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Black change-makers in Toronto

YWCA Toronto
YWCA Toronto
February 19, 2021
Categories: Racial Equity 

Black History Month is a time to collectively reflect on, and celebrate, the lives and contributions of Black people in all of our communities. As we continue to mark this occasion, we celebrate Black women and gender-diverse people across Toronto making important social change. Our list includes writers, artists, journalists, intellectuals and many others shaping our conversations and culture. Learn more about them and share a few of the names you celebrate this month and all year round!

  • Cheyenne Sundance is changing the landscape of urban agriculture and creating opportunities for other young people to learn the craft of farming. Her farm, Sundance Harvest, runs a free urban agriculture mentorship program called Growing in the Margins which prioritizes the participation of racialized, LGBTQ2S youth and youth with disabilities.

  • Eugenia Addy has a PhD in chemistry and runs a non-profit, Visions of Science, that creates opportunities in STEM for children from communities who tend to face greater educational and income barriers. Eugenia told Toronto Life, “When studying science, I’d think, so no Black people contributed here? As I came to understand more about Black history, I put two and two together and understood we either didn’t have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions, or that we made meaningful contributions that weren’t documented.”

  • Haviah Mighty is a rapper from Toronto who won the Polaris Prize in 2019 for her album 13th Floor. She was the first Black woman to win this prize. Her music speaks to social and political issues and combines many different genres.

  • Itah Sadu is a children’s author who co-owns the Toronto bookstore and cultural centre, A Different Booklist that creates space and opportunity for learning and community-building. Itah told Chatelaine that “Independent bookstores speak to the well-being of society.”

  • Michele Pearson Clarke works in both film and photography. Her work has been featured in several international LGBTQ film festivals. In 2019 she was named Toronto’s Photo Laureate until 2022. Michele told the Art Gallery of Ontario, “I have tried to focus on engaging Torontonians in thinking about the work that photographs do, and the ways in which they influence our relationships to others in the city.”

  • Ravyn Wngz has been working to make change in the city for over ten years. She co-founded Ill Nana/DiverseCity Dance Company that creates space and opportunity for LGBTQ2S people, especially within the Black community. Ravyn is a member of Black Lives Matter Toronto and delivered a powerful speech in 2020 that made a powerful impact.

  • Samantha Peters is a Toronto-based lawyer practicing in Ontario and Alberta. She has joined the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law as the first Black Legal Mentor-in-Residence. Samantha told the University of Ottawa, “The future of law is changing, and I am really looking forward to not only sharing the ways in which I have used my legal training to do justice work, but also thinking through other possibilities with incoming law students.” 

Thank you to everyone on this list and to all the other Black women and gender-diverse people making our city a better place for everyone!