Women in front of YWCA’s Ontario House, 698 Ontario Street ca. 1912 Photographer: William James City of Toronto Archives Fonds 1244, Item 71.22
Women in front of YWCA’s Ontario House, 698 Ontario Street ca. 1912 Photographer: William James City of Toronto Archives Fonds 1244, Item 71.22

Each year in February, the City of Toronto is proud to support events and exhibits scheduled for Black History Month, inviting members of the public to explore and celebrate the heritage, traditions and culture of African-Canadians.

Black History Month began in the United States as “Negro History Week” in February 1926, through the work of African American scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson. His aim was to raise awareness and understanding in the school curriculum of the African experience around the world. The United States began to formally celebrate Black History Month in the 1960s. Through community activities, organizers sought to present a more balanced and accurate picture of Black history.

In the 1950s, community organizations such as the Canadian Negro Women’s Association began to celebrate the importance of the history of the black community in Toronto. In 1979, Toronto became the first municipality in Canada to proclaim Black History Month through efforts of many individuals and organizations such as the Ontario Black History Society. In 1995, Toronto Area MP Jean Augustine introduced a motion which was passed unanimously by the House of Commons to recognize Black History Month across Canada.

Black History Month is an opportunity for the City of Toronto to recognize the past and present contributions that African Canadians make to the life of Toronto in such areas as education, medicine, art, culture, public service, economic development, politics and human rights.

A schedule of events is listed below.

United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent Exhibit

Rotunda
Thursday, January 30 to Thursday, February 7
Weekdays: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Weekends and statutory holidays: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On March 26, 2019, the City of Toronto officially recognized the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD). Throughout February, an IDPAD exhibit will rotate through various City facilities. Stop by to discover what the Decade is about.

Girl Power’D: A Live Performance

Sunday, February 16 and 23, 2 to 3 p.m.

Girl Power’D teaches creativity, confidence and self-expression through an understanding of heritage for girls five to 16 years old who identify as Black. With a focus on cultural dance led by community elders, the program includes live drumming, African dancing, and Dunham style technique. Join us for a free performance celebrating where these talented young performers have come from and be inspired by the creative future they are cultivating for their peers.

Admission: Pay what you can (all funds will go to Girl Power’D)

United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent Exhibit

Foyer
Thursday, January 30 to Thursday, February 7
Weekdays: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.;
Weekends and statutory holidays: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On March 26, 2019, the City of Toronto officially recognized the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD). Throughout February, an IDPAD exhibit will rotate through various City facilities. Stop by to discover what the Decade is about.

Exploring Our Culinary Roots: African-Canadian Foodways Then and Now

Saturday, February 29, 3 to 6:30 p.m.

Explore African-Canadian cooking then and now at historic Fort York. Try a rum punch, and watch a historic cooking demo by Fort York staff and historic cooks. Or head to the Blue Barracks to enjoy a cooking demo and sampling of cuisine from the African Diaspora.

Admission: $40 per person, plus tax. Tickets available at fortyork.streamintickets.com.

Rebel House: A Spoken Word and Food Experience

Friday, February 21, 6:30 to 10 p.m

Join spoken word artist Patrick de Belen and performers from Up From The Roots and BAM! Toronto Youth Poetry Slam for an unforgettable evening of rap, spoken word and classical music in our parlours. Enjoy a catered buffet and watch a live painting demo.

Admission: $50 per person, plus tax. Tickets available at gibsonhousemuseum.streamintickets.com.

Mackenzie House Celebrates Black History Month

February 1 to March 1, (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays), noon to 5 p.m.

For Black History Month, celebrate important figures like the multi-talented abolitionist and journalist, Mary Ann Shadd Cary — the first female African American publisher in North America. Staff will be on hand to print souvenir copies of her paper, The Provincial Freeman, in the recreated 1850s print shop.

Admission: Included with regular admission

The Singing of Birds

Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16, 4 to 6 p.m.

During the theatre-in-education program, learn about the joys and struggles of two young immigrants: Rose, a servant who fled the Irish famine, and Clara, an African American, who escaped American slavery with the help of Canada’s Underground Railroad, a secret network of abolitionists in the 19th century. Audience members follow the drama and have multiple opportunities to make their own connections with the characters and the messages they deliver.

Admission: Adult – $20; Youth – $15; Child – $10 per person, plus taxes. Tickets available at montgomerysinn.streamintickets.com.

United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent Exhibit

North East Grounds
Thursday, January 30 to Thursday, February 7
Weekdays: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Weekends and statutory holidays: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On March 26, 2019, the City of Toronto officially recognized the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD). Throughout February, an IDPAD exhibit will rotate through various City facilities. Stop by to discover what the Decade is about.

Note: the following events are organized by a third-party, but take place at City facilities.

NHL Black Hockey History Tour

From February 6 to 8 Toronto will host this NHL and 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. More information on the museum at www.nhl.com/fans/black-hockey-history.

The free admission museum will be available to tour in the following locations:

Thursday, February 6 – 3 to 8 p.m.
Harry Gairey arena parking lot (275 Bathurst St., )

Friday, February 7 – 3 to 8 p.m.
Malvern Community Centre east entrance parking lot (30 Sewells Rd.)

Saturday, February 8 – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunnydale Acres Rink  south parking lot (50 Amoro Dr.)

United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent Exhibit

Gallery Space
Thursday, January 30 to Thursday, February 7
Weekdays: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Weekends and statutory holidays: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On March 26, 2019, the City of Toronto officially recognized the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD). Throughout February, an IDPAD exhibit will rotate through various City facilities. Stop by to discover what the Decade is about.

The Story of Us: Sharing Black Torontonian Stories

Weekends, February, from noon to 4 p.m.

Celebrate Toronto’s local Black history listening to slam poetry and Jamaican Patois-style storytellers. Watch short films from the Toronto Black Film Festival. Don’t leave the museum without trying some hearty rice and peas, jerk curry and vegetarian/halal samosas.

Admission: Pay what you can

Invisible Chains

Saturday, February 22, noon to 4 p.m.

Join spoken word artist Abdifatah Hussein, who blends narrative, visuals and beats to reach audiences of different ages, backgrounds and beliefs about the realities of Toronto’s first-generation Somali youths.

Admission: Pay what you can

Meet Mrs. Pipkin

Weekends, February 1 to March 1 (except Family Day), noon to 5 p.m.

Tour Spadina mansion and learn about Mrs. Pipkin, the laundress, who escaped slavery in 1850s Maryland and later worked for the Austin family in Toronto.

Admission: Included with regular admission

Celebrate Black History Month at Toronto Public Library with a packed schedule full of fun and thought-provoking events.

Toronto Public Library celebrates Black history and culture 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. Visit tpl.ca/blackhistory  for details.