The Black Experience in the Greater Toronto Area

What is the Black Experience Project?

A groundbreaking research study of the "lived experience" of individuals across the Greater Toronto Area who self-identify as Black or of African heritage.

The study focuses on the contributions, successes, experiences and challenges of the people from this diverse set of communities. The research will provide valuable direction in identifying policies and other initiatives that will contribute to the health and vibrancy of the Black community, and by doing so, the health and vibrancy of the entire GTA community.  

The study consisted of in-depth one-on-one confidential interviews with a representative sample of more than 1,500 individuals across the GTA. The surveys have now been completed and the analysis of results is underway.  The study will be officially released in February 2017. Stay tuned for further details.

Who is behind the Black Experience Project?

The Environics Institute is conducting the research in partnership with Ryerson's Diversity Institute, the United Way of Greater Toronto, and the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

The project is also being supported by a number of other leading organizations as Collaborating Partners, including the African Canadian Development Council, the Black Artists Network Dialogue, the Jamaica Canadian Association, the Region of Peel, Redemption and Reintegration Services, the City of Toronto, Tropicana Community Services and Black Artists Network Dialogue (BAND).

The research is guided by a Research Advisory Group, composed of academic researchers with an established track record of relevant research.

Learn more about the Black Experience Project


Hear from our Community Interviewers

Introduction to the Black Experience Project


The project is founded on evidence demonstrating that survey research can serve as a powerful vehicle to give voice to individuals and groups who are not normally heard from. Such research offers a unique opportunity to articulate positive narratives and hopeful scenarios for the future that might not otherwise be properly heard. These stories will encourage personal initiative, stronger policies, and investment of public, private, and philanthropic resources.

Project results are expected to provide a focal point for the Black community to better harness its assets and expand its successes broadly throughout the entire community. It will help the community build on strategies to move forward, and it will also help the broader community (e.g., community leaders, decision-makers, public) understand and appreciate the vibrancy of the Black community within their vicinity.

The project includes three phases:

• Phase 1: Community engagement: to proactively engage the Black community to ensure the research focuses on issues of greatest relevance, and contributes to capacity building. This phase has been completed and final report is now available for download here.

• Phase 2: Research design and execution to conduct an in-depth survey with a representative sample of individuals within the GTA Black community; and

• Phase 3: Post-study dissemination and public engagement: to broadly publicize the research findings and actively engage policy-makers and the Black community around implications and next steps.

The Phase 2 survey has now been completed. Analysis of the results is now underway, with a major public release now scheduled for September 2016. Stay tuned for updates.

Media Coverage of the Black Experience Project

CBC Radio One Metro Morning - February 17-2015

Global TV News - January 29-2015



BEP Team

Marva Wisdom - Director of Community Engagement and Outreach

Marva is a highly respected and sought after facilitator and speaker who, through her company, Wisdom Consulting, provides clients with the tools and courage they need to facilitate meaningful growth through leadership, effective engagement, diversity and inclusivity. She is also a dedicated community volunteer, serving in senior position withsuch organizations as United Way Guelph, Rotary Club of Guelph, and the Guelph YM-YMCA. She has been an active member of the BEP Team since the project’s inception in 2010, and served as the Project Director for Phase One. She can be reached at


Laura Mae Lindo – BEP Senior Consultant

Laura Mae Lindo is serving as a Senior Consultant on the analysis and reporting of the project. She is currently the Director of Equity and Diversity at Wilfred Laurier University, in addition to being a creative consultant and professional speaker. Previous to this she served as a Senior Research Associate at Ryerson University, where she played a key role in Phase One of the Black Experience Project. Laura Mae holds both a Ph.D. and a Master’s degree in Education from York University, as well as a Certificate in Human Rights from York University – Osgoode Hall Law School.


Suelyn Knight - BEP Project Manager Phase 2

Suelyn Knight's served in a lead role in organizing and coordinating the survey administration, including recruitment and supervision of the community youth who were hired and trained to conduct the in-person interviews. Suelyn comes with extensive experience in project management and community development experience, most recently as a Community Outreach Coordinator at United Way Peel Region.


Lead Partners



Our Lead Sponsors:



 Our Regional Partners


Our media partners: 

CBC Toronto

 To learn more about the Black Experience Project, contact Keith Neuman