February is here and with that comes the time to reflect on and celebrate the important contributions of those of African descent to Canadian culture. This is also a time of awareness building and learning in order to help deepen understanding and strengthen relationships in the whole of the human family. The Racial Justice Committee and the Black History Month planning team has been working hard and will have a number of resources and opportunities available to the entire Synod beginning next week. They include:
- A video invitation from Bishop Michael introducing Black History Month.
- A weekly feature in the Friday mailer, highlighting important contributions of those of African descent to culture and society.
- Worship materials will be made available for use anytime in the month of February or beyond.
In addition, on February 26th at 11 am, Mount Zion Lutheran Church in Waterloo has invited the Synod to join them for their Black History Month worship service, either in person or via the livestream. And lastly, coming later this year, a video study will be available to all congregations so that conversation, learning and community building can continue. More information and access to these resources will be available on the Synod website very soon!
2023 Worship Resources
Week #1 – HISTORY
VICENTI LUSITANO- BLACK CLASSICAL MUSIC COMPOSER
Excerpts from the BBC
For hundreds of years, the remarkable Vicente Lusitano has been forgotten. But now, finally, both his music and his story are being heard once more, writes Holly Williams.
Lusitano was born around 1520, in Portugal. In a 17th-Century source, he is described as “pardo” – a commonly used term in Portugal at the time meaning mixed race. It is most likely that Lusitano had a black African mother and a white Portuguese father; Portugal had a significant population of people of African descent, due to its involvement in the slave trade.
What we do know is that Lusitano became a Catholic priest, composer, and music theorist, and in 1551 left Portugal for Rome – a multicultural musical capital of Europe at the time – most likely following a rich patron, the Portuguese ambassador. Lusitano appears to have done very well for himself there, publishing a collection of motets: sacred, polyphonic choral compositions (where voices sing several layers of independent melodies simultaneously).
Sometime after 1553, Lusitano converts to Protestantism – itself an unheard of development for an Iberian composer in the era. He also gets married, and moves to Germany; we know he receives payment for some music there in 1562, and applied for a job in Stuttgart.
But although his achievements in Rome suggests Lusitano won significant respect for his music in his lifetime, it wasn’t as widely copied or performed as some of his contemporaries, and seems not to have spread across Europe; this has led to some musicologists in Portugal appreciating him, but a failure to cut through among non-Portuguese speaking scholars since. Occasional flashes of academic interest have never transformed into sustained attention, an accessible and readily shareable modern score, or performances of the thing that really matters: his music.
Read more: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20220615-the-lost-16th-century-black-composer-vicente-lusitano
Portia White: Classical Contralto Singer
Portia May White, contralto, teacher (born 24 June 1911 in Truro, NS; died 13 February 1968 in Toronto, ON). Portia White was the first Black Canadian concert singer to win international acclaim. She was considered one of the best classical singers of the 20th century. Her voice was described by one critic as “a gift from heaven.” She was often compared to the celebrated African American contralto Marian Anderson. The Nova Scotia Talent Trust was established in 1944 specifically to enable White to concentrate on her professional career. She was named a “person of national historic significance” by the Government of Canada in 1995.
Portia White was the third of 13 children born to William A. White, whose parents had been enslaved in Virginia, and Izie Dora White, who was descended from Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia. William White was the second Black Canadian admitted to Acadia University. He graduated with a degree in Theology in 1903. He later became the first Black Canadian to receive a Doctorate of Divinity from Acadia University. He also helped form the No. 2 Construction Battalion — the first and only all-Black battalion in Canadian military history. He served in the unit as the only Black chaplain in the British army during the First World War. Following the war, he moved the family to Halifax, where he became pastor of the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church.
Early Years and Education
Portia White began singing in the church choir under her mother’s direction at age six. By the age of eight, she was singing the soprano parts from the opera Lucia de Lammermoor. She was determined to become a professional singer and walked 16 km a week for music lessons.
Voice Training and Professional Performances
In the 1930s, White took voice lessons as a mezzo-soprano with Bertha Cruikshanks at the Halifax Conservatory of Music. She also sang on devotional radio broadcasts hosted by her father. She competed in the Halifax Music Festival and won the Helen Kennedy Silver Cup in 1935, 1937 and 1938. The Halifax Ladies’ Musical Club provided a scholarship for White to study with Ernesto Vinci at the Halifax Conservatory of Music in 1939. Under Vinci, White began to sing as a contralto.
THE BLACK BATTALION-CANADA’S one and only all-black military battalion formed during WW1.
Excerpts from MP Pam Damoff’s (Burlington N., Oakville) newsletter: Nov 7-11, 2022 and BCC
Officially named “The Number Two Construction Battalion”, the unit was affectionately known as the “Black Battalion.”
In August 1914, tens of thousands of men across Canada rushed to their local recruiting centres to enlist at the start of the First World War. Many Black men who attempted to enlist found they also had to fight anti-Black racism. Some men were told that “this is a white man’s war” and others that “we’ll send for you when we need you.” Throughout this experience, Black Canadians were repeatedly told that many white men would not serve alongside Black men.
By 1916, there was an urgent need for military labour units. In April 1916, Canada agreed to a request from Britain to form one or two labour battalions and it was eventually decided that one would be a Black labour battalion.
No. 2 Construction Battalion was authorized on July 5, 1916. Recruiting began in the Maritimes on July 19, and by August 30, the battalion became one of the few units that was allowed to recruit across the country. In December 1916, the battalion was advised to prepare for service overseas because they were urgently needed. In late January, while it was mounting a large recruiting campaign to get the battalion up to strength, No. 2 Construction Battalion sent 250 men to New Brunswick to remove railway tracks that were urgently needed for military operations in Belgium and France.
On March 28, 1917, No. 2 Construction Battalion sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia on the SS Southland, and arrived in Liverpool, England on April 7. The Battalion was reorganized as a labour company of 500 officers and men.
On May 17, the newly renamed No. 2 Canadian Construction Company was sent to support Canadian Forestry Corps operations in the Jura Mountains of southeast France. On arrival they began operations immediately. This included operating and maintaining the water system that supplied all the camps, maintaining the roads and helping build a logging railroad. They were also directly involved in timber operations, helping cut down trees, move them to the mills and then sawing them into finished lumber. They then transported this to the railway station.
Lumber was an essential requirement in the trenches and along the front lines. It lined the sides and bottom of trenches and was used to build observation posts, bridges and walkways. Lumber from Jura was even used to build French fighter aircraft. The work of No. 2 Construction Company allowed the mills to produce over twice as much lumber as mills that did not have this support.
With the Armistice on November 11, 1918, lumber was no longer required. No. 2 Construction Company and other Canadian Forestry Corps companies were sent to England in early December 1918, before returning to Canada. Most of the men from No. 2 Construction Battalion sailed for Halifax by mid-January 1919 and were sent back to the provinces where they were originally recruited. The majority were discharged by the end of February; and No. 2 Construction Battalion was disbanded on September 20, 1920, when the Canadian Expeditionary Force was dissolved.
View documentary: https://anthonysherwood.com/portfolio-item/honour-before-glory/
JOHN WARE: Black Canadian Cowboy and Rancher
John Ware (c. 1845 – 11 September 1905) was a Canadian cowboy who was influential in the early years of the burgeoning ranching industry in Southern Alberta. Remembered for his excellent horsemanship, he was among the first ranchers in Alberta, arriving in 1882 on a cattle drive from the United States and settling to ranch until his death in 1905.
Ware was born into slavery, and there is no record of his birth. The historian J. W. Grant MacEwan claimed he was born on a plantation near Georgetown, South Carolina. However, on his marriage certificate, Ware himself was stated to be born in Tennessee. After the American Civil War, he left for Texas, where he learned the skills of a rancher and became a cowboy. Ware then worked his way north to Canada driving cattle from Texas to Montana. In 1882, he was hired to help bring 3,000 head of cattle from the United States to Sir Hugh Allan’s North-West Cattle Co in Alberta. After delivering his charge near Calgary, he found work at the Bar U and Quorn ranches before starting his own ranch near the Red Deer River. By 1900, he and his wife, Mildred Lewis (1871–1905), had five children. He moved from the Calgary Region to a spot northeast of the village of Duchess, Alberta. In 1902 his first home was destroyed by the spring flood. He rebuilt his home on higher ground overlooking a stream, now called Ware Creek. In the spring of 1905, Mildred died of pneumonia, and despite being a master horseman, John was killed only months later when his horse tripped in a badger hole, which crushed its rider and broke his neck. Ware’s funeral was reported to be one of the largest held in the early days of Calgary.
Like for any other folk hero, there are a wide range of tales about his ability to eat, ride, and shoot, all of which contribute to the cowboy lore of the time. It is said that he was never tossed from a wild horse and that he popularized steer wrestling, which would then become a highlight of the Calgary Stampede. His story is that of a remarkable figure in history who helped to lay the foundations of the ranching industry in Western Canada and at the same time defied stereotypes. Ware became one of the most well-respected figures on the Albertan frontier and is still an important part of Alberta history.
View CTV Youtube video: “Black rancher John Ware named a Canadian of national historic significance”
ALLAN GEORGE BALDING – Canadian Golfer
Balding was born in Toronto, Ontario on April 29, 1924. Growing up during the Great Depression, Balding quit school in the 7th grade and began caddying at the nearby Islington golf course, despite not previously golfing before. Balding enlisted in the Canadian Army at 19 for during World War II, and saw duty in France and Germany. Balding enlisted thinking that his small stature would land him in the Service Corps, however he was assigned to the 13th Field Battery of the 2nd Artillery division as a driver-mechanic. He was discharged before the end of the war due to a shoulder injury sustained while “fooling around” on a motorcycle. After the war in the late 1940s, Balding worked at a Toronto tire manufacturing company, and later at a golf club in Burlington. He had played golf only occasionally as a youth, but began playing more after the War ended, improving his game rapidly under the instruction of pro Les Franks.
Balding began on the Canadian Professional Golf Tour, winning his first two tournaments in 1952. In 1955, Balding became the first Canadian to win a PGA Tour event in the United States, when he won the Mayfair Open. In 1957, Balding decided to play full time on the U.S. tour, winning three events on the Tour and finished 6th on the money list with $28,000, the highest of any Canadian at that point, and would not be eclipsed until Mike Weir finished 6th on the money list in 2003.
Balding would go on to win an impressive number of tournaments in many different venues over a long period of time during his career. He won ten events on the Canadian Tour from 1952 through 1973. He won four tournaments on the PGA Tour, the most of any Canadian to that point. In 1968, in Italy, he won the World Cup team title for Canada (with George Knudson), as well as the individual title. Balding played on the Canadian National Team in the Canada Cup / World Cup from 1956 to 1970, except in the years 1962, 1965 and 1966. Balding was named Ontario Athlete of the Year in 1955 and 1957. He was elected to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1968.
Balding’s career was slowed by several health issues, requiring shoulder surgery in 1965, and being diagnosed with blood cancer in the 1970s. Balding was also very critical of the Canadian golf establishment in the 1970s, noting that there were fewer Canadians on the U.S. tour in the 1970s than when he was active in the 1950s and 1960s.
Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Balding
DR. ANDERSON RUFFIN ABBOTT, FIRST BLACK CANADIAN PHYSICIAN
Anderson Ruffin Abbott (7 April 1837 – 29 December 1913) was the first Black Canadian to be licensed as a physician. His career included participation in the American Civil War. Significant roles included coroner of Kent County, Ontario, and surgeon-in-chief.
Anderson Abbott was born on 7 April 1837 in Toronto to Wilson Ruffin and Mary Ellen Toyer Abbott. His parents are Americans of African ancestry. The Abbotts were a prominent Black family in Toronto, who had left Alabama – as free people of colour – after receiving a warning that their store was to be ransacked. After first living a short time in New York, they settled in Upper Canada in 1835 or 1836. Wilson Abbott soon began to purchase real estate, in and around Toronto, where he owned 48 properties by 1871. The senior Abbott also became active in politics.
The family’s prosperity allowed Anderson Abbott to receive an excellent education. He attended both private and public schools, including William King‘s school, in the black Elgin settlement (now North Buxton, Ontario). He was an honour student at the Toronto Academy and later attended Oberlin College in Ohio. He returned to Canada and in 1857, entered University College in Toronto and in 1858, became a medical student at the Toronto School of Medicine. He studied under Alexander Thomas Augusta, a Black physician who was born in the U.S. Although he did not graduate, Abbott received a license to practise from the Medical Board of Upper Canada, in 1861, thus becoming the first Canadian-born Black physician.
In 1866, Abbott resigned from service to the Union Army and returned to Canada. He attended primary medical classes at the University of Toronto the following year. While he did not graduate, he established a medical practice and was admitted to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in 1871. In an Anglican wedding ceremony in Toronto on 9 August 1871, he married Mary Ann Casey, the 18-year-old daughter of a successful Black barber. Abbott and his wife moved to Chatham where he resumed his medical practice. They eventually had three daughters and two sons.
Like his father, Abbott soon became an important member of the Black community in Toronto. From 1873 to 1880, he fought against racially segregated schools as president of the Wilberforce Educational Institute and was appointed coroner for Kent County, Ontario, in 1874, the first Black man to hold that office. Abbott contributed to a local newspaper, the Chatham Planet, and was associate editor of the Missionary Messenger, the journal of the local British Methodist Episcopal Church. Abbott was made president of both the Chatham Literary and Debating Society and the Chatham Medical Society in 1878. Abbott moved his medical practice to Dundas, Ontario, in 1881 where he also served in some important community roles including trustee of that community’s high school and chairman of the town’s internal management committee from 1885 to 1889. He also worked as an administrator for the Dundas Mechanics’ Institute.
The family moved to Oakville, Ontario in 1889 but returned to Toronto the following year. He was elected a member of the local post of the Grand Army of the Republic and one of 273 Civil War veterans in Toronto to wear the badge of that fraternity. He was then known as “Captain Abbott”, a rank which might reflect his office within the Grand Army of the Republic rather than his actual rank during the American Civil War. In November 1892, Abbott was appointed aide-de-camp on the Staff of the Commanding Officers Dept. of New York. A source of great pride for Abbott and his family, this was the highest military honour ever bestowed on a Black person in Canada or the United States.
REV. ADDIE AYLESTOCK-First Black woman to be ordained in Canada.
Rev. Addie Aylestock (1909–1998) was a Canadian minister in the British Methodist Episcopal Church, the first woman minister to be ordained in that church, and the first Black woman to be ordained in Canada.
Aylestock was the daughter of William Aylestock and Minnie Lawson and was the eldest of eight children. She was born in Glen Allan, near Elmira, Ontario, from one of the many Black farming communities in the province of Ontario; her family lived depending on where work was available. Her family was descended from Blacks who settled along the Conestogo River in Regional Municipality of Waterloo and Wellington County, Ontario.
She was raised in the (White) Methodist Church; she moved to Toronto when the Great Depression struck, and got a job as a domestic servant, and later as a dressmaker. While working as a domestic servant, she attended evening classes at Central Technical School in Toronto. A desire to become a missionary (in Liberia) led her to enroll in the (transdenominational) Toronto Bible College, from which she graduated in 1945. While a student in college, Aylestock became active with the youth and working with Sunday school in a BME (British Methodist Episcopal) church on Chestnut Street in Toronto. The pastor encouraged Aylestock to consider becoming a deaconess.
She joined the British Methodist Episcopal Church (an offshoot of the African Methodist Episcopal Church) and became a deaconess in 1944. Her first position was in the church in Africville. She also served as a deaconess in Halifax, Montreal, and Toronto. After the BME allowed for the ordination of women in 1951 (prompted by the church superintendent’s belief in Aylestock’s capability), she was the first to be ordained, and was assigned to the BME Church in North Buxton. She served as pastor in three further churches, namely in Montreal, Toronto and Owen Sound. Aylestock’s obituary, published in the St. Catharines Standard, said she also presided over churches in Fort Erie and Niagara Falls.
Week #2 – CULTURE
Michaëlle Jean: GOVERNOR-GENERAL, CANADA (2005-2010)
Michaëlle Jean, (born September 6, 1957, Port-au-Prince, Haiti), Canadian journalist and documentarian who was Canada’s 27th governor-general (2005–10) and the first person of African heritage to hold that post. She later became the first woman to serve as secretary-general of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (2015–19).
Jean’s family was descended from slaves. Her father suffered imprisonment and torture under the regime of François Duvalier, leading to the family’s flight to Canada when Jean was age 11. They settled in Montreal. Jean proved to be a brilliant student, studying languages and literature at the University of Montreal, where she earned a master’s degree in comparative literature. She also attended universities in Italy and France.
A social activist, Jean mixed freely in the diverse world of Montreal’s ethnic communities, honing a perfect command of French and English in the process. Embarking on a career in broadcast journalism, she became a popular commentator on the French-language network of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and also worked frequently on the English network. From 2001 Jean worked as an anchor for Radio-Canada’s Le Téléjournal, and in 2004 she began to host her own television interview show, Michaëlle. She won numerous awards for her journalism, including the Amnesty International Journalism Award. With her husband, French-born Canadian filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond, she also made several acclaimed documentaries, most notably Haïti dans tous nos rêves (1995; “Haiti in All Our Dreams”).
On September 27, 2005, Jean was officially installed as Canada’s governor-general. She was the first black person and the first Haitian immigrant to hold the prestigious but mainly ceremonial post as the British monarch’s viceregal representative in Canada. The appointment brought out, in a striking fashion, the changing nature of modern Canada: since World War II Canada had become a genuinely multicultural society, with attitudes influenced by the heavy flow of immigrants.
SENATOR DR. WANDA THOMAS BERNARD
Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard CM ONS (born August 1, 1953) is a Canadian senator. She was a highly regarded social worker, educator, researcher, community activist and advocate of social change. She has worked in mental health at the provincial level, in rural community practice at the municipal level, and, in 1990, as a professor at the Dalhousie School of Social Work, where she also served as director for a decade. In 2016, she was appointed Special Advisor on Diversity and Inclusiveness at Dalhousie University and she is the first African Nova Scotian to hold a tenure track position at Dalhousie University and to be promoted to full professor. Dr. Thomas Bernard worked with provincial organizations to bring diversity to the political processes in Nova Scotia and teach community members about Canada’s legislative process and citizen engagement. She is a founding member of the Association of Black Social Workers (ABSW) which helps address the needs of marginalized citizens, especially those of African descent. As a former member of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and as its past Chair, was instrumental in the development of advice to ministers regarding frameworks for gender violence prevention and health equity. At the national level, she has served as a member of the National Coalition of Advisory Councils on the Status of Women, she has served as an expert witness in human rights cases and has presented at many local, national and international forums.
Dr. Thomas Bernard has received many honours for her work and community leadership, notably the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada.
On October 27, 2016, Bernard was named to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sit as an independent. At the time of her appointment, she was the chair of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. She is the first African Nova Scotian woman to serve in the Senate Chamber.
George Elliott Clarke: Canadian Poet and Playwright
George Elliott Clarke, OC ONS (born February 12, 1960) is a Canadian academic, poet, playwright and literary critic who served as the Poet Laureate of Toronto from 2012 to 2015 and as the 2016–2017 Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate. His work is known largely for its use of a vast range of literary and artistic traditions (both “high” and “low”), its lush physicality and its bold political substance. One of Canada’s most illustrious poets, Clarke is also known for chronicling the experience and history of the Black Canadian communities of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, creating a cultural geography that he has coined “Africadia”.
Clarke was born to William and Geraldine Clarke in Windsor, Nova Scotia, near the Black Loyalist community of Three Mile Plains, and grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He graduated from Queen Elizabeth High School in 1978.
Mr Clarke is also a great-nephew of the late Canadian opera singer Portia White, politician Bill White and labour union leader Jack White. Clarke is a seventh-generation African Canadian and is descended from African-American refugees from the War of 1812 who escaped to the British and were relocated to Nova Scotia. Clarke is the great grandson of William Andrew White, an American-born Baptist preacher and missionary, army chaplain, and radio pioneer, who was one of the very few black officers in the British army worldwide during World War I. Clarke also has Mi’kmaq Indigenous ancestry.
He earned a BA honours degree in English from the University of Waterloo (1984), an MA degree in English from Dalhousie University (1989) and a PhD degree in English from Queen’s University (1993). He has received honorary degrees from Dalhousie University (LL.D.), the University of New Brunswick (Litt.D.), the University of Alberta (Litt.D.), the University of Waterloo (Litt.D.), and most recently, Saint Mary’s University (Litt.D). He taught English and Canadian Studies at Duke University from 1994 to 1999 and was appointed the Seagrams Visiting Chair in Canadian Studies at McGill University for the academic year 1998–1999. In 1999, he became professor of English at the University of Toronto, where, in 2003, he was appointed the inaugural E J Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature. Clarke has also served as a Noted Scholar at the University of British Columbia (2002), as a visiting scholar at Mount Allison University (2005), and as the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor in Canadian Studies at Harvard University (2013–14); and, outside of the academic sphere, as a researcher for the Ontario Provincial Parliament (1982–83), editor of the Imprint (University of Waterloo, 1984–85) and The Rap (Halifax, 1985–87), social worker for the Black United Front of Nova Scotia (1985–86), parliamentary aide to Howard McCurdy (1987–91), and newspaper columnist for the Halifax Daily News (1988–89).
Clarke is a sought-after conference speaker and is active in poetry circles throughout Canada, the US, the Caribbean, and Europe. He is also a founding member of the music collective Afro-Métis Nation, which put out its first album, Constitution, in May 2019. The group derives its name from the artists’ mixed Africadian and Mi’kmaq descent. Clarke has described the group’s sound as “a mash-up of southern-fried blues and saltwater spirituals, with Nashville guitars, Mi’kmaw-and-“African” drums, Highland bagpipes and Acadien fiddles.”
Rosemary Sadlier: Canadian Author
Rosemary Sadlier was the president of the Ontario Black History Society (1993-2015). The OBHS is responsible for initiating observances of Black History Month and the celebration of August 1 as Emancipation Day. She is the author of four books on African-Canadian history and consultant/co-author of a fifth. … Google Books
Born: 1977 (age 46 years), Toronto
Rosemary was born and raised in Toronto, and she has degrees in teaching and social work. Her roots in Canada reach back to pre-Confederation: her mother’s family can be traced to 1840, while her father’s ancestors arrived in New Brunswick in 1793.
Along with the 1995 establishment of National Black History Month, in that same year Sadlier also initiated the formal celebration of August 1st as Emancipation Day, which is still being sought nationally. For Rosemary, such events have helped and will continue to help Canadian students and teachers to recognize the contributions of Black people in Canada. Rosemary has presented nationally and internationally – including to the United Nations – on the subjects of Black Canadian history, curricula, and anti-racism. She has also researched and written prolifically about Black history and Black Canadian history.
Rosemary has received several honours and awards including the Order of Ontario, the William Peyton Hubbard Race Relations Award, Women for PACE Award, the Black Links Award, the Planet Africa Marcus Garvey Award and the Harry Jerome Award. Most recently, she was awarded the Lifetime Achiever Award from the International Women Achievers’ Awards.
BOOKS BY ROSEMARY SADLIER
- The Kids Book of Black Canadian History (2003)
- Black History: Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas (2009)
- Harriet Tubman: Freedom Seeker, Freedom Leader (2012)
- Harriet Tubman (Quest Biography): (2012)
Measha Brueggergosman: Canadian Soprano Opera Singer
Measha Brueggergosman (née Gosman; June 28, 1977) is a Canadian soprano who performs both as an opera singer and concert artist. She has performed internationally and won numerous awards. Her recordings of both classical and popular music have also received awards.
She was born Measha Gosman in Fredericton, New Brunswick, to Anne Eatmon and Sterling Gosman. As a child, Gosman began singing in the choir of her local Baptist church, where her father served as a deacon. She studied voice and piano from the age of seven. As a teen, she took voice lessons in her home town, and spent summers on scholarships at the Boston Conservatoryand at a choral camp in Rothesay, New Brunswick. She studied for one year with New Brunswick soprano Wendy Nielsen, before moving on to studies at the University of Toronto, where she obtained a B.Mus. She went to Germany for five years, where she pursued a Master’s degree at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf, Germany.
The Calgary Black Chambers (CBC)- 2020-present
The Calgary Black Chambers is a society of black professionals that promotes leadership capacity, advocates for social justice, and runs the Calgary Black Achievement Awards. It is co-founded by Jon Cornish (former Stampeder), Chi Iliya-Ndule, Kene Ilochonwu, Michael Lee Hing, Chucks Okafor, Akwasi Antwi, Clarence Wynter and Charles Buchanan.
The CBC is a not-for-profit organization looking to increase Black leadership capacity, and uplift BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) culture throughout Calgary by community volunteering and providing scholarships for our future generations.
The CBC forges opportunities for Black professionals to further their professional development and give back to their community.
Read more: https://calgaryblackchambers.ca/
Week #3: Arts & Entertainment
Oscar Peterson: World Renowned Canadian Jazz Pianist, composer, Teacher
Oscar Emmanuel Peterson (August 15, 1925 – December 23, 2007) was a Canadian virtuoso jazz pianist, composer and teacher. Considered one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, Peterson released more than 200 recordings, won seven Grammy Awards, as well as a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy, and received numerous other awards and honours. He played thousands of concerts worldwide in a career lasting more than 60 years. He was called the “Maharaja of the keyboard” by Duke Ellington, simply “O.P.” by his friends, and informally in the jazz community as “the King of inside swing”.
Peterson was born in Montreal, Quebec, to immigrants from the West Indies (Saint Kitts and Nevis and the British Virgin Islands); His mother, Kathleen, was a domestic worker; his father, Daniel, worked as a porter for Canadian Pacific Railway and was an amateur musician who taught himself to play the organ, trumpet and piano. Peterson grew up in the neighbourhood of Little Burgundy in Montreal. It was in this predominantly black neighbourhood that he encountered the jazz culture. At the age of five, Peterson began honing his skills on trumpet and piano, but a bout of tuberculosis when he was seven prevented him from playing the trumpet again, so he directed all his attention to the piano. His father was one of his first music teachers, and his sister Daisy taught him classical piano. Peterson was persistent at practising scales and classical études.
As a child, Peterson studied with Hungarian-born pianist Paul de Marky, a student of István Thomán, who was himself a pupil of Franz Liszt, so his early training was predominantly based on classical piano. But he was captivated by traditional jazz and boogie-woogie and learned several ragtime pieces. He was called “the Brown Bomber of the Boogie-Woogie”.
At the age of nine, Peterson played piano with a degree of control that impressed professional musicians. For many years his piano studies included four to six hours of daily practice. Only in his later years did he decrease his practice to one or two hours daily. In 1940, at fourteen years of age, he won the national music competition organized by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. After that victory, he dropped out of the High School of Montreal, where he played in a band with Maynard Ferguson. He became a professional pianist, starring in a weekly radio show and playing at hotels and music halls. In his teens he was a member of the Johnny Holmes Orchestra. From 1945 to 1949 he worked in a trio and recorded for Victor Records. He gravitated toward boogie-woogie and swing with a particular fondness for Nat King Cole and Teddy Wilson. By the time he was in his 20s, he had developed a reputation as a technically brilliant and melodically inventive pianist.
Peterson taught piano and improvisation in Canada, mainly in Toronto. With associates, he started and headed the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto for five years during the 1960s, but it closed because touring called him and his associates away, and it did not have government funding. Later, he mentored the York University jazz program and was the Chancellor of the university for several years in the early 1990s. He published jazz piano etudes for practice. He asked his students to study the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, especially The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Goldberg Variations, and The Art of Fugue, considering these piano pieces essential for every serious pianist. Among his students were pianists Benny Green and Oliver Jones.
Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Peterson
Sandra Brewster – Canadian Artist
Sandra Brewster is a Canadian visual artist based in Toronto. Her work is multidisciplinary in nature, and deals with notions of identity, representation and memory; centering Black presence in Canada. Wikipedia
Born: 1973 (age 50 years), Toronto
Brewster was born to a Guyanese immigrant family and grew up in Pickering, Ontario. She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at York University in 1997 and her Master of Visual Studies at University of Toronto in 2017. Her thesis exhibition, titled A Trace | Evidence of time past, was shown at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto.
Brewster’s early works focused on traditional portraiture. She later transitioned towards drawings and metallic sculptures. Her work has been exhibited in Canada, the US, the Caribbean and South Africa. She was an artist-in-residence in Brazil, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa, and her work has been published in numerous magazines, including Caribbean Beat and The Walrus.
One of Brewster’s most prominent bodies of work is Smiths – a series of drawings that question identity and representation. Smiths began in 2014 when Brewster started cutting pages with the name “Smith” from phone books, and transposed these pages over afro-headed, faceless individuals. The series combines the varied personalities, desires, and personal stories of these people by applying a unified visual treatment, which removed any sense of individuality. Brewster eventually developed these drawings into a series of paintings that illustrate the impact of gun violence on young black men in Toronto.
Sandra Brewster was awarded the title of Artist in Education by the Ontario Arts Council in 2009. She was awarded the Gattuso Prize for an outstanding featured solo exhibition It’s all a blur in the CONTACT Photography Festival in 2017. Brewster is also a recipient of the Artist Prize from the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts (2018).
Thom Allison – Canadian Actor, Singer, Director
Thom Allison is a Canadian actor. He is best known for his regular recurring role as Pree in the television series Killjoys, for which he won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series at the 8th Canadian Screen Awards. Wikipedia
Primarily a stage actor, he first attained prominence for his performance as Robin Turner in Canadian Stage‘s 2000 stage adaptation of Outrageous!, for which he received a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role – Musical in 2001. He has also frequently appeared in productions at the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival, and in touring productions of Rent and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and appeared as drag queen Therese in the first episode of Kim’s Convenience.
Allison won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Pree in the television series Killjoys. He was also the recipient of two Tyrone Guthrie Awards presented by the Stratford Festival Company.
Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thom_Allison
Liberty Silver – Canadian Singer
Liberty Silver is a Canadian singer, based in Toronto, Ontario. Her music draws inspiration from diverse genres, ranging from R&B, Jazz, Pop, Gospel, Reggae to Rock. Wikipedia
Born: 1962 (age 61 years), Detroit, Michigan, United States
Liberty Silver was born to a Jamaican-Irish mother and a Hawaiian father, who first met while competing at the Commonwealth Games. Not long after her birth, Silver was placed for adoption by her birth parents and was adopted into a household in Ontario, Canada. Silver grew up in various cities in Ontario, including Kingston and Peterborough. In her later years, she discovered through the Ontario adoption records that she has a biological brother who plays for an Ottawa-based band.
As the first Black woman to receive a Juno Award, Liberty Silver is widely known for paving the way for future generations of Black female artists in the Canadian music industry. She won two 1985 Juno Awards, one for Best R&B/Soul Recording of the Year (“Lost Somewhere Inside Your Love”) and the other for Best Reggae/Calypso Recording (“Heaven Must Have Sent You” with Otis Gayle). She has been nominated for a Juno Award a total of five times, from 1985 to 1989. She was also on the Super Dave Osborne show.
At merely 12 years old, she performed in a reggae band as an opening act in New York City for Bob Marley at Madison Square Garden. In 2000, Silver also hosted a TV series known as Centre Stage Chronicles, directed by Sylvia Sweeney and Aeyliya Husain. Season 1 aired a total of 13 episodes, with guests ranging from Martha Chaves to Carol Welsman.
As a member of a supergroup called Northern Lights, she appeared on the platinum-selling 1985 African charity ensemble single “Tears Are Not Enough“, singing a duet with Mike Reno of Loverboy. Other artists on the track include Bryan Adams, Anne Murray and Joni Mitchell.
Silver competed as a vocalist on Star Search, winning the competition several weeks in a row. In 2016, she sang Amazing Grace at the funeral of a former Toronto mayor Rob Ford. Other prominent figures Silver performed for include: Former U.S. President Barack Obama, Celine Dion, Desmond Tutu, former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, among many others.
Silver has appeared in a wide range of distinguished music festivals throughout her career, from Niagara Jazz Festival, The Beaches International Jazz Festival, Antigua Jazz Festival, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Jamaican Air Canada Jazz Festival, Barbados Jazz Festival, Toronto Funk + Soul Festival to TRIUS Jazz Festival, to name a few.
Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Silver
Toronto Mass Choir – Canadian Gospel Singers
Toronto Mass Choir is a Canadian gospel music group that incorporates contemporary gospel, traditional gospel as well as Caribbean music influences.
Seeds of this gospel choir were sown during the choir’s initial live recording concert as part of the Association of Gospel Music Ministries workshop in October 1988. Since then the choir has recorded twelve albums including the Juno award winning album, Instrument of Praise, which won Contemporary Christian/Gospel album of the Year in 2003; Going Home, an all Caribbean gospel project in 2008, a Christmas album entitled A Christmas Gift in 2010, and a worship album entitled Made for Worship which was released in May 2014 as a CD+DVD combo. Its most recent album entitled “By Special Request” was released in June 2018.
Karen Burke, a graduate of McMaster University, the Royal Conservatory of Music and a Professor of music at York University, is the director of the diversified group of singers and musicians along with her husband, Oswald Burke, who is their Executive Producer.
Now 35-strong plus a five-piece band, the not for profit choir consists of adult members who are from various local church denominations including Baptist, Church of God, Wesleyan, Missionary and Pentecostal.
Toronto Mass Choir has appeared on many radio and television broadcasts for stations such as CTS, CBC Radio One, CITY-TV and has been the focus for several television documentaries.
Toronto Mass Choir travels abroad has taken them to several different countries including England, Poland, Romania, Italy and Barbados.
Week #4: Resources
MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr. – “I HAVE A DREAM” SPEECH, August 28, 1963
MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr-“Letter from Birmingham Jail”
The “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, also known as the “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” and “The Negro Is Your Brother”, is an open letter written on April 16, 1963, by Martin Luther King Jr. It says that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws and to take direct action rather than waiting potentially forever for justice to come through the courts.
The Negro National Anthem: “Lift Every Voice and Sing”
By James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) Originally written by Johnson for a presentation in celebration of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. This was originally performed in Jacksonville, Florida, by children.
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” is a hymn with lyrics by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) and set to music by his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954). Written from the context of African Americans in the late 19th century, the hymn is a prayer of thanksgiving as well as a prayer for faithfulness and freedom, with imagery which evokes the biblical Exodus from slavery to the freedom of the “promised land.”
After its first recitation in 1900, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was communally sung within Black communities, while the NAACP began to promote the hymn as a “Negro national anthem” in 1917. It has been featured in 42 different Christian hymnals, and it has also been performed by various African American singers and musicians.
JOHN LEWIS-Former U.S. Representative, Atlanta, Georgia
John Robert Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020) was an American politician and civil rights activist and member of the Democratic Party who served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death 2020.
He participated in the 1960 Nashville sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1963 to 1966, and was one of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington. Fulfilling many key roles in the civil rights movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States, in 1965 Lewis led the first of three Selma to Montgomery marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge where, in an incident which became known as Bloody Sunday, state troopers and police attacked Lewis and the other marchers.
Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lewis
Tami Charles: Writer, Teacher, Speaker.
Tami Charles is a former teacher and full-time author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made it her mission to introduce her students to all types of literature, but especially diverse books.
Her latest book: “WE ARE HERE” PICTURE BOOK (January, 2023) is An empowering follow-up to New York Times bestselling picture book “All Because You Matter” that celebrates the rich history of Black and brown men and women throughout history with soaring language and stunning illustration.
Lyrical, affirmational, and bursting with love, “We Are Here” is a poignant story about Black and brown heritage and community. Full of assurance, tenderness, and triumph, this much-anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestselling picture book, “All Because You Matter”, offers an equally inspirational and arresting ode to all of the Black women and men throughout history who have made momentous contributions from the beginning of time.
Ibram X. Kendi: American author, Anti-Racist Activist, Historian, Professor
Ibram Xolani Kendi, born August 13, 1982 (age 40 years), Jamaica, New York, United States is an American author, professor, anti-racist activist, and historian of race and discriminatory policy in America. In July 2020, he assumed the position of director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. Kendi was included in Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020. His latest book,
“HOW to be a (YOUNG) ANTIRACIST” written with NIC STONE will be published in February, 2023.
Read more about Ibram X. Kendi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibram_X._Kendi
The String Queens (TSQ)
Praised for its authentic, soulful, and orchestral sound, The String Queens (TSQ) is a dynamic trio that creates stimulating musical experiences that inspire diverse audiences to love, hope, feel, and imagine! With an array of repertoire spanning from the Baroque era to the Jazz Age to today’s Billboard Hot 100 Chart, TSQ performs versatile programs that take listeners on a rousing musical journey through time and a multitude of musical genres.
This Washington, D.C.-based trio — violinist Kendall Isadore, violist Dawn Johnson and cellist Élise Sharp — are educators by day and concert performers by night.
Wangarĩ Muta Maathai
Wangarĩ Muta Maathai (/wænˈɡɑːri mɑːˈtaɪ/; 1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011) was a Kenyan social, environmental and a political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. As a beneficiary of the Kennedy Airlift, she studied in the United States, earning a bachelor’s degree from Mount St. Scholastica and a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She went on to become the first woman in East and Central Africa to become a Doctor of Philosophy, receiving her PhD from the University of Nairobi in Kenya.
In 1977, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. In 1984, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for “converting the Kenyan ecological debate into mass action for reforestation”. Maathai was an elected member of the Parliament of Kenya and between January 2003 and November 2005 served as assistant minister for environment and natural resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki. She was an Honorary Councillor of the World Future Council. As an academic and the author of several books, Maathai was not only an activist but also an intellectual who has made significant contributions to thinking about ecology, development, gender, and African cultures and religions.
Maathai died of complications from ovarian cancer on 25 September 2011.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eT98uQ74X1c (The humming bird video)