Toronto conference wants to put the future of Black women and non-binary people in focus

“My hope is that other Black women, femmes and gender non-conforming people find community, solidarity and belonging in this space.”


Toronto creatives, community organizers and educators are coming together to produce one of those rare opportunities for Black women and non-binary people to connect.

Beginning at 8 am, at York University Saturday (July 16), everyone, especially those identifying as Black women, youth and gender-nonconforming of all ages, are invited to the Black Futures Now conference, an event whose specific aim is to address the community’s distinct areas of interest.

“As a Black femme, I am excited to support and take part in a conference like this where the enriching knowledge and wisdom of Black women (trans and cis), femmes and gender non-conforming people will be at the centre of every conversation,” queer poet, multimedium artist, activist and educator Lynx Sainte-Marie tells NOW in an email correspondence.

Sainte-Marie, whose visionary work in gender equity,  justice and disability has taken them across the country, served as an advisor to the BFNTO‘s committee. They will be presenting on two BFNTO panels – including Black Arts, Black Magic, a panel sponsored by the Feminist Art Conference featuring black artists of various intersections who will discuss their different artistic practices and their experiences with oppression. 

“My hope is that other Black women, femmes and gender non-conforming people find community, solidarity and belonging in this space,” says Sainte-Marie, who tells NOW that their work is inspired by “the brilliance and magic of other racialized people.”

It was out of a desire to provide space to openly discuss these issues – a need often overlooked by the hundreds of community-based conferences taking place across the city annually – that BFNTO founder Adwoa Atta Afful started organizing the event.

“With movements like Black Lives Matter and other student activist movements, it’s been really great seeing Black people make space for themselves to talk about issues in a way that they want to talk about them. And bring up things that are not necessarily going to be a concern to mainstream audiences but may affect our communities much more deeply than is appreciated,” says Afful, whose excitement is palpable during our phone conversation.  “I see our conference as adding to that.”

The full day event takes place at the TEL building (88 The Pond) and will feature programming with themes focusing on community building, identity and media representation. (Full disclosure: I was asked to participate).

Participants are also invited to attend coding and art workshops and panels like Community and Solidarity Building Across Feminist and Social Justice Communities of Colour with activist Teddy Syrette from Pride Toronto.  

Keynote speakers include CBC’s Amanda Parris, host of Exhibitionists and writer, journalist and activist Huda Hassan.

 For more info and tickets.

shantalo@nowtoronto.com | @Shantal_Ot

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