Series offers perspective on Black history

A piece of art by Quentin Vercetty.
Art by Quentin VerCetty, one of the presenters at the Art of Resistance series, hosted by the deacons of Parkdale-West Toronto deanery. The series is available on the diocese’s YouTube channel. series is available on the diocese’s YouTube channel.
 on May 30, 2024
Quentin Vercetty

Daytrips planned to historic sites

Over the past year, Anglicans in the diocese were invited to participate in the Art of Resistance, a series of online sessions exploring Black history in Canada. The six-part series offered a unique perspective on the Black Canadian experience, through presentations by artists Pat McNeilly, Dwayne Morgan, Henry Gomez, Teajai Travis, Roger Gibbs and Quentin VerCetty. The presenters shared how their chosen artforms, from calypso music, spoken word and playwriting to sculpture and other visual arts, express a challenge to oppression and discrimination, as well as embodying a vision of a future where Black people, their stories and gifts are valued and celebrated.

Each session was accompanied by background materials outlining aspects of Black history in Canada that are not as widely known as they might be – from the founding of Black settlements in Nova Scotia and rural Ontario after the American Revolution and the War of 1812, to the struggles of railway porters organizing for fair labour conditions in the 20th century.

The series was the brainchild of the Rev. Canon Claudette Taylor, vocational deacon of Epiphany and St. Mark, Parkdale and the social justice offices for the former episcopal area of York-Credit Valley. It was planned and hosted with the deacons of Parkdale-West Toronto Deanery, along with graphic artist Susan Rynasko and Elin Goulden, the diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy consultant. The group had previously collaborated on A Reconciliation Walk, a similar series exploring Indigenous-settler relationships, held in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Participants in the Art of Resistance included clergy and lay people of diverse backgrounds and ages, from seniors to a young elementary school student who attended with his mother. The range of experiences of both presenters and participants enriched the discussion period after each presentation.

While attendance at the sessions was modest, averaging between 25 and 50 participants per session, those who attended found it deeply worthwhile. “I really loved the whole premise of the series – bringing the history of the various art forms into conversation with Black history, along with the insights from presenters, organizers and participants about their experiences of being Black today,” said one participant. Another expressed appreciation for the opportunity to hear from another side of the Anglican Church. “The series provided an opportunity to listen, learn and collaborate through a lens that is rarely discussed,” said another person. “Please let this series be an annual item on the Church calendar!”

In order for the series to reach a wider audience, recordings of the six sessions have been uploaded to the diocese’s YouTube channel. Links to the recordings and all background materials can be found at, which can also be accessed from the Diversity Resources page on the website. Canon Taylor hopes that these materials might be useful as a resource for parishes wishing to explore Black history more deeply, either as part of Black History Month or as a series on anti-racism.

To follow up on the online sessions, Canon Taylor and her fellow Parkdale-West Toronto deacons are planning two daytrips by bus to locations of Black historical significance in south-central Ontario. The first trip, on Saturday, Aug. 3, will visit the Old Durham Road Black Pioneer Cemetery in Princeville and the site of the Negro Creek Settlement enroute to the Emancipation Day Festival in Owen Sound. The second trip, on Saturday, Sept. 14, will feature the Sheffield Black History Museum in Clarksburg and the Heritage Community Church in Collingwood. Each trip will leave Toronto at 8:30 a.m. and depart for Toronto at 4:30 p.m. For more details and to sign up for one or both of these trips, see the Events page of the diocese’s website,

Like the Art of Resistance online sessions, the planned excursions offer a window into often-neglected aspects of Black history in Canada. Thanks are extended to Canon Taylor and the Parkdale-West Toronto deacons for this opportunity to enrich Anglicans’ understanding of the diversity of our communities and the complexity of our history.


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