Each February, the City of Toronto is proud to produce and support events and exhibits during Black History Month, inviting the public to explore and celebrate the heritage, traditions and culture of Black Canadians.
In 1979, Toronto became the first municipality in Canada to proclaim Black History Month through the efforts of many individuals and organizations such as the Ontario Black History Society.
Black History Month is an opportunity for the City of Toronto to recognize the past and present contributions that Black Canadians make to the life of Toronto in such areas as education, medicine, art, culture, public service, economic development, politics and human rights. All exhibits and events are free unless noted.
The City annually proclaims Black History Month and works continually throughout the year on the goals defined by the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, which was endorsed by City Council in 2017. A full schedule of events and activities occurring in 2023 is listed below.
WHEREAS Toronto became the first municipality in Canada to proclaim Black History Month in 1979 to honour the legacy of Black Canadians. The month provides an opportunity to celebrate and commemorate the legacy, history and achievements that Black Canadians have made and continue to make to our city and country.
This is also a time to recognize our shared responsibility to fight anti-Black racism, and reaffirm our commitment to equal rights, opportunity and freedom from discrimination in Toronto and across Canada.
Black History Month is an opportunity to learn about the history of Black Canadians, to recognize the role they have played in building our city and to understand the vital need to combat racism, discrimination and inequity in our communities, partially through gaining a greater understanding of the discrimination and marginalization often faced by Black Canadians.
The City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism unit (CABR) has developed the Toronto Action Plan to eliminate barriers and to ensure systemic changes are made to eradicate anti-Black racism and help create a culture that values inclusion, opposes racism and discrimination of all kinds and prioritizes the well-being and advancement of Black Torontonians.
This effort coincides with United Nations’ declaration of the International Decade for People of African Descent from 2015 – 2024. This International Decade encourages Canada and other countries to take action to protect and promote the human rights of people of African descent, and to recognize the invaluable contributions that people of African descent or origin have made.
Black History is foundational to Toronto’s history and this month gives us an opportunity to learn about the ongoing contributions made by Black Canadians to build our city, and learn of the systemic barriers that continue to face Black communities, both of which are important for all of us to understand. That understanding will make us stronger and better as a city.
NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor John Tory, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim February 2023 as “Black History Month” in the City of Toronto.
Author Andrew Hunter presents a reading and conversation about his new book, “It Was Dark There All The Time: Sophia Burthen and the Legacy of Slavery in Canada”. February 2 at Gerrard/Ashdale Library, February 15 at City Hall, February 27 at Fairview Library.
Artist Gordon Shadrach sits down to have a conversation with artists Christine Nnawuchi and Moraa Stump on their contributions to Dis/mantle. February 4; 1 to 3 p.m. Register free online
Ron Nelson will join Before the 6ix hosts Del Cowie and DJ Agile in an interview to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Fantastic Voyage radio show. February 6; 7 to 8 p.m. at Toronto Reference Library. Register free online
Skaters can skate to the tunes of Bob Marley. February 6; 1 to 5 p.m. at Nathan Phillips Square.
Singer and songwriter LOKRE takes us through a journey of generations with reflections on family, legacy and celebrating culture through live music. February 11; 7 to 9 p.m. Spadina Museum. Register free online
Black History Month will be celebrated at Harry Gairey Outdoor rink, 275 Bathurst Street. The Skate Lending Library will be onsite. February 11; noon to 4 p.m.
Join Tanya Turton for a conversation about her new book at By the Lake Book Club. Writing from multiple points of view, Turton deftly paints the portrait of Jade, a young woman grappling with the loss of her twin sister and navigating life as a young black queer woman in this comical novel that tackles relationships, race, sexuality, loss and becoming an adult. Each in-person event includes a reading, discussion, audience Q&A and book-signing. Virtual events are subtitled live and provide online viewing and audio. February 21; 7 to 8:45 p.m. Tickets $28 ($10 virtual). Reservations available by phone only at 416-338-7255.
Film screening and talk with this Scarborough Director. She is dedicated to celebrating the Black experience with a focus on beauty, spirituality and vulnerability. Her film PICK won the Canadian Screen Award in 2020. February 23; 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Clark Centre for the Arts.
The City of Toronto’s Music Office is partnering with Waveland to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities as they continue to play a vital role in the arts & culture sector of Canada. Experience a day of music, drag queens and vendors market featuring black-owned businesses. This is a 19+ ticketed event and Saturday February 25; 3 to 11 p.m. at The Great Hall, 1087 Queen Street West. Register online
Producer, composer and instrumentalist akaMatisse presents his interpretation of iconic pieces of music representing Black culture from the powerful mediums of film. February 25; 7 to 9 p.m. Todmorden Mills. Register free online
shop local at the Black Entrepreneurs Market at the Centennial Park Ski Chalet. February 24; 5 to 8:30 p.m. and February 25; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Prince Shakur joins host Rinaldo Walcott in the Appel Salon to discuss his debut memoir, When They Tell You To Be Good. February 28; 7 to 8 p.m. at Toronto Reference Library. Register free online
Part of the Awakenings program, Dis/Mantle is the immersive reimagining of Spadina Museum using an Afrofuturism narrative inspired by Black abolitionists: Mrs. Pipkin, the formerly enslaved freedom seeker who worked as a laundress in the house. On view until May 28 at Spadina Museum.
Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first Black woman to publish a newspaper in North America. Wednesdays and Sundays at Mackenzie House. Register free online
This exhibit spotlights works created as part of the StreetARToronto ‘Just Us’ Mural Program developed in partnership with NIA Centre for the Arts and 7th Generation Image Makers from 2020 – 2022. Murals involved in this program speak to historical and current social issues and movements within Black and Indigenous communities and the importance, benefits, and opportunities to build a better future through inclusion, collaboration, and knowledge sharing.
The exhibit runs from February 2 to 19 along with screenings/info sessions on February 9 and 16 at the Worth Gallery.
The Identity Quilt program supports the contributions of written reflections to the Dis/Mantle exhibition. Drop in during regular Museum hours at Spadina Museum throughout February.
The Toronto Archives, in partnership with the Black Artists’ Networks in Dialogue Gallery and Cultural Centre, presents this photography exhibition featuring portraits of 40 Black women leaders by four Toronto-based visual artists. The exhibit celebrates and highlights Black women leaders across various sectors who have led and continue to inspire change in their communities while paving the way for the next generation of Black women leaders through community involvement and advocacy. The exhibition reveals little-known, as well as renowned stories of successful women, all told through the eyes of four photographers whose creative backgrounds capture the essence of each of the featured women. Photos for the exhibit were taken by Toronto-based visual artists Janice Reid, Jon Blak, Patricia Ellah and Leyla Jeyte and the exhibit is curated by Sarah Edo and Belinda Uwase. The exhibition is free and will run until August 2023 at the Toronto Archives, 255 Spadina Road; weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 5 p.m. during the month of February.
Informed by an interest in ecology, interdisciplinary visual artist Charmaine Lurch brings a thoughtful and focused attention to the complexity of the natural world and the interactions of humans within it. Sculptures on display in the lobby until June at Clark Centre for the Arts.
Toronto-based multi-award winning international artist Dionne Simpson will share works from her project, #Dewoven, an engaging selection of mixed media and painted works. Exhibit from February 1 to 27 at Clark Centre for the Arts.
Despite the prejudices imposed upon Black individuals in the 1800s, their communities made significant contributions to Toronto. This exhibition recognizes how Black residents have enriched our city. Exhibition on view until February 23 at Etobicoke Civic Centre Art Gallery.
The Black History in Toronto page highlights the history of Black communities, activists and leaders, service organizations and much more. Social media users can also follow the Archives’ Twitter account and Instagram account, for images and stories of significant Black figures, such as William Peyton Hubbard, Dr. Alvin Curling and Donald Moore to celebrate #BlackHistoryMonth.
Toronto Public Libraries celebrates Black History with year-round events and programs that honour Black heritage and consider the historical significance and contemporary contributions of Black activists and artists from around the world. Discover upcoming events, reading lists, videos, podcast episodes and more.
This new four-part video series takes viewers behind the scenes and in conversation with Dis/Mantle lead artist Gordon Shadrach.
Featuring videos created by Black artists for Toronto History Museums.
Starting February 1, the “Did you know?” poster series will be seen at outdoor ice rinks, the Earl Bales Park Ski and Snowboard Centre, and the four open golf courses. The posters, painted by local youth artists, feature illustrations of notable Black figures and their contributions.
As well, the City’s Community Centres with viewing screens will play presentations highlighting Black Canadians who have made significant contributions across various sectors, including sports, entertainment and politics.