The Black Experience in the Greater Toronto Area
The Environics Institute, in partnership with Ryerson's Diversity Institute, the United Way of Greater Toronto, the YMCA of Greater Toronto, and the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, is launching a groundbreaking research study focusing on the Black community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
The purpose of this study is to better understand the nature of the challenges facing the Black community, through exploring the lived experiences and views of individuals within this community across the GTA that speak to the contributions, challenges, opportunities, capacity and resiliency of its members. The results are intended to identify policies and other initiatives that will contribute to future success. This study will be guided by an advisory group composed of Black community leaders and leading academic experts.
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, Peel Social Planning Council, Redemption and Reintegration Services, the City of Toronto, Tropicana and the Youth Challenge Fund.
The need for such a study is clear: Economic, educational, social and political disparities in Canada have been well-documented, but the extent of such disparities for Black people is disproportionate. Even the most highly educated in this diverse community lag behind other visible minorities, in terms of attaining financial well-being, health social inclusion, political power and other benchmarks of success. What are not well understood are the underlying factors that account for the particular challenges facing members of the Black community; the descriptive economic and social data simply do not tell the whole story.
As well there is also a lack of research that adequately captures the complexity of the conception of “Black” identity, a term itself is problematic to some and one that masks significant differences within the” community in terms of such characteristics as ethnicity, place of birth, language, socio-economic status and gender.
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;
• 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.
Phase 1has now been completed, and a final report will be released in January 2014, which will also serve as the kick-off for the Phase Two research. Phase One has been led by BEP Phase One Project Director Marva Wisdom.
Marva is a community leader who blends her personal and professional passions to help her clients and community build on the strengths of a strong and collaborative work force. A dedicated volunteer, Marva chaired the 2010 and 2011 United Way campaign for Guelph-Wellington where she led the team that raised nearly $5M for social services in her community. She has served as Trustee for the MacDonald Stewart Art Centre, board vice chair of the Guelph YM-YWCA, and founding chair of the Guelph Chapter - Institute for Canadian Citizenship. Nationally, she serves as vice chair of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and is a member of the National Diversity Task Force for YWCA Canada. Marva’s recognitions include the Guelph Y’s Woman of Distinction award, the CTV/CKCO ‘Our Hero of the Week’ award and more recently, she has been nominated for the Ontario Good Citizen Award. She holds a Masters of Arts in Leadership from the University of Guelph.
To learn more about the Black Experience Project, contact Marva Wisdom.