BLACK HISTORY MONTH WEEKLY RECAP
As we come to the end of the second week of Black History Month, we wanted to provide you once again with a recap of the amazing stories, places and people highlighted by our Media Experts Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee so far. Be sure to check back next Friday, we’ll be adding a recap every week this month.
This week, we are suggesting three Black-owned businesses in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, which are beloved by our team members.
Toronto: Lawrence Kerr is a GTA photographer who creates memories for families, couple or individuals. Lawrence has the unique ability create fun and unique pictures, casual family photos or professional headshots for every need or occasion. Reach out to Lawrence and get a picture perfect day.
Vancouver: Stoxx Vintage is a family run spot in Mount Pleasant with a massive collection of Levis, Carhart, leather, sports paraphernalia, band tees, and hidden gems aplenty. The spot opened right alongside the pandemic and they have been working hard to stay in the game. Check out their instagram @stoxxvintage for all your thrifting inspo needs. Kingsgate Mall, 370 E Broadway Unit 118.
Montreal: SPAR Training‘s owner, Kevin Selman, is all about helping people become better versions of themselves. When you walk into his gym, the following quote greets you: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us”. He and his team have made SPAR training a place where clients can confront this head on.
Kevin is constantly investing in new equipment, new approaches to fitness and health, and of course in his team and his clients. He is highly involved in the community. He promotes local, supports everyone equally and is always trying to inspire the people he meets to be better and do better in his world. 845e Tecumseh St, Pointe-Claire
We also shared some recommendations for a book, podcast and movie that have each made a significant impact.
Book: The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones
The 1619 Project: This is a great book by Nikole Hannah-Jones (Pulitzer Prize winning creator of the 1619 Project), which sheds light on, and reframes the history of the US from a perspective that is not often covered. This books discusses how the America, since the first slave ship arrived in Virginia in August of 1619, has created and maintained a system based on caste and race to ensure a group of people were limited in their ability to rise and take part in the American. And how this system still persists even to this day. The legacy of slavery has affected all areas of public and private life for Black Americans. From music to politics, and citizenship to diet, the 1619 project, through a series of excellently research essays, poetry and fiction, presents how Black Americans have been systemically limited by this legacy of oppression. It is an excellent read, which will give you insights that you may not have known about how Africans were brought to North America and how the systems put in place by the governments at the time and currently, were directly enacted to limit upward mobility and success of an entire race of people.
Podcast: Higher Learning
Higher Learning is a Ringer podcast featuring hosts Rachel Lindsay (former lawyer and the 1st Black Bachelorette) & Van Lathan (reporter) discussing the biggest topics in Black culture, politics, entertainment and sports. They approach each topic with the perfect mix of humour and intelligence. You can find it across all platforms that stream podcasts. They have a video podcast available on Spotify.
Movie: Harriet (Netflix)
Unsurprisingly, as we all know the story, this is a predictable biography on Harriet Tubman. However – Cynthia Erivo playing Tubman gives a great performance with a stunning singing voice. There are also plenty of unexpected nuggets throughout about her accomplishments which I won’t give away here. To put it simply, Harriet Tubman was a badass woman.
We shared the fascinating story of Eleanor Collins, Canada’s First Lady of Jazz.
Widely referred to as the Canadian First Lady of Jazz, Eleanor Collins is a jack of all trades, having been a host, musician, singer, and entertainer. She was born in Edmonton in 1919 to parents who answered the call to immigrate to the Prairies. Her musical gifts started to manifest at an early age, spurred on by her family tradition of singing and playing classic Gospel music together. Honing her singing talents at church, she was winning talent competitions by the age of 15.
In the late 1930s, Eleanor decided to move to Vancouver where she got married and started a family. Her desire to perform never left, so in 1940 she began working at CBC Radio singing in a gospel quartet with her sister and two friends. She got her first break in 1945 when she became the lead vocalist of a quintet that was featured on an international CBC Radio Jazz series named Serenade in Rhythm. This series was a hit, and was broadcast to Canadian troops serving overseas in Europe.
Her multi-faceted skillset had made Eleanor into a much sought-after entertainer. Following Serenade the Rhythm, she went on to achieve many firsts. She starred in CBC’s TV Show Bamboula: A Day in the West Indies, which was the first Canadian TV show with a mixed-race cast and the first live musical variety series created in Vancouver. She followed that up by becoming the first Black woman in North America to host her own television variety show with CBC’s The Eleanor Show. She remained a staple on CTV and CBC TV and Radio programs throughout the 60s and 70s. Throughout her career, she has also performed at Canada Day celebrations, Jazz festivals, concert stages, and clubs across the country. Her success and widespread visibility inspired so many Black youths to believe they too could live their dreams as performers in a white-dominated industry.
At 102 years young, Eleanor Collins resides in Surrey BC and is still living life with the same zest and determination that made her a legend.
Just A Few of Eleanor Collins’ Achievements:
- Member of the Order of Canada
- Member of BC Entertainment Hall of Fame
- Recipient of numerous lifetime achievement awards
- Black Women in Jazz Award
- The Toronto Black Diversity Network Black Canadian Award
- Canada Post released a commemorative stamp in her honour in January 2022
It wouldn’t be Black history month without acknowledging and celebrating the contributions Black musicians and artists have had on the music that we know and love today. If it weren’t for them, entire genres of music would cease to exist.
According to studies, Black gospel and blues are the roots of practically all American-made music genres. The blues is a versatile genre that combines early black spirituals, plantation ballads, and folk music, which created the framework for genres today including Jazz, country, soul, rock, r&b and Hip hop.
The DEI Committee has curated a special Black History Playlist that highlights and celebrates the contributions from these artists – allow us to take you on a musical journey.
And, finally, we wrap up by providing three outstanding charities doing essential work for Black communities in our Canadian cities.
Black Boys Code is a non-profit organization with 11 chapters across Canada, and one in the USA (with future expansions to come). Their Mission is to improve the future of Black youth through education in computer science and technology. They are inspiring a generation of Black youth to take control of their future and become tomorrow’s digital creators and technological innovators. They do that by helping them develop digital literacy and computer competence—the foundation of a path towards a career in technology. Their vision is for Black youth to identify the skills and talents they possess so that they can realize their full potential, preparing them for success as tomorrow’s technology leaders and innovators.
Based in Toronto, this organization specifically supports Black womxn and survivors of sexual violence by creating culturally relevant content, educational tools, healing spaces and economic opportunities.
An international feminist, not-for-profit organization providing skills-building, leadership development, empowerment-based mentorships programs, opportunities for BIPOC underserved and underrepresented young womxn and girls (gender inclusive).