TTC celebrating Black History Month

MOVING LEGACIES: Celebrating Black innovation and resistance in Ontario

The TTC has partnered with Astrosankofa Arts Initiatives and is proud to highlight unique works of art by Adeyemi "Yung Yem Adegbesan, Autumn Beals, Kanisha Dabreo, Danilo “Deluxo” McCallum, Meighan Morson, Komi Olaf, Quentin VerCetty and Troydell Wallace, in honour of Black History Month.

Their pieces feature key Black contributors who have played an important role in Ontario politics, education, infrastructure and industry over the years.

Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Human rights activist, teacher, lawyer and one of the first Black female newspaper publishers in Canada, The Provincial Freeman, around 1853.

Art by: Yung Yemi (@YungYemi) 
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

Lucie and Thornton Blackburn

Abolitionist and philanthropist couple created Toronto’s first taxi cab company called The City around 1837. 

Art by: Quentin VerCetty (@KEEPGROWINGQ) 
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

Stanley Grizzle

A railway porter, veteran, activist for Black Canadian rights and civil servant who became the first Black Canadian citizenship Judge in 1977. 

Art by: Yung Yemi (@YungYemi) 
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

Kay Blair

A community leader who undertook groundbreaking advocacy work for women and immigrants. She was the founder of the first Women’s Enterprise and Resource Centre. 

Art by: Meighan Morson (@emelle_arts) 
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

Elijah McCoy

Inventor of a lubrication system for steam engines in 1872. Also invented a folding ironing board, a lawn sprinkler and held 57 other patents.

Art by: Danilo Deluxo (@DaniloDeluxo) 
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

Kathleen "Kay" Livingstone

A social activist, actor and broadcaster. In 1973, her efforts led to the first National Congress of Black Women of Canada. 

Art by: Autumn Beals 
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

Mary and Henry Bibb

Organizers of the North American Convention of Colored Freemen in 1851 and creators of the abolitionist newspaper, The Voice of the Fugitive. 

Art by: Komi Olaf (@KomiOlaf) 
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

Beverly Mascoll

Founded one of Canada’s largest distributors of haircare and beauty products for Black women in 1970 – Mascoll Beauty LTD. – which grew into a multi-million dollar company.

Art by: Troydel Wallace (@Troy_dell)
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

Reverend Mabel Adeline "Addy" Aylestock

Activist and community worker, she became the first Black woman to be ordained in Canada at the British Methodist Episcopal Church in 1951. 

Art by: Meighan Morson (@emelle_arts) 
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

Joshua Glover

A freedom seeker who became a beloved community member. Renowned for his landscape work in Etobicoke, he became one of the first documented Black homeowners in the area around 1860. 

Art by: Quentin VerCetty (@KEEPGROWINGQ) 
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

William Hubbard

An inventor of a commercial baker’s oven, he became Toronto’s first Black alderman in 1884. He helped to establish the Toronto Hydro-Electric System (now Toronto Hydro). 

Art by: Kanisha Dabreo (@ArtisticPerceptionCa) 
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

Frederick Hubbard

A pioneer in public transit, he was the first Black general manager for the Toronto Street Railway from 1906 to 1921. He went on to become the first Black chair of the TTC in 1929. 

Art by: Kanisha Dabreo (@ArtisticPerceptionCa) 
Designed and curated by: AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives

About Astrosankofa Arts Initiatives

Astrosankofa Arts Initiatives explores the connection to the past, present and future through the West African concept, sankofa. The practice of this is called “Sankofanology”. Sankofanology is at the heart of the work of the organization as it relates to Afrofuturism, which centres stories and practices towards the healing, growth, evolution and exponential potential of people of African descent. The organization is instrumental in highlighting creatives and providing opportunities for Black artists to share their pieces within various community settings.

The map shown in the background of each image, is the Toronto archival map of the early 1900s. It is meant to give a contrast to the development of Toronto that we know today. The map is inverted to represent the Black “inverted” and introspective perspective on the often underappreciated and under recognized side of Toronto’s history that is owed a lot of its development to Black leaders we are highlighting.

Ride and Find Guide
Download our Ride & Find Guide to discover the artists, artwork and landmarks celebrating Black legacies in Ontario. 

Artist profiles:

Adeyemi “Yung Yemi” Adegbesan

Portrait of Yung Yemi

Yung Yemi is a Toronto-based multi-disciplinary artist whose practice aims to examine the intersectionality of Black identity. Reflecting on Black culture ideologies from pre-colonial, colonial, present day and future timelines; across regions, religions, varying levels of invoice and political lines, Yung Yemi examines the dichotomy of the richness of Black experiences with the imposed societal homogeneity of ‘Blackness’. Through his work, Yung Yemi pulls from these varying elements to create Afrofuturistic portraits that embody themes of history, fantasy, speculative futures, and spirituality.

Autumn Beals

Portrait of Autumn Beals

Autumn Beals is an oral historian and visual artist. She holds a BA in Honours Public History and Minor in Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality from Concordia University. Her interests and work explore the social and cultural histories of marginalized communities in nineteenth to twentieth century North America, focusing on the intersectionality of race, sexuality and gender in these experiences. She hopes to continue engaging with the diverse and rich histories of these communities through oral, digital and visual forms of storytelling and practice.

Kanisha Dabreo

Portrait of Kanisha Dabreo

Multi-disciplinary artist and digital designer Kanisha Dabreo has been exploring her creative expression for the last 5 years, with a background in marketing and web development. She is interested in the different ways to connect and inspire through visual communication. Kanisha Dabreo is one of the first artists to be a part of the AstroSankofa artist roster for the collective and works contractually as the organization’s Web 3 project manager.

Danilo Deluxo McCallum

Portrait of Danilo Deluxo

Danilo Deluxo is an award-winning Toronto Multidisciplinary Artist, Graphic Designer, Muralist and Cultural Curator. His creative practice explores the multiplicities of Black identity through the lens of Afrofuturism.

Meighan Morson

Portrait of Meighan Morson

Meighan Morson is a digital Afrofuturistic painter that primarily works with the human figure. Employing the use of high contrast, light and form, she creates strong, otherworldly and ethereal beings. She also writes poetry and short fiction.

Komi Olaf

Portrait of Komi Olaf

Komi Olaf is a visual artist, poet and architectural designer who is best known for his ability to represent, both visually and poetically, the complexities of the world and generation he finds himself within. In recent years, Komi’s art has been shaped by a cultural and artistic movement known as Afrofuturism, which explores African and African diasporic cultures in intersection with technology.

Quentin VerCetty

Portrait of Quentin VerCetty

As a multi-award winning interdisciplinary creative, Quentin VerCetty is also one of the world’s leading Afrofuturist a-r-tographers (artist-researcher-teacher practitioner). Creator of Toronto’s first monument of a person of African descent, entitled Stepping Forward into History, which is a memorial to freedom seeker Joshua Glover, he is also the first artist to be commissioned by Carnegie Hall Foundation creating their Afrofuturism festival branding. Additionally, Quentin VerCetty is the founder and steward of the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM) Canada and the founder and artistic producer of AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives.

Troydel Wallace

Portrait of Troydel Wallace

Troydel Wallace is a Jamaican born Toronto-based digital and visual artist whose passion is fueled by his desire to inspire change and impact lives by staying true to his art style, and his mission to showcase the beauty and value of the African Community on a whole. Troydel’s drive is propelled by his conviction that he was called to be an artist through his intense fascination with the Afro Futurism art style, Afro Punk aesthetics and his Caribbean cultural influence. Troydel’s gold themed art style creates visual metaphors that celebrates the beauty and value in the African aesthetics, culture, and its people.

Over the course of 2023, we will be recognizing several important awareness days and months, as part of our comprehensive diversity program. Stay tuned for more information.

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