says Sagal Ali. “I made candles to take my mind off things and share something with everyone.” 

    Transit, the word modern urban centres like Toronto use to describe our public transportation, is a short form cousin to the word, transition.

    “There's so much room for Black ownership in the Cannabis industry and it's only right that we take advantage of an industry that we helped build,” says Josh Creighton, one of the co-owners of Fumes Rolling Papers & Accessories.

    “I haven’t abandoned who I am, and I try to put my beliefs into practice to advance the community,” says Robert Small, a writer, illustrator, entrepreneur, and the founder of LEGACY Enterprises.

    It’s painfully apparent that the pandemic has had a disproportionately negative impact on the Black community. According to Statistics Canada, Ontarians living in neighbourhoods with higher concentrations of racialized people were three times more likely to get COVID-19, four times more likely to be hospitalized by it, and twice as likely to die from the disease. During the peak of the first wave of the pandemic, Black people accounted for 21 percent of reported COVID-19 cases in Toronto, despite only making up 9 percent of the population. 

    “I am excited to launch my campaign to be the Ontario Liberal candidate in Scarborough—Southwest. As a small-business owner, mother, wife, social worker and lawyer, I am ready to utilize my experiences to serve and improve our community.”

    “I want my customers to feel empowered and loved. I want them to feel the strength and beauty they have within them,” says Renee Alexzandria.

    You might know Denham Jolly as the pioneer who fought for and founded FLOW 93.5, Canada’s first Black-owned radio station or as the author of the 2017 Toronto Book Award-winning memoir, In the Black: My Life.

    “I am a young man trying to find my way, navigate this world, and leave a legacy. I'm trying to leave my mark, which happens to be my first name, using art, which is the word that forms with the last three letters of my last name. I’m trying to make a mark with my art, and that’s who I am.”

    In the next 10 years, Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) CEO and founder, Lekan Olawoye, believes their donations towards Black businesses and tech professionals will help give a much needed boost to Blacks in tech. “That's really why we are paying it forward, that's why we're donating twenty thousand dollars,” said Olawoye. “Ten thousand Canadian and ten thousand US dollars to ensure that ten years from now, there's more [Black tech professionals].” 

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