Benches named to honour key Caribbean and Afro-Canadian leaders

Two Toronto artists and long-time partners of Harbourfront Centre led a community fund-raising campaign to dedicate benches in Ontario Square. Itah Sadu and Miguel San Vicente of A Different Booklist wanted to honour Caribbean and African-Canadian community members, cultural workers, activists and senior artists in Toronto. They felt it was important to be recognized at an arts hub that had hosted and welcomed these people and communities and their artforms, enabling them to participate in culture and share their community stories.

Toronto’s black communities have been involved with Harbourfront Centre since the beginning! In the early ’70s, our site hosted the first Caribana Festival, an event affiliated with the popular parade that began in the ’60s.

On Monday, November 10, the following benches were dedicated:

Celebrating Afropan Steelband
Canada’s steelpan pioneers
On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago

Recognizing Zanana Akande
Educator, Leader and Friend to many communities
Thank you.

In Celebration of Dr. Pamela Appelt
Patron of the Arts

Saluting Salome Bey Queen of Jazz & Blues
& Howard Matthews Cultural Pioneer

In Tribute to Ayanna Black, Poet, Advocate

Austin Clarke – Legacy
African Canadian Literary Pioneer
Dedicated by The Government of Barbados

In Celebration of Dr. Rita Cox
Patron of the Arts

In Celebration of Kamala -Jean Gopie
Patron of the Arts

In Celebration of Dr. Althea Prince,
Canadian Literary Pioneer

In celebration of George Randolph
Founder of the Randolph School of the Performing Arts

A tribute to Charles and Hetty Roach
Caribana Pioneers 1967

In Celebration of Sandra Whiting
Cultural Animator & Programmer

This is an initiative to recognize living legacies in the communities, apart from the two individuals who have passed on. The names serve to inspire younger generations to learn more about these leaders and the impact they each have had in their communities, at Harbourfront Centre and on our city. As Sadu said to the gathering who attending the bench-naming event, “Please go sit on the benches and bask in the warm embrace of these important people!”