Discover Black Toronto
Explore the African heritage side of Toronto, CA. Tour and eat around. Go to festivals, concerts and sporting events.
By Dwight Brown, Travel and Food Writer | 5/2/2023, 10:36 a.m.
Visit Toronto and you’ll encounter one of the most multicultural/multiracial cities in the world along with a thriving Black community of 400K+ African heritage people.
People who can trace their roots back to the Caribbean or African Americans who fled to Canada from the U.S. during slavery in the 1800s or immigration from Africa—the motherland (Somalia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria…).
And when African heritage artists, athletes and travelers from around the globe come to Toronto to perform, play and vacation—the city lights up even more.
Dine in Black-owned restaurants and Afrocentric eateries.
Feast on Jamaican, Caribbean and African diaspora dishes. Eat your way around the city—especially during Toronto Black Restaurant Week - July 7 – July 16. Or get it to go:
· Miss Likklemore’s -- Feast on Likkle Patties (braised oxtail), Escovitch Style Madai Snapper, Grilled Tofu Curry and other haute Caribbean-inspired dishes.
· Rasta Pasta – Dreadlock Lasagna, Callaloo Dumplings and Trenchtown Goat are Jamaican/Italian fusion offerings by Chefs Magnus Patterson and Mary Neglia.
· Afrobeat Kitchen – Wonderful West African grub. Drink Zobo (Nigerian hibiscus beverage), eat Party Jollof (paella style dish with crayfish) and Kelewe Testones.
· Sugar Kane Caribbean and Cajun Cuisine – Uncle Ben’s Saltfish Cakes, Creole Jambalaya and Salted Caramel Bread Pudding make diners happy every day.
· Veggie D’Light – Chef Peter adds Caribbean flavors to plant-based cuisine. Try Vegan Roti, VD’L Lasagna (Quinoa pasta) and Savory Pizza Cake. Takeout only.
· The Heartbreak Chef – Dine on Chef Jerome Robinson’s tasty comfort food. The Big Ass Chicken Sandwich, Cajun Tater Tots and Deep-Fried Brussels are best.
· Cup of Té Café – Founder Taylor Lindsay-Noel serves and ships premium teas.
· Mary’s Brigarderio – A Black-woman led handcrafted chocolate creations oasis.
Tour museums/galleries that reflect African heritage culture.
See paintings, photos, crafts and artifacts of Black life from Canada and Africa curated displayed in Black galleries, national museums and traveling exhibitions.
• BAND Gallery and Cultural Centre -- Black Artists’ Network in Dialogue supports, documents and showcases Black artists’ contributions.
• African Drums & Art Crafts -- Art hub provides classes for kids to professionals. Exhibits African carvings, masks, jewelry and clothes.
• Nia Centre for the Arts – Helps young people hone artistic talents. Hosts writers’ circles, printmaking classes, music and spoken word events.
• Union Station – Feb 6 – May 31 -- Six Black CTA artists show their stuff in “I Am Still Here: Black Joy is Resistance” exhibit at the Union Train Station.
• Royal Ontario Museum -- The Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, The Americas, and Asia-Pacific. 1,400 historic artifacts—many from Africa.
Picture Black life in motion at star-studded film festivals.
Directors, actors and producers come to Toronto to premiere their films to audiences who love movies. Ryan Coogler, Ava Duvernay, Tyler Perry, Gina Prince-Bythewood…
• Toronto International Film Festival – Sep 7 – 17 -- Finest international cinema and black-directed movies. CEO is Barbados-born Cameron Bailey.
• CaribbeanTales International Film Festival – Sep 2023 – Come celebrate the talents of filmmakers of Caribbean and African heritage.
• ReelWorld Film Festival – Nov 1 – 7 -- Black, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian and POC films. Fest founder TV’s Y&R actor Tonya Lee Williams.
• Toronto Black Film Festival – Excellent Black films every February.
Feel the rhythm of Black life at music festivals and concerts.
Drake and The Weeknd were born and raised in Toronto, so you know that music runs deep here. Festivals and concerts feature homegrown artists and international stars. Listen, commune and feel their spirit.
• Toronto Jazz Festival – Jun 23 – Jul 2 – Herbie Hancock and Ashanti.
• Beaches Jazz Festival – Jul 6 – Jul 30 – Free fest, multiple venues.
• History – This downtown music venue features: Ella Mai Jun 1; Reggaefest Jun 10; Sean Paul Jul 2.
• Budweiser Stage at Molson Canadian Amphitheater – Janet Jackson May 23; Shaggy & En Vogue Jun 15; Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa Jul 26.
• Scotiabank Arena – Alicia Keys Jul 14; Lionel Ritchie Aug 8; Drake Oct 5 & 7.
• Rogers Center – Beyonce Jul 8 & 9.
• Toronto Caribbean Carnival – Aug 3 – 7 with Calypso Singers competition on Jul 30.
Catch the energy of Black athletes at sporting events.
They shoot hoops, bat balls, swing tennis racquets and try to win. Urge them on and support Toronto’s key Black athletes and other international athletes too. Watch them play.
• Toronto Blue Jays – Apr to Sep -- First baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hits a mighty ball at Rogers Center Stadium.
• Toronto Football Club – May to Oct -- They call it football; we call it soccer. Sean Johnson and Amanda Diomande are star players.
• The National Bank Tennis Open – Aug 5 – 13 -- Felix Auger-Aliassime is Toronto’s homeboy. He competes against the U.S.’s Frances Tiafoe and Christopher Eubanks and Sweden’s Mikael Ymer for the title and trophy.
• WNBA Canada – May 13 -- First ever WNBA Canada game will be between the Chicago Sky and Minnesota Lynx at Scotiabank Arena.
• Toronto Raptors – Oct to Apr -- Will Barton, O.G. Anunoboy and Scottie Barnes fulfill everyone’s hoop dreams at Scotiabank Arena.
Trace the paths Black people blazed. Take a sightseeing tour.
By foot, van or bike tour around and go where Black folks have thrived through history and left lasting impressions. African heritage history tours are enlightening adventures. Ready, set, go.
• Myseum of Toronto Brought in Bondage – Brought in Bondage: Downtown Walking Tour.
• Tubman Tours Canada – Follow Harriet Tubman’s trail and life.
• Toronto Bicycle Tours – Owner Terrance Eta has the friendliest team of bicycle guides in his Black-owned touring company.
• Toronto Black Farmers – Tour collective’s farm and learn about agriculture.
• Deeply Rooted Market – Buy healthy, organic and culturally appropriate produce from Black and Indigenous farmers at farmers markets.
Anchor your visit in a Black-owned, Caribbean-style hostel. Ode.
Trinidad and Tobago-born hotelier Erica Herbert has created Ode Toronto, a homey, classy hostel with an artistic atmosphere. Stay in her guest house and enjoy its Caribbean feel. Located in Toronto’s vibrant Little Portugal neighborhood.
Visit NNPA News Wire travel & food writer Dwight Brown at DwightBrownInk.com.