Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #5: Amanda Nunes, Blogger, Heartless Girl

While Amanda and I have run through different social circles as bloggers, I’ve found her nothing but kind each time we have crossed paths. Her submission for Tales from the 2.9 is a testament to the fact that one doesn’t need to feel boxed in by their race — we are more than our skin colour, and sometimes we need to fight to remind the world of that.

Read more in her submission below!


Amanda Nunes is a social media professional, digital communicator and visual artist. She’s the influencer behind HeartlessGirl.com, a lifestyle, travel and food blog for Canadian women. When she’s not sharing her adventures on her blog, she contributes to Vitamin Daily, WDish and Post City, to name a few.

As an artist and illustrator, Amanda has led workshops in schools, and created installations for Nuit Blanche and the Harbourfront Centre. When she’s not in Toronto, you can find her traveling around the world, or with her nose in a book.

Portfolio | FacebookTwitter | Instagram


1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?

When I think of Black History Month, I think about Canada’s part in the Underground Railroad, and of all the contributions that Black Canadians make to the city.

2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?

I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced a largely positive experience as a Black person in Canada. I grew up in a neighbourhood that was largely white. I was always the only Black girl in my classes, extracurricular activities and summer camp. Because of this, I may not be what someone expects a “typical” Black person to be. I’m often told that I don’t seem “Black enough.” I grew up in a Black household, so I have my own opinions on what it means to be Black. I’ve learned that being Black doesn’t limit you to certain things or interests, even if others think it should. I’m a Black girl that took Japanese lessons, went to art school, is a terrible dancer and likes old school R & B as well as emo and screamo music. There isn’t just one way to be black.

3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?

I want to leave an impression of positivity. I want Black girls to know that they aren’t tied to one role based on the colour of their skin. They can shun stereotypes or embrace them – as long as they stay true to their own interests.

4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?

My parents are my mentors from a cultural standpoint, especially my mother. They both came to Toronto when they were younger from Jamaica and Guyana, respectively. They’ve taught me everything I need to know to succeed. The greatest lesson that I’ve learned from them is that you should persevere to reach your goals.

5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?

Live your life the way you want to live it.


Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #4: Chad G. Cranston, Co-Founder, TQ Magazine

Before being introduced by a mutual friend, TQ was one of those names who I thought I’d never cross paths with because it’s a publication that just oozes cool. But co-founder Chad G. Cranston’s submission to Tales from the 2.9 is deeply rooted in something I believe in — leaving behind things that matter, not just chasing after the hottest new things on the market.

Legacy’s more important than we give it credit, and you can read Chad’s views on that and much more in his interview below! You can also check TQ out on their websiteTwitterVimeo and Facebook accounts!

Chad G. Cranston is one of Toronto’s top influencers in independent media. He successfully started and is the co-founder of TQ, Canada’s premier lifestyle coffee table book. While being in the media publishing business for over 10 years, TQ took third prize in 2011 the coveted National Magazine Awards and continued as trendsetting trailblazers with branched off companies Sully Wong (C’s other partner in TQ, George Sully) and Social Interactive. The award-winning metropolitan coffee table book features fashion, auto, music, entertainment and lifestyle. With an International Marketing diploma, Chad has become a digital pioneer in metropolitan lifestyle influence with a vast understanding of what the needs are from the Baby Boomer to Gen Z.


1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?

Black history to me when I was younger was all about the culture. I grew up in the 80’s RnB and soul, 90’s hip-hop era. Hip-hop was conscious. Artists like Public Enemy, KRS 1 and the Boogie Down Bronx, X Clan, Brand Nubian; and great female artists like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah were the teachers of black history. Each year, there was a talent contest in Ottawa and my group would prepare for weeks on end after school, practicing our lyrics, dance moves and stage performance. It wasn’t even to win; it was just to represent the culture for fun. It was the one time that as a youth, we felt a sense of unity no matter what part of the continent, island or city you came from, that night we were all one.

2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?

First, I am going to go down the rabbit hole. What the media is doing successfully is divide and conquer. This is a human race problem, not black or white. We need to understand that first in order to exist as a species. Me being Black, I was told by my parents that everything I do, I will need to do it twice as good as the next person just earn respect. I was taught not to be discouraged because not matter what, whatever I persevered over, would make me stronger and successful. I am fortunate to have great family support, multi-cultural friends, and great education to be able to do the things I do. Pop Ash!

3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?

Legacy. The misconception of the Black man sucks. Since I was a youth, I made that conscious decision to not be a stigma. With legacy comes responsibility. By my actions, those who want to learn will understand it’s about living with integrity.  Build something that you can leave behind that makes this world a better place. Maybe as small as planting a tree, or helping a kid, buying books for the less fortunate, inventing something, writing a book, whatever – Just do something positive to leave behind.

4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?

Gene Simmons from KISS. Had a life changing deep conversation that lasted over an hour about being a media influencer. He put me on to create TCHAD Quarterly. From a cultural standpoint – Sidney Poitier, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith and Mike Tyson. Now you say, “One of these things don’t match up?” But in actuality it’s all relevant. Mike Tyson came from the gutter and became the undisputed youngest heavyweight champion of the world. That right there, if you decide to choose the right paths, tells you that no matter what adversity you confront, you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it and are determined to fuel your energy in the right direction.

5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?

The time is now. Its starts in the family, at home, in church, neighborhoods, the city and the country. Invest in it. There is a lesson to be learned from other races that do it and are successful.


Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #3: Heather Greenwood Davis, Writer, GlobetrottingMama.com

While I’ve spent quite some time seeing Heather’s work from afar as she raises her family with a global awareness and appreciation for the diverse world around them, we’ve only crossed paths once — at a Montecito dinner with Steve Carlisle, General Motors Canada’s GM Canada’s President and Managing Director. She was great company, and I knew I had to include her in Tales from the 2.9!

Heather’s submission looks at the need for communities to support from within, taking the lessons learned individually and teaching peers to improve life for everyone.

It’s a good read — make sure you check it out below!


Heather Greenwood Davis is the award-winning writer behind GlobetrottingMama.com – an international family travel blog. She is also the Family Time columnist for National Geographic Traveler Magazine and a frequent contributor to their Intelligent Travel Blog. Her stories and articles appear in print, online, on television and on radio around the world including O Magazine, Canadian Living, The Toronto Star (for more than 20 years), NPR, CBC, CTV and many more.  She is a regular contributor to CTV Canada AM’s Parenting Panel and a frequent guest on The Social. Her trip with her husband and two sons around the world in 2011 led to the family being named as National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s “Travelers of the Year.”  Heather is also a professional speaker who has delivered keynotes and seminars at conferences including New Media Expo, Travel Bloggers Exchange,  Travel Media Association of Canada, United States Travel Association and others. When not in an airport or deciphering Minecraft-speak from her sons, the journalist turned lawyer turned travel writer can be found hiding from winter and fighting for sunshine one travel itinerary at a time.  You can reach her on twitter (@greenwooddavis), on facebook (facebook.com/globetrottingmama), on instagram (@heathergd) and on the web (www.globetrottingmama.com).


1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?

I think about people like Mary Ann Shadd and Lincoln Alexander. People who followed passions and benefitted an entire nation.

2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?

It’s true that a lot of what we learn about Black history comes from the USA and while that story is fascinating (and ongoing) it’s one most Black Canadians can only relate to tangentially. My experience as a Black person in Canada? Hard to sum up. I love this country. I’ve never felt anything other than belonging. The few negative race interactions I’ve had have been easily attributed to particular people or institutions but on a whole I feel very connected to my fellow Canadians. I’m proud of my ancestry, my heritage and my birthplace and I feel lucky to live in a country that is, for the most part, proud of it too.

3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?

I believe strongly in following your passion and sharing the lessons we learn to help each other. That’s what I try to do and what I try to teach my kids. I hope to be a part of large group of people doing exactly that so that the impression we leave together can’t be boiled down to my one step. It’s one of the reasons I love new media and the opportunity to hear (read) so many new voices. I think we all want the same things in life and it’s great to live in a time when more and more of that unifying call can be heard.

4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?

I’d have to say my parents. They are Jamaican immigrants who came to this country, worked hard and still found time to go to parent-teacher meetings. I’ve never in my life felt like they didn’t have my best interests at heart. That’s a powerful foundation to work from. Their parables and stories and example have been my most powerful teachers.

5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?

Live YOUR life. Yours. Not the one people think you should have or the one you’ve seen others live. Follow your passions. Build your dreams. Find your tribe and get the support you need to make them a reality. And then do it. And love it. And be happy.


Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #2: Lisa Simone Richards, Principal, Vitality PR & Communications

I remember first meeting Lisa at a party five years ago, and we’ve all come a long way since! Her submission for Tales from the 2.9 mirrors much of mine, but she touches on a lesson I think every Black Canadian child has heard at some point about life in a country filled with others who don’t look like we do:

“You need to work twice as hard to get half as far!”

Read more of her views below!


Lisa Simone Richards, principal at Vitality PR & Communications, has spent more than ten years working with brands of all sizes to grow their businesses through effective public relations and marketing strategies. Her clients have secured coverage in some of North America’s largest media outlets including Breakfast Television, the National Post, Chatelaine, and FitnessRX for Women. As a sought-out speaker, panelist and writer, Lisa Simone has been featured in the Globe & Mail, FASHION, SheKnows and more.

​Twitter: twitter.com/ellerich

LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/lisasimonerichards

Instagram:​ instagram.com/lisasimonerichards


1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?

When I think of Black History Month, the novel and also the miniseries The Book of Negroes is what comes to mind, exploring slavery and how that whole time not only related to the US but to Black individuals who made their way to Canada.

2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?

As a Black person in Canada, I’m fortunate to live in the melting pot that is Toronto where a number of different background and cultures all come together. I haven’t personally experienced what I would consider to be a ‘unique’ experience as a Black Canadian, just a Canadian experience. I have always found myself to be treated equally among my peers of different ethnicities. However, I am still conscious that a divide exists and always practice what my parents taught me – that as a result of my skin colour, I need to excel and push further than most non-Blacks do, if only to have a shot at being considered ‘equal’, not even exceptional or above average. We do have to work harder than most to achieve basic equality.

3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?

I hope to leave the impression that every individual, no matter how small he or she may feel, has an important contribution to make and footprint to leave behind. It’s specifically why I work with small businesses and entrepreneurs.

4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?

I haven’t had a specific mentor from a cultural standpoint, but again will reiterate what I learned from my parents: to work harder than the ‘average’ person to be able to compete with my non-Black peers.

5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?

Believe in your own capability, define a clear vision, and be willing to work harder than anyone else to make that vision a reality.


Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #1: Casey Palmer, Blogger, CaseyPalmer.com

You’d think that living a life as a person of colour, I’d have done a series like this far earlier, but I suppose I got sidetracked from everything else with the blog and never gave it a second thought. But some recent experiences starkly reminded me that yes, I am a Black man, and that means the life I live unfolds differently that almost everyone around me.

With Black people making up only 2.9% of the Canadian population, I can’t expect everyone to see things the way I do. Like the fact the Black History Month is so important because we’re one of the few collectives lumped together by our skin colour rather than nationality or religion. Or what the feeling’s like to become a de facto representative for your race when you’re the only one in the room. For all the stories so integral to the Black Experience, it occurred to me that I’d never seen the Black content creators I know tell their tales in one place.

So one day in late January, I came up with Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing Their Stories in a Digital Age, a project to showcase my fellow Black content creators across the nation in a month that should encourage us to really examine what it means to be Black in Canada and everything we can learn from our experiences.

But I can’t very well ask my peers to share their thoughts without doing so myself, now can I?

So without further ado, welcome to Tales from the 2.9, where you’ll learn about some awesome Black people from across the country with some things to say, and a thing or two about the lives they’ve led as people of colour!

I hope you glean as much from this series as I did putting it together!

Enjoy this read and I’ll see you at the next installment,

–case p.


Calling the Great White North his home, Casey‘s spent the last few decades in pursuit of creating killer content. From novels as a kid, comics as a teen, to blogs and photos once he could grow a beard, he’ll use whatever’s around him to create amazing stuff.

When he’s not creating, he’s parenting, exploring and trying to make life as awesome as possible for everyone around him.

Because a boring life’s not a life worth living!

You can find him on his website and his Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts!


1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?

Much of what I’ve been exposed to with Black History has been from the American history books, overwhelming with stories of slavery, racism and the Civil Rights Movement. The ones I remember outside of that are far more personal — of the experiences my grandmothers had in the ’70s, both good and bad; what I experienced on a trip to Tanzania and how much they saw me as an outsider; or just understanding what life’s been like for generations of my family in Jamaica — all the sacrifices they made so my brothers and I could thrive in Toronto today.

I’m learning more through the peers and study every day, and I’m hoping to learn more about our accomplishments and achievements through time, rather than the weighty words that we often use after so many forms of oppression.

2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?

“I used to get teased for being black
And now I’m here and I’m not black enough
Cause I’m not acting tough
Or making stories up ’bout where I’m actually from”

— Drake, “You & The 6”, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (2015)

I’ve always found it difficult to define the Black Experience in Canada, perhaps because I’ve felt so removed from it for so long. I’ve been one of three Black kids in schools of 600. I’ve had girls who wouldn’t date me because I wasn’t “Black enough”. I’ve even toyed with publishing a book on the matter — TOKEN: Being Black in a World Coloured Otherwise. But no matter how Black you feel you aren’t, there are still plenty of people who’ll remind you that you’re darker skinned than they are.

The odd looks at the beginning of interviews when a Black man walks in instead of a blonde white female. (Seriously — go look at Google Images of “Casey”.) Or when I go on a cruise and people mistake me for one of the staff — multiple times. We’re so quickly judged by our skin colour that it’s hard not to be bitter sometimes.

When it all comes down to it, I’ve led a good life so far, and its foundation lie with parents who taught me right from wrong, and to let my heritage be a motivator rather than a stone to weigh me down. It’s better to be the first Black person in a career than another marginalized statistic — and that’s a success I’ll never stop fighting for.

3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?

As a Canadian content creator, I want to show that great work can come from just about anywhere — the Canadian market may not be as massive as others, but we’ve got plenty of potential up here, and I’m hoping to show the world what can happen when you really put your mind to something!

4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?

Narrowing things down to a single mentor’s hard for me because I’ve learned so much from the many people I’ve had in my life. The managers who’d take me under their wings to make sure I could navigate the challenges all around me. The older Black kids who shared my experiences and took me in like a younger sibling to make sure I fit in and built my social circles so I’d always have peers to talk to. What I learned from everyone is to make the most of my life despite whatever social barriers life has in store, because ultimately I’m the only one who can determine how my life will end up!

5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?

It might not seem like it with the weight of the world on our shoulders, but the very fact that we feel like we’re on the bottom with the world looking down on us means there’s no better time to climb up and do some amazing things with our community! The possibilities are endless and there’s a wealth of markets we’ve yet to make our marks in — it’s time to explore new options and see what we’re really capable of!


 

Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!