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Toronto proclaims February as Black History Month

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Here is the lowdown on what’s happening

31-Jan-2020 – Mayor John Tory will proclaim February as Black History Month in Toronto, recognising the history, heritage and contributions of African-Canadians in the city. Many programs, events and exhibits will be held at City of Toronto historic sites, community centres, libraries and other public spaces throughout the month.  

“We all should know the incredible history of our Black residents and the impact they had in every aspect of our city,” says Mayor John Tory. “I encourage Torontonians of all cultural backgrounds to experience the many programs and events taking place this month, and to learn more about the history of Toronto’s Black residents.”  

Residents are encouraged to participate in the many events that the City has planned, in addition to dozens of community-based programs and events. 

Mackenzie House presents Black History Month programming everyday, February 1 to March 1, from noon to 5 p.m., in which the public can learn about important figures such as the multi-talented abolitionist and journalist Mary Ann Shadd Cary — the first female African American publisher in North America. City staff will be on hand to print souvenir copies of her paper, The Provincial Freeman, in the recreated 1850s print shop. 

Torontonians can celebrate Toronto’s local Black history listening to slam poetry and Jamaican Patois-style storytellers. The Story of Us: Sharing Black Torontonian Stories will be held at Scarborough Museum every Wednesday throughout the month, noon to 4 p.m. A spoken word performance will also take place at the museum on February 22, noon to 4 p.m., that blends narrative, visuals and beats to reach audiences of different ages, backgrounds and beliefs about the realities of Toronto’s first-generation Somali youths. 

Spadina Museum will offer tours every weekend from February 1 to March 1 where residents can learn about Mrs. Pipkin, the laundress, who escaped slavery in 1850s Maryland and later worked for the Austin family in Toronto. 

From February 6 to 8, Toronto will host the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) mobile museum initiative, which celebrates the NHL and Black History Month. This is the second year of the museum touring cities across North America and this year’s museum has been redesigned to offer fans a new experience as they learn about the history of the game. The museum celebrates today’s stars and looks back at the trail blazers who made history. The Black History Month celebration is part of Hockey Is For Everyone, a joint NHL and NHLPA initiative that has celebrated diversity and inclusion in hockey since 1996.  

NHL mobile museumThe NHL mobile museum will be in the following locations, free of charge:  

• February 6, 3 to 8 p.m. 
Harry Gairey arena parking lot, 275 Bathurst St.  

• February 7, 3 to 8 p.m. 
Malvern Community Centre, 30 Sewells Rd., east entrance parking lot  

• February 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  
Sunnydale Acres Rink, 50 Amoro Dr., south parking lot  

More information on the museum can be found at nhl.com/fans/black-hockey-history

The theatre-in-education program at Montgomery’s Inn will feature Singing of the Birds on February 15 and 16 from 4 to 6 p.m. Through this production, the audience will learn about the joys and struggles of two young immigrants who fled the Irish famine and escaped American slavery with the help of Canada’s Underground Railroad. Finding Freedom: The Joshua Glover Story performances, which will take place February 22 and 23 from 6 to 8 p.m., portray Glover’s extraordinary story and his life at Montgomery’s Inn. 

Colborne Lodge will feature a live performance called Girl Power’D on February 16 and 23 from 2 to 3 p.m. With a focus on cultural dance led by community elders, the program will include live drumming, African dancing, and Dunham style technique with the goal of teaching creativity, confidence and self-expression through an understanding of heritage to girls from five to 16 years old who identify as Black.  

Gibson House is offering a spoken word and food experience on February 21 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. where participants will experience an unforgettable evening of rap, spoken word and classical music in the parlours. Visitors can enjoy a catered buffet and watch a live painting demonstration. Tickets must be purchased in advance. 

Residents are invited to explore African-Canadian cooking at Fort York National Historic Site on February 29 from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Food samples from the African Diaspora and historic cooking demonstrations will be part of the event. 

Toronto Public Library celebrates Black History with a collection of programs and special events that honour Black heritage and consider the historical significance and contemporary contributions of Black activists and artists from around the world. More event details are available at tpl.ca/blackhistory

A listing of City-related exhibitions, educational displays, community-based programming and admission fee information is available at toronto.ca/blackhistory/events

The Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, unanimously adopted by City Council, is being implemented by the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism (CABR) Unit to ensure that systemic changes are made to eliminate anti-Black racism in Toronto. More information is available at toronto.ca/abr

To further amplify the City’s dedication to creating a city for all people and confronting and removing barriers caused by anti-Black racism, the City recently launched the latest Toronto For All campaign, focused on the negative impacts anti-Black racism has on the mental health of Black Torontonians. The campaign, which runs until February 23, consists of three versions of posters that can be seen in transit shelters throughout the city and features similar creative on social media. More information about the campaign is available at blackmentalhealthday.ca .

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