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Black History Month at the Y: Recognizing and Celebrating Those Who Pave the Way

20 January 2022 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto

Each February at the Y, we proudly recognize Black History Month and acknowledge the contributions of Black people who have uplifted and paved the way for their communities.

This year, as well as recognizing Black history, we are looking ahead to Black future. Our theme for 2022 Black History Month is:

"Black History/Black Future: Recognizing and Celebrating Those Who Pave the Way"

This February, we are proud to recognize Black people working tirelessly to combat systemic barriers and promote equitable outcomes for Black youth and future generations.

At the Y, Black employees are making a positive impact through programming and advocacy. The Y supports Black communities to reach their full potential, take leadership roles, engage, open doors to shine in their own way in a dominant white environment.

  • Black Achievers Mentorship Program brings together youth ages 14 to 19 with Black mentors and role models within their community, with the goal of helping youth develop socially and academically. This program began in Scarborough neighbourhoods, and we aim to expand it to other parts of the Greater Toronto Area.
  • The Shane Stanford Youth Bursary honours the late Shane Stanford, a beloved employee at the Y who worked as an individual conditioning specialist. This bursary provides one Black youth community leader with $2,000 to further their post-secondary education.
  • Black Experience Staff Advisory Committee is made up of Black-identifying employees who create opportunities for education and training for Y staff and the broader community, and advise on removing barriers and creating equitable outcomes for Black employees, members, and participants.
  • Partnership with KOJO Institute We have partnered with the KOJO Institute to conduct an equity and anti-black racism review as input to our work on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This review will focus on our internal practices across our charity and help us understand how our policies and culture are being experienced by employees.

Advocating for Black communities is as much a part of our present as it is a part of our history. Our hope is that the advocacy work we do today can inspire and inform future generations of Black youth to become leaders themselves.

The Y’s Black Experience Staff Advisory Committee exist alongside other staff committees at the Y, including the Pride committee, and the Indigenous Reconciliation working group. No one perfectly fits into a single category — an intersectional approach to diversity means that we can be better seen and understood and lift up individuals in all their complexities. When we lift one community, we lift up members of other communities who identify with them too.


Please join us at the following events which are open to all.

Event NameDate and TimeDescription
Cultural Talent ShowFebruary 4, 2022
1 pm–2:30 pm
A day to showcase and celebrate the unique skills and talents of Black people through music, art, poetry, dance, instruments etc. This event highlights two worlds: those who have come before us and those who are leading the way ahead.

The cultural talent show will feature the work of:
  • Singer Saraphina Knight
  • Aaron Ridge R&B Singer-Songwriter
  • Gabrielle Cohen Poet- Spoken words
  • Ngoma Dance & Drum Ensemble
  • Earl La Pierre Jr Know as the Extraordinary Steel Panist (ESP)

RSVP here or join the live event here.
Untold Stories: Conversation With Kerwin Liverpool: Past, Present, and Future of Education for Black Youth February 7, 2022

6:30 pm–7:30 pm
A discussion about past, present and future of education for Black Youth. Empowering staff and parents working with students.
Register here.
Black Professional Trailblazers: Making a difference and paving the wayFebruary 25, 2022

4pm–5:30 pm
A cultural celebration and recognition for Black professional trailblazers and Black youth who are making a difference in the Black community and paving the way for a younger generation. Learn their personal stories, achievements and accomplishments, and be ready to be motivated and inspired by their words of wisdom.
Register here.

We are grateful for the generous support of Advica Health which helped make this event possible!

Advica Health

Need accommodations to participate due to a disability? Email: Have questions? Email


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