Resources by Black Creators to Celebrate, Educate & Advocate

Fresh Restaurants: Black Heritage and History Month

Illustration by Seita via Shutterstock

To celebrate Black Heritage and History Month, we have compiled a selection of websites, movies, videos, books, podcasts, and more for our teams at Fresh to engage with as one way to learn about the Black experience. We hope that by sharing this, you may find this list useful too!

These resources can be continually referred to for ideas and suggestions on how to diversify your social media feeds, or for your next book club or movie night picks, or when you need a new favourite podcast to subscribe to.

We always remember that Black heritage and history must be celebrated at all times, not just in February and are committed to continuing educating ourselves on the subject of antiracism.


To Support

Support Black businesses, entrepreneurs & creators

 

To Follow

A short list of Black icons, influencers, creators and change agents to follow on social media to diversity your feed

 

 


To Learn

Black history organizations and educational resources

 

Ontario Black History Society 

The Ontario Black History Society is a non-profit registered Canadian charity dedicated to the study, preservation and promotion of Black history and heritage. 

Ontario Heritage Trust | Slavery to Freedom 

The Ontario Heritage Trust celebrates Black heritage, promotes Ontario’s Black heritage sites and groups, and provides online information and resources. Of note is the Slavery to Freedom web resource. 

Being Black in Canada | CBC 

A window into the celebration and struggles of Canada’s Black community featuring the stories and experiences of Black Canadians, highlighting narratives that matter to Black communities. 

Black in Canada 10 Stories | BBC News 

Inspired by the many Black writers and speakers who have begun to spark a broader discussion about race in Canada, Jalani Morgan travels to three Canadian cities to capture a slice of the Black experience today. 

The Incredible Black Canadian Women You Should Know 

A showcase of Canadian Black women who deserve to be known this February and every month!

Periodic Table of Canadian Black History 

The Periodic Table of Canadian Black History is a tool that educators, students, and families can use to explore and celebrate the stories, voices, and accomplishments of Black Canadians.


To Listen

 

Radio Canada International | Portraits of Black Canadians 

Radio Canada International has produced a series of vignettes spotlighting some of the Black Canadians that have marked the country’s past, as well as those that are marking Canada’s present. 

Snow-Job: Why is Black Slavery “Whited Out” in Canadian History?

by George Elliott Clarke Poet George Elliott Clarke explores the question- Why is it common knowledge that we saved runaway slaves from the United States, but few know that Africans and Indigenous peoples were bought, sold and exploited, right here in Canada? How was slavery allowed to continue for some 200 years, yet be one of the least talked-about aspects of our shared history? 

The Secret Life of Canada | The Province of Jamaica 

This episode we take a look at early Caribbean migration to Canada and reveal which islands could have become Canadian provinces. We also dive into the history of Black railway porters and how they made Winnipeg a hub of labour activism. 

The Secret Life of Canada | Crash Course on Black nurses 

In this episode we look into the surprisingly young history of Black nurses in Canada and why many of these women had to travel to the U.S. for their education. We also look at the Black Cross Nurses and how Black nurses went from shutouts to leaders in a matter of decades. 

Cityline Real | On Race hosted by Tracy Moore 

In a space dedicated to advancing the conversation of race relations in Canada, host Tracy Moore tackles important discussions on race and inequality in Canadian society, with the goal of bringing about impactful change. 

Black Tea with Dalton Higgins & Melayna Williams 

Toronto is a multicultural hotspot, but the diversity that makes the city special isn’t often reflected in the stories we hear and the discussions we have. Dalton Higgins and Melayna Williams bring important and uncomfortable Black community conversations out in the open, and have some laughs while doing it. 

Seat At The Table 

Friends Martine St-Victor and Isabelle Racicot have in-depth conversations with notable guests from media, sports and pop culture. They capture personal stories about the power of the Black Lives Matter movement, the urgency of this moment, and what it will take to move forward. 

Woke or Whateva 

Black women talking their sh*t.” Rebecca Joachim and Tihitina Semahu read, analyze, and deconstruct concepts of race. Also on YouTube.


To Watch

 

Canadian collections  – all free! 

21 Black Futures | Obsidian Theatre & CBC 

21 BLACK FUTURES is an anthology of 21 films, commissioned from 21 multigenerational Black playwrights across Canada directed by 21 Black directors and performed by 21 Black actors! 21 BLACK FUTURES responds to the question, “What is the future of Blackness?” 

28 Moments of Black Canadian History 

When it comes to Black Canadian History, what do you know? 28 Moments features Black youth speaking about their experiences in Canada, their goals, aspirations, and interests and then giving a small history lesson on an important moment or figure in Black Canadian history. 

50 Years of Black Activism | Ryerson University 

Five documentaries by five women directors that highlight the legacies of Gwen and Lenny Johnston, Rosie Douglas, Charles Roach, Dudley Laws and Marlene Green. 

NFB: 29 Free Films from Black Communities in Canada 

A free collection of 29 films by award-winning Black filmmakers, creators, and allies that portray the multi-layered lives of Canada’s diverse Black communities. These stories of strength, courage and perseverance are missing from mainstream history books, yet they each paint a picture of a thriving part of our society in constant evolution. 

 

Canadian short videos, films & documentaries – all free! 

Africville: The Black community bulldozed by the city of Halifax | Historica Canada 

Africville was an African-Canadian village located in Nova Scotia and founded in the mid-18th century. Demolished in the 1960s by Halifax in what many believe was an act of racism. For many, Africville represents ongoing oppressions faced by Black Canadians, and the efforts to right historical wrongs.

A Revolution of Love | Awakenings for Toronto History Museums 

This short film follows a young Black woman as she grapples with the histories of her ancestors, and the violence ravaging her community as she imagines what her future looks like through dance.

Deeply Rooted | CBC Short Docs 

Filmmaker Cazhhmere is a 7th-generation Black Canadian. Despite this deep history, she’s constantly asked “Where are you from?”, even though the answer is always “Canada.” In this film, Cazhhmere sets out to change our perception of what a multi-generational Canadian family looks like.

Freedom Summer | CBC Short Docs 

In Freedom Summer, Black youth in Toronto learn about self-love and Black liberation at ‘Freedom School’, a summer camp run by Black Lives Matter where Black kids learn that Black is beautiful.

The Haircut | CBC Short Docs 

The story of Marvin who, growing up in Ottawa in the 1950s with no Black barbers in the city, suffered through many painful haircuts. A funny and refreshing take on the Canadian immigrant story, plus an exploration of assimilation and resistance through the portrait of one man’s refusal to cut his hair.

Lessons Injustice | CBC Short Docs 

How does a parent prepare their maturing child for the specific scrutiny that comes with navigating the world while Black? For Black Canadians like Danardo Jones and his son Deshaun, the reality of systemic racism means that the system is rigged against them.

 

Canadian full length dramas & documentaries – all free! 

Across The Line 

This film tells the story of a young Black hockey player from Preston, Nova Scotia, who dreams of going to the NHL. But simmering racial tensions at his school — and an older brother’s involvement in illegal activities — threaten his future. 

Long Road to Justice – The Viola Desmond Story 

In 1946, Viola Desmond stood up against a racially segregated movie theatre in Nova Scotia. Her courageous stand, 9 years before Rosa Parks’ action, was a seminal event in Canada’s civil rights movement. 

Mr. Jane and Finch 

Winston LaRose, an 80-year-old community activist, inspires the Toronto community of Jane and Finch to challenge the traditional powers as he runs for political office for the first time. 

Too Colourful For the League: Racism in Hockey 

A documentary about the history of racism in hockey, chronicling a crusade by NCAA hockey great Richard Lord to nominate Black superstar Herb Carnegie to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Skin We’re In: Pulling back the curtain on racism in Canada – CBC Docs POV 

Urgent, controversial, and undeniably honest, The Skin We’re In is a wake-up call to complacent Canadians. This is Cole’s journey from journalist to activist, unfolding in real time. We follow Cole as he travels across Canada in pursuit of stories, examples, and knowledge about black identities and experiences. 

 

Documentaries (American-based) 

13TH on Netflix 

In this thought-provoking documentary, scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom, by taking an in-depth look at the prison system and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality. 

Time: The Kalief Browder Story on Netflix 

This series traces the tragic case of Kalief Browder, a Black Bronx teen who spent three long and horrific years in jail, despite not being convicted of a crime. 

Trial 4 on Netflix 

Charged as a teen in the 1993 killing of a Boston cop, Sean K. Ellis fights to prove his innocence while exposing police corruption and systemic racism. 

 

Based on a true story (American-based) 

Fruitvale Station 

Based on the events leading to the death of 22 year old Oscar Grant, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008 before being killed by local transit police.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix 

Tensions and temperatures rise at a Chicago music studio in 1927 when fiery, fearless blues singer Ma Rainey joins her band for a recording session. 

Roxanne Roxanne on Netflix 

She grew up in a tough New York neighborhood in the ’80s and made history with “Roxanne’s Revenge.” The story of teen battle rap champ Roxanne Shanté.

Selma on Netflix 

In the face of violent racist attacks, Martin Luther King Jr. leads a protest in Alabama that culminates in a historic march from Selma to Montgomery. 

When They See Us on Netflix 

Five teens from Harlem become trapped in a nightmare when they’re falsely accused of a brutal attack in Central Park. Based on a true story. 

 

Comedy, drama, horror, rom-com (American-based) 

Atlantics on Netflix 

Arranged to marry a rich man, young Ada is crushed when her true love goes missing at sea during a migration attempt — until a miracle reunites them. 

Dear White People on Netflix 

An American comedy-drama television series that follows Black college students touching on issues surrounding modern American race relations. Based on the 2014 film of the same name.

Dope on Netflix 

A studious teen trying to survive in a rough L.A. neighborhood accepts an invitation to an underground party and begins a life-changing adventure. 

Get Out 

Funny, scary, thought-provoking and deeply unsettling, Get Out seamlessly weaves its social critiques into a brilliantly effective and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride. 

Girls Trip 

Four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans where sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make you blush.

His House on Netflix 

As a young couple from war-torn South Sudan seeks asylum and a fresh start in England, they’re tormented by a sinister force living in their new home. 

Moonlight 

A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood. 

Soul 

Pixar Animation. After landing the gig of a lifetime, a New York jazz pianist suddenly finds himself trapped in a strange land between Earth and the afterlife. 

The Hate U Give 

Starr Carter is a 16-year-old American girl who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer and now, must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.

The Weekend on Netflix 

A comedian’s weekend trip to her mom’s country B&B takes awkward turns when her ex, his new girlfriend, and a handsome stranger join the getaway.

 


To Read 

*** Consider purchasing your books from A Different Booklist in Toronto, an African-Canadian owned bookstore showcasing the literature of the African and Caribbean diaspora, the global south and all the major publishers and independents.

The Toronto Public Library has many books, e-books and audiobooks available for loan. A great option for audiobooks is Libro.fm, which makes it possible for you to buy audiobooks through your local independent bookstore! 

 

Essential contemporary anti-racist readings (American-based) 

Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

Hood Feminism: notes from the women that a movement forgot by Mikki Kendall 

How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi 

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad 

Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi 

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oulo 

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge 

 

Canadian non-fiction 

Angry Queer Somali Boy by Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali 

A memoir about a young man who left Somalia and ended up houseless in Canada, the ‘promised land’. But when he didn’t fit in and life was more difficult than he expected, Ali turned to drugs and partying before finding his way. 

BlackLife Post-BLM and the Struggle For Freedom by Rinaldo Walcott & Idil Abdillahi

This book posits that violence and the destruction of Black life and culture has been an acceptable collateral damage. The book maintains that a ‘rethink’ is needed to enable a new reality for Black Canadians. 

Black Writers Matter edited by Whitney French 

An anthology of creative nonfiction by Black writers in Canada. This book chronicles the multiplicity of the Black experience while affirming not only that Black lives matter, but also that Black writing matters The beauty of this collection lies in the way that Black lives are shown, rather than written about and here we have a collection of voices we don’t often hear from. 

Dear Current Occupant by Chelene Knight 

A memoir about home and belonging set in the 1980-90s of Vancouver. From blurry memories of trying to fit in with her own family as the only mixed East Indian/black child, to crystal clear recollections, Knight draws a vivid portrait of memory that still longs for a place and a home.

In the Black by B. Denham Jolly 

A memoir documenting the overt racism and discrimination that author B. Denham Jolly endured while establishing a business in 1950s Toronto. Those experiences led Jolly to engage in social activism and to found the first Black-owned FM radio station in the city, Flow 93.5.

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robin Maynard

Policing Black Lives traces the violent realities of anti-Blackness from slave ships to prisons, classrooms and beyond. This the first comprehensive account of nearly 400 years of state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization and punishment of Black bodies and lives in Canada. 

Queer Returns by Rinaldo Walcott 

Essays looking at the categories of “queer and Black” and “Black queer” through the lens of multiculturalism and Canadian identity. The essay collection reflects on how capitalism, colonialism and sexual identity intersect and shape culture, politics and Black expression.

Shame on Me by Tessa McWatt 

A memoir about identity, race and belonging by someone who spent a lot of time trying to find an answer to the question, “Who are you?” and who has endured decades of racism and bigotry while trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs. 

The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole 

Puncturing the bubble of Canadian smugness and naive assumptions of a post-racial nation, Cole chronicles a year of the struggle against racism in this country. 

They Said This Would Be Fun by Eternity Martis 

A memoir about the difficulty of navigating through white spaces as a student of colour, asking the reader to confront the systemic issues that define the college experience for racialized and marginalized students. 

Until We Are Free edited by Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson and Syrus Marcus Ware

This collection of writing and photographs explores issues facing the Black community in Canada in light of the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, describing latest developments in Canadian Black activism, organizing efforts through social media, Black-Indigenous alliances, and more. 

 

Poetry 

How She Read by Chantal Gibson 

A collection poems about the representation of Black women in Canada. Having lived on the East and West coasts, Gibson brings a holistic, decolonized approach to challenging imperialist ideas by way of a close look at Canadian literature, history, art, media and pop culture. 

I Have To Live by Aisha Sasha John 

This is what poetry can become when stripped of prettiness and polite convention—when in survival mode. Spontaneous, its subjects unposed, its language unrehearsed, each poem has the effect of being taken with a polaroid camera. 

Black Notes edited by Althea Prince 

This collection contains stories and poems written by twenty Black women and girls. The storytelling crosses local, national, and international cultural sensibilities, giving the reader a glimpse of the way the storytellers receive and share.

 

Canadian Fiction: including sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, historical non-fiction 

Brother by David Chariandy 

This novel questions masculinity, family, race, and identity as they play out in a Scarborough housing complex during the summer of 1991. Chariandy crafts a timely story about the profound love that exists between brothers and the senseless loss of lives cut short with the shot of a gun.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson 

Set in 2049 Toronto, after the city has experienced an economic collapse and becomes overrun by poverty and violence, this is a tale filled with magic, mystery and folklore and an unforgettable Black protagonist. 

Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall by Suzette Mayr 

This novel combines an academic setting with classic horror elements. Dr. Edith Vane, a scholar of English literature, is dealing with the publication of her dissertation, backstabbing colleagues and a haunted office building to boot. 

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis 

The gods Hermes and Apollo place a wager over pints in Toronto’s Wheat Sheaf Tavern and 15 dogs are given the “gift” of human intelligence. What unfolds is a powerful story about what it means to have consciousness, and the good and the bad that comes with it. 

Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta 

This series of 12 stories follows Kara Davis through elementary school to her high school graduation, as she comes of age while being caught between her Canadian nationality and Jamaican heritage. 

No Crystal Stair by Mairuth Sarsfield 

This novel tells the story of a young widow trying to raise three daughters and earn a decent living on her own. Set in Montreal in the mid-1940s, is a compelling story of ambition, love and a tightly-knit Black community that must contend with the subtle racism of Canadian society.

Reproduction by Ian Williams 

A hilarious and moving family saga set in Brampton. Felicia, a teenager who recently immigrated from the Caribbean, and Edgar, the heir of a wealthy German family more than twice her age, form an unlikely relationship that will forever leave them entangled. 

Shut Up You’re Pretty by Téa Nutonji 

A short fiction collection that uses sharp prose and imagery to tell stories and explore narratives of young women coming of age in the 21st century. 

The Alchemists of Kush by Minister Faust 

This novel tells two parallel stories of young boys whose lives are transformed, for better or worse, through unlikely mentors. The Edmonton-based author’s book explores the lives of Somali and Sudanese youth in North America. 

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan 

Enslaved 11-year-old George Washington “Wash” Black, works on a Barbados sugar plantation and winds up as the servant to an eccentric inventor who also happens to be an abolitionist. Using a hot-air balloon to escape, Wash’s long journey to a safer life begins. 

What We All Long For by Dionne Brand 

The lives of four 20-somethings living on the margins of Toronto intersect in this immersive novel, a richly rendered portrait of urban experience, luminously vivid in both its characterization and setting.