Five must-see Black History Month events in Toronto

There’s still two weeks left in February to honour and celebrate Black history

February is halfway over, but Black History Month is still going strong. In Toronto, dozens of events celebrating Black lives past and present continue on past the end of the month.

For instance, a number of Toronto galleries have dedicated their exhibits to honouring Black artists. At the ROM, two film installations that display globalization and displacement by British contemporary artist Isaac Julien are on display. At both OCAD Open Gallery and the Gladstone Hotel, photography depicting Black experiences in Canada and globally are on display.

Toronto Public Library continues its BHM programming across branches. Events include art exhibits, films, music and dance workshops as well as presentations geared towards youth.

On stage, a number of plays, including KJ Group’s Dandelions in the Wind at Daniels Spectrum, Coal Mine Theatre’s Superior Donuts and Factory Theatre’s How Black Mothers Say I Love You showcase Black experiences.

In addition to all those events going on, we’ve chosen five Black History Month events that might not be on the radar but are worth checking. They’re all happening in the second half of February, so get out and celebrate Black pride.

Toronto Black Film Festival

The Toronto Black Film Festival takes over Carlton Cinema (20 Carlton) from February 15 to 19. Enjoy screenings of 40 films including features, shorts, documentaries and animation plus, panel discussions, workshops and master classes. The opening night film, Tell Them We Are Rising, is a documentary about historically black colleges and universities in the U.S. Stanley Nelson’s film will be presented by actor Isaiah Washington at the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles West). The festival’s closing film is The Lucky Specials, which follows a small-time cover band in an African mining town. Tickets to all TBFF events range from $10 to $25 and can be purchased online in advance. See listing for details.

Breaking Through: Making Art and Performing While Black

Girl’s Art League and Black Futures Now, a Toronto collective and inclusive digital space for Black girls, presents a talk and dance party at the Fountain (1261 Dundas West) on February 15 from 7 to 11:30 pm. The fundraiser starts with a panel discussion featuring Sedina Fiati, Kim Ninkuru and Gloria Assee, who will share their stories of breaking into the arts in Toronto, including challenges they’ve faced as Black women and genderqueer artists. Tickets are $10 and available online in advance. See website for details.


Toronto artist Ekow Nimako creates sculptures and other types of pieces out of LEGO.

Black Art and Liberation: A Panel Discussion

Join this panel discussion on February 16 featuring four Black artists at the Centre for Social Innovation’s Regent Park location (585 Dundas East). Dainty Smith, Ekow Nimako, Samson Brown and Fania El Mugammar will discuss ways in which they pursue liberation through each of their respective art disciplines. The event is part of a larger series on How to be an ally. The event is free but online registration is recommended. See listing for details.

Modern Day Dad

There are still two chances to catch the screening of Modern Day Dad at Harlem restaurant (67 Richmond East) on February 15 and 22. Helmed by R Flavour founder and CEO Jason Quammie, the film features testimonials, debates and discussions from a range of perspectives, ultimately providing an authentic reflection of Black fatherhood. Tickets are $10 for this all-ages event, and the film starts at 7:30 pm. See listing for details.

Tribute to the Legends of Reggae

Join Ken Boothe, Exco Levi & High Priest, Nana McLean, Chester Miller, Mr Cooper, Hard Core Band and Joshua Lucas for a tribute concert to reggae legends at the Opera House (735 Queen East) on February 25. Hear popular tunes by the likes of Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs and Culture. Tickets are $25 online in advance (and $30 at the door). See listing for details.

For a comprehensive guide to all Black History Month events happening in Toronto, check out NOW’s listings. | @michdas

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