Canada History Week 2023

5 Jennifer Hodge de Silva Richard Amos Ball Jackie Shane Oscar Peterson Portia White An animation virtuoso of Caribbean descent, Andre Barnwell is a graduate of Sheridan College with over fifteen years of experience as a character designer, layout artist, and animator. His journey has spanned across Canada, and his work has left an indelible mark on global brands. Recognized with a coveted Webby Award, Andre’s animations are a testament to his dedication and innovative prowess. He is an artist who not only celebrates his heritage but also reshapes the very essence of animation. Joe Trouillot Joe Trouillot began his musical career at an early age, and the public discovered and was captivated by his enchanting, voluptuous voice. He soon became one of the most popular singers of his generation. In 1957, he and other members of the Issa El Saieh Orchestra toured Europe, and it was in Italy that he composed Oro basso, one of his most famous pieces. In 1961, at the invitation of Carlo D’Orléan-Juste, owner of Le Perchoir d’Haïti, Trouillot moved to Montreal. Le Perchoir d’Haïti was a meeting place for the Haitian community who had fled the dictatorship of François Duvalier. The nightclub was an important cultural centre for poets, intellectuals, writers, and musicians of Haitian and Quebec origin. In Montreal, Trouillot was passionate and dedicated, and took to the stage for the last time at the age of 91, ending a career that spanned more than 6 decades and nearly 300 compositions in 5 languages. He died in Montreal at age 93. Jennifer Hodge de Silva was a pioneering filmmaker in the 1970s and 80s, and the first Black filmmaker to work consistently with the National Film Board and the CBC. Her documentaries, including her signature film, Home Feeling: Struggle for a Community (1983), explored complex social conditions in Canada, and is widely taught in film studies programs across the country. A minister of the British Methodist Episcopal Church, music was part and parcel of Richard Amos Ball’s family life as well as his religion. He and his wife, their children, and their grandchildren, all sang and played instruments. This activity led to the formation of the Ball Family Jubilee Singers. Ball was the choral conductor of this gospel-music group, which achieved fame in the United States and Canada where it toured several times. Black Canadian Theatre Black theatre groups have existed since the early 19th century in Vancouver and Halifax and in small communities such as Ontario’s North Buxton and Amherstburg. The first Black theatre group to achieve broad success was the Negro Theatre Guild in Montreal in 1942, with their production of Marc Connelly’s The Green Pastures. The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the formation of several Black theatre companies. Emerging in 1968, Montreal’s Black Theatre Workshop (BTW) is Canada’s oldest extant Black professional theatre company. BTW’s premiere production was How Now Black Man, by Montreal writer Lorris Elliot. Refashioning Canada Black Canadian fashion entrepreneurs like Paul Cornish and Winston Kong might not be household names today, but they broke down barriers in Toronto’s fashion scene in the 1970s and 80s. Many of these fashion trailblazers came from the wave of Caribbean immigration to Canada in the 1960s. These designers, their fashions, and their aesthetics created opportunities for Black models to appear in major publications, while also broadening Canada’s fashion silhouette to include people of African descent. DID YOU KNOW? Jackie Shane was a pioneering transgender performer who was a prominent figure in Toronto’s R&B scene in the 1960s. Shane played to sold-out nightclubs in Toronto, such as the Saphire Tavern, and appeared on local music TV shows. On 23 June 2023, the City of Toronto marked the beginning of Pride weekend by officially declaring it Jackie Shane Day. Widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, Oscar Peterson was renowned for his remarkable speed and dexterity, meticulous and ornate technique, and dazzling, swinging style. A noted jazz educator and advocate for racial equality, Peterson won a Juno Award and eight Grammy Awards. He appeared on more than 200 albums by other artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, and Louis Armstrong. In the 1940s, contralto Portia White was celebrated as Canada’s singing sensation. In spite of the racism she faced, White became the first Black Canadian concert singer to win international acclaim. A native of Nova Scotia, she was considered one of the best classical contraltos of the 20th century. Shear Style From press and curls to Afros and dreadlocks, Black hairstyling has undergone many changes through the decades. Kemeel Azan was drawn to Black women’s hair care when he came to Canada in the 1950s and noticed that many Black Caribbean women who worked as domestics had very few hair care options. At one point Azan had four salons, but eventually Beauty World was consolidated into one location in Toronto. From the time of enslavement until the 1950s and 60s, Black women in Canada often worked as domestics, one of the limited roles available to them. Many Black Caribbean women came to Canada through the West Indian Domestic Scheme. These women made significant contributions to Canadian society, and helped build thriving Caribbean communities in Toronto and Montreal. Towards the Future B L A C K C A N A D I A N S T O D A Y Lawrence Hill As one of the most poignant contributors to Black Canadian culture, Lawrence Hill, an author and essayist, is a storyteller who has inspired and educated the masses about the historical Black narrative in Canada through his exploration of race, identity, and slavery in his literary works - most notably in his international best seller The Book of Negroes. VIDEO ILLUSTRATOR 4 CULTURAL INFLUENCERS Richard Amos Ball (Carol Ball, St. Catharines Museum, T2008.16.9) Toronto choreographer and designer Ola Skanks wears a boldly patterned jumpsuit in the 1970s (Dance Collection Danse/Kennedy) Montreal tap dancer Ethel Bruneau with a pixie haircut as she performs with partner Nathan Alonzo circa 1953 (Ethel Bruneau) Jennifer Hodge de Silva (photo and copyright Ron Watts, TIFF Film Reference Library) Jackie Shane mural (Harrison Panabaker/Historica Canada) Oscar Peterson at the piano (Library and Archives Canada) Yousuf Karsh’s portrait of Portia White, January 1946 (Yousuf Karsh / Library and Archives Canada / PA192783) Lawrence Hill (Hungry Eyes Media)