BLACK HISTORY MONTH WEEKLY RECAP
As we come to the end of Black History Month, we wanted to provide you 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 look back at all our recaps from previous weeks.
In our final week, we are suggesting Black-owned businesses in Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa which are beloved by our team members
Vancouver Restaurant: Juke Fried Chicken
A newer spot serving up classic fried chicken sandwiches and other favourites in Chinatown. If you find yourself at Keefer Bar, you can get your late night eats delivered straight from Juke Chicken to your table.
Ottawa Restaurant: Spice & Dough
A cross Canadian-Jamaican childhood made owner, Jordan, fall in love with Jamaican cuisine. From curry goat to jerk chicken, to oxtail, and of course Jamaican patties, Jordan became inspired by the Caribbean flavours and now wishes to share them with the Ottawa community. After pursuing a career in justice, he decided to follow his true passion and pursue an education in culinary arts. He has trained in many different kitchens around Ottawa, including Amuse, Two Six Ate and Social. Tapping into the private chef world, Jordan shared his Jamaican patties with clients where the demand continuously grew. After seeing the rising demand, Jordan decided to start up Spice & Dough Co. in 2021.
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Montreal: Terrence Trouillot from Bon Appétit
Terrence Trouillot from Bon Appétit drove up from New York City a few years back with the goal of eating well and plentifully. He accomplished this with ease at several Haitian eateries. Below is a synopsis of his deeper dive into the Haitian Food scene in Montreal. Both of Terrence’s parents are Haitian. Here are the places he reviewed in the east end of the city, where you will find the largest Haitian community in Montreal.
“Growing up in a Haitian household myself, Haitian food is by and large my go-to comfort food. My childhood was all about cooking and eating with my family, which meant consuming a healthy dose of bannann peze (plantains that are pressed and double-fried with a touch of lime and salt), rice and beans, stewed or fried meats, and a ridiculous (even dangerous) amount of Scotch bonnet peppers. In other words, I know a good griot when I see it. Recently, I spent a weekend in the French Canadian city, scouring the streets (and my Google maps) to find some of the most creative, inspiring, and noteworthy options of Haitian cookery in town. From local favorites like Méli-Mélo market, which has some of the best pork in the city, to hole-in-the-wall joints like Merson’s Patisserie, which offers up what may be the best Haitian beef patties I’ve ever tasted, here is just a modest sampling of where to eat Haitian food in Montreal.
Montreal’s Haitian community is a thriving population that grew significantly in the 1960s and 1970s, when many of Haiti’s elite (doctors, teachers, etc.) fled to the French-speaking city to escape François Duvalier’s infamous dictatorship. Today the Haitian population in the greater Montreal area rivals that of NYC and Miami. As a result, Haitian culture, and by extension food, has had a strong foothold in Montreal’s cultural identity.”
Méli-Mélo, which means hodgepodge, was first on everyone’s list when I asked my local friends about their favorite places. Located on Jarry Street in Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension (or Saint-Michel for short), this half food market, half take-out spot is home to some of the best Haitian food in the city. Opened in 1984 as a small grocery with select produce from Africa, South America, and the Caribbean, Méli-Mélo expanded as a casse-croûte—Québécois for snack bar or take-out spot—in 1989, offering up traditional Haitian dishes like lalo (beef and vegetable casserole made with jute leaves), lambi (conch), and poulet créole (stewed spicy chicken).
If you’re in the mood for a homestyle meal, Casse-Croûte Sissi & Paul is definitely the place to go. Located in Saint-Michel, a predominantly Haitian neighborhood, this cozy little mom-and-pop shop is modest in its decor, with a number of Haitian paintings hanging on the walls, white tablecloths, and an assortment of throw pillows that cushion the banquets in the dining room. There’s also a TV in the corner of the main room playing Radio Telé Zenith nonstop, a channel broadcasting Haitian and Caribbean music, which keeps the mood lively. The service is exceptionally warm and friendly, as are the clientele—a mix of regulars and folks from the neighborhood.
Probably the only other restaurant that can rival Agrikol (now closed) in terms of ambiance (and decibel levels—there’s a DJ booth at the front of the restaurant) is Kwizinn Resto-Bar Créole, which opened in 2017 on the Saint-Hubert Plaza in Montreal’s Little Italy, and an additional location in Verdun. Along with his wife, Claudia Fiorilli, who runs the front-of-house, chef-owner Michael Lafaille offers an eclectic menu with great loads of creative dishes and a killer cocktail list.
One of the more coveted food items in our household growing up was the pâté Haïtien or Haitian patty puff pastry meat pie famous for its crunchy crust and spicy fillings. It’s closest (and much more ubiquitous) cousin is probably the Jamaican patty, which is similar and delicious in it’s own right, but different in a few key ways: Jaimacan patties are often bigger and the dough is colored with curry powder, giving it that recognizable yellow hue. Haitian patties aren’t hard to come by per se, but a truly exceptional one with a perfect laminated flaky crust and generously seasoned, well-portioned filling is, at least in my experience, pretty hard to find. Merson’s Patisserie in Saint-Michel may have the best Haitian patties I’ve ever tasted. The place is somewhat unassuming—a tiny storefront with a display case holding two lonesome birthday cakes —but do not let that deter you
We also shared some recommendations 2 books and and an author that made a significant impact on each of us.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an incredible writer and speaker who concisely represents the intersectionality of race, gender, and navigating identity in America. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at a UBC Connects event in 2018 and genuinely believe that she is required reading for a better understanding of intersectionality.
Author: Dany Laferriere (Qc)
Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Dany Laferrière is a black author who won the Prix des libraires du Québec in 2010 for L’énigme du retour. Laferrière became one of the main representatives of a new generation of writers in the Quebec literary landscape. He was elected and became a member of the Académie Française, becoming the first author from Canada (and more specifically from Quebec) and Haiti to sit there.
Very vocal on diversity issues, his point of view on the question is as follows: “Quebec literature will only be great when it sees that it is the otherness that drives it forward. It will only be great when in the book fairs, I feel that I am being invited not to fill quotas for subsidies, but because there is a real reflection on the black condition. It is literature that allows and will allow, Quebecers to see that the other is not a stranger. »
Book: Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
A fantastic story for Young Readers, Elijah of Buxton is a story of a young boy from Buxton, Ontario, born into freedom. The story follows Elijah as he has to help his friend, Mr. Leroy, get back stolen money, which was meant to buy his family’s freedom from the South. Elijah embarks on an adventure, a mission, to find the thief, recover the money and help free Mr. Leroy’s family. Written by Christopher Paul Curtis, this award-winning book is funny, eye opening and shows the terrifying institution of slavery from a unique perspective. I really loved this book and was happy to find a Canadian story on the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery, that could be shared with kids and adults alike.
We shared the remarkable, too often overlooked story of Kayla Grey
Growing up in Scarborough, Kayla Grey always dreamed of working with television personalities from an off-camera perspective, as she rarely saw Black women in on-camera positions. It took her a while to realize that she had the tools necessary to become the face young Black girls needed to see on TV. After graduating from Toronto’s College of Sports Media, Grey joined Global News as a Digital Broadcast Journalist in Winnipeg, where she faced adversity from within her organization. Her first-ever program Director at Global told her, “Kayla, someone who looks like you should be lucky that you even have a job.” She didn’t let that Director stop her path forward and continued making a name for herself as a senior news reporter in Prince Rupert, BC.
In 2015, Kayla made her on-air debut on TSN as a Radio anchor and producer for TSN 1050. While moderating a roundtable on the Raptors, Kayla caught the ear of Sportscentre anchor Jay Onrait who knew she was destined for greatness immediately upon meeting her. This was the step she needed to become a mainstay on our television screens. Grey broke barriers in 2018 as the first black woman to ever host a flagship sports highlight show in Canada after co-anchoring Sportscentre with Onrait.
As a TV anchor and reporter, Grey has shown herself to be unafraid and unapologetic when speaking on topics and issues that other reporters have shied away from. Whether it be the handling of sexual assault allegations in the NHL or the stances on social justice issues across the major sports, she has spoken truth to power and built her brand on realness. Her reporting approach gained her not only the respect and admiration of peers and athletes, but also a staunch following across the country.
In 2021, Grey became the host and co-executive producer of The Shift with Kayla Grey, which is an intersection of sports, life, and culture. She discusses the biggest topics in the sports world with features, discussions and interviews. Keep on an eye on Kayla Grey as her star will only shine brighter to lead the way for many more women of colour in the sports world.
And, finally we wrap up by providing three outstanding charities doing essential work for Black communities in our Canadian cities.
This Vancouver-based organization is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Vancouver and B.C.’s Black history.
A Toronto-based organization that showcases and promotes arts from across the Afro-Diaspora.
Sayasporais a platform for young African women worldwide.
As an African women-led and bilingual organization founded in 2015 in Montréal, they strongly believe in the power of representation as a tool for social change and inspiration.
While Black History Month is only one month long, we encourage you to carry some of these learnings and resources with you throughout the year and continue on a path of research and reflection.