YWCA Toronto’s Blog

We are looking for volunteer writers to contribute feminist content to our blog.
Write about issues close to you and your experiences in our city. Learn more.

Celebrating Black Canadians and Black History

YWCA Toronto
YWCA Toronto
March 02, 2023
Categories: Racial Equity 

Each February we celebrate Black History Month, a time when we honour the many achievements and legacies of "Black leaders" who have helped create a more inclusive Canada and made a positive impact in our communities. As Black History Month has come to a close, our opportunity to continue learning does not. We can celebrate the contributions made by Black Canadians all year long!

The Government of Canada has compiled a list of Black leaders highlighting their many impacts. Angela James, a YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Alumni (2012), is listed among many other notable leaders.

Toronto’s Black communities have a long and rich history in Canada – from the early days as a settlement with its inhabitants including women, men, and children who experienced slavery, to Black Loyalists, to African Americans escaping slavery in the United States. The City of Toronto has gathered documentary evidence of the Black experience in the City Archives highlighting the impacts that have been made throughout Toronto’s history.

This year, the City Archives in partnership with the Black Artists' Networks In Dialogue (BAND) Gallery has created an exhibition called Black Women in Leadership which features portraits of 40 Black women leaders. This exhibition is free to visit and celebrates Black women who are committed to creating change in various sectors including arts and culture, business, health and wellness, and activism while paving the way for the next generation of Black women leaders.

Check out the following to continue learning about Black history:

  •  Toronto Public Library (TPL) has a wide variety of books and materials aimed at all ages, including kids, teens and adults! TPL celebrates Black history through out the year with a collection of programs and events that honour Black culture and heritage.
  •  Continue to listen, celebrate and learn from Black artists. Black Canadians have contributed majorly to music history, but throughout history, their contributions have not always been properly documented.
  •  Support Black-owned businesses! The Canadian Black Chamber, presented by Uber, allows you to find Black-owned businesses across Canada.


  • On February 22, we celebrated #YWCATorontoDay, as proclaimed by the City of Toronto to recognize our 150th anniversary and our commitment to creating equity, safety and change in our community. Over the last 150 years, Black Canadians have played an instrumental role in shaping YWCA Toronto’s history. Read about Theodosia and other women from the Caribbean, who found refuge at YWCA Toronto’s Ontario House, in the early 1900s.

    We encourage you to explore the resources mentioned above to learn about Black Canadian history and celebrate the many achievements, locally and globally!