Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 Wrap-Up

I’ll admit it—with Tales from the 2.9‘s successful completion, I almost felt like resting on my laurels and taking the day off. I mean, this year was easily far bigger than I’d expected, running the media circuit, coordinating with contributors, writing heaps of social shares for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn… it’d be so easy to just pat myself on the back and take a break until the next great initiative. Let’s face it—I am but one man.

But sitting on my haunches didn’t get me here—it was nights spent grinding away on a project that sincerely mattered to me, and happily found it matters to others as well.

That’s not the end game, though—not by a long shot.

Tales from the 2.9 — This is Only the Beginning.

With Tales,  I was able to explore part of my identity through the lens of my kinfolk’s experiences, examining its many facets through the stories told.

And the project did wellTales saw:

  • 5000 unique page views over the month
  • 3.5% engagement on Twitter, where the average is 0.5-1%
  • 44.2% engagement on Instagram, where the average is 3-6%, and
  • 60.8% engagement on Facebook, where the average is 0.5-1%

And that’s just content I shared. Combine it with the shares from contributors and media outlets, and you start seeing numbers like:

  • 1025 Facebook likes
  • 245 Facebook shares
  • 455 retweets, and
  • 640 Twitter likes!

So yeah, this year’s Tales showed there’s a definite appetite for Black Canadian content in this nation, but why limit ourselves to February alone?

See—that right there’s the problem. The point. The crux of why we must keep pressing forward even when Black History Month’s wrapped up. Sure, the celebration’s over, and yes, we had our time to shine. But you know what?

February’s over, but we’re still Black.

Black Fridays — Because One Month Alone Cannot Tell Our Story.

We still need to speak up. We still need to keep our momentum and show the world what we’ve got. When the Honourable Jean Augustine bolstered awareness of Black history by introducing an official Black History Month over 20 years ago, it was only a first step. It’s up to us to keep that mission going and work with one another to clearly outline why we’re important to Canada’ s history and that 28 days alone won’t tell the full tale.

But that means taking action. It means doing more than just crying foul when we celebrate our achievements in the coldest and shortest month of the year. It means putting something out in the world that begins to move us in the right direction, and for me, that’s a new series I’m calling Black Fridays.

Though I wrote an introduction for each post in Tales, there’s much of my stories and viewpoint I never got around to telling. Like the three times someone confused me for staff on our honeymoon cruise. Or the double takes that sometimes happen when I first walk in an interview. There’s plenty yet to explore with sometimes as vast as Black Canadian culture, and I think a longer look at its various aspects will help us dive deeper into plenty of places we might not explore otherwise! We’ll start this Friday with a Tales submission from artist Stephanie Konu that I never got to share, as well as other tales and tidbits that I’d do a disservice not to mention.

Next Stop — #Chronicle150!

But there we go! Tales from the 2.9 217 is at a close, and we’re on to the next step — #Chronicle150: 150 Truly Canadian Stories for its 150th Birthday! If you have a story you think is perfect for the series, I’d love to hear from you—details are all in the link below:

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS- #Chronicle150 Call for Submissions- #Chronicle150 — 150 Truly Canadian Stories for its 150th Birthday (Featured Image)

So thanks to all the contributors, the media contacts and others who really believed in the project, and thanks to all of you who checked it out! Those who wrote, shared, and suggested others who’d make great contributors—it’d be impossible without you!

Thanks again, everyone, and we’ll see you for #Chronicle150!

Until the next,

–case p.

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #28, Ardean Peters, Photographer, Photography by Ardean

This year’s been a challenging one for Tales from the 2.9.

Last year was bad timing—putting 29 daily posts out right after becoming a Dad for the second time is no simple feat, and we somehow pulled it off. I was eager to build on that success and keep it going well past February, but life as a quartet caught up with me, and my time and energy soon found themselves committed… elsewhere.

So I stood this year determined to learn from my mistakes, and I thought I had it all figured out. I started looking for contributors weeks earlier, hoping to get everything lined up at the beginning of February to make time for other things. I tried to build awareness for the project, putting out a press release and landing interviews in several major Toronto media outlets with both luck and a noteworthy story. Everything felt perfect for an amazing Tales from the 2.9… until we reached the end and I suddenly found myself without enough contributors.

Fortunately, I had access to unpublished work like Ardean Peters’ piece below, but I’m surprised that things worked out this way. I definitely get it—some were too busy to write; it is Black History Month, after all. Some too overwhelmed by the questions’ gravity in a polarised world. And I’m sure some started writing, but life had other plans for their time and they never got to finish.

Whatever the reasons, I’m just glad we got to see 28 unique stories in 2017, and it’s taught me a valuable lesson—don’t expect miracles when you’re spreading a message only one month of the year!

But these are words befitting a wrap-up post; this is not my soapbox right now—the eyes are squarely focused on Ardean. Her story mirrors that of many Black children born here in that we don’t really recognise our Blackness until we’re older. We know we’re different at first, but don’t often understand what that means in the larger world until we have the life experience to get it.

do hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s Tales from the 2.9, and we’ll wrap this up tonight with one. More. Post!

See you then,

–case p.


Many Black Canadians come from families who sacrificed plenty to give them the lives they have today. What do you know of your family history and how has it shaped your current self?

Both my mom and dad are from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and emigrated to Canada in 1968 and 1971 respectively. I think what I remember most is, while my parents had a strong connection to their home and instilled in us those traditions, they also always encouraged us as ‘Canadian kids’, making sure that we knew that we were Canadian and this was our home. To that end, I see myself as Canadian first, sewn and stitched together with a rich and diverse history and culture, which informs who I am today.

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?

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #28, Ardean Peters, Photographer, Photography by Ardean — Ardean Standing
Credit || Michel Eberhard

Interesting question, because it wasn’t really until I was an older child, that I saw myself as ‘black’. As a child growing up, I just thought of myself as ‘Canadian’ and my skin colour was an afterthought. I grew up in the most diverse community in North York at the time, Jane and Finch. On top of that, the school I was in, really encouraged the belief that we were ALL Canadians and equal. I was so lucky to experience such a diversity of people and culture, which has shaped how I treat and connect with people as an adult.

On the flip side, as I’ve gotten older, had more experiences, worked in many different environments and experienced more of the city, its people and neighbourhoods, I’ve come to realise that I am a minority, which I honestly didn’t see as a young person. Because of this, and the realisation how strong an impact media has on shaping the opinions of people that have limited access and contact with black people (and people of other ethnic backgrounds), I realise the importance there is in promoting positive and normalising images of Black Diaspora people.

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #27, Rachel Lambo, Owner/Designer, Smthng New Studio

If I can agree on one thing with Rachel Lambo’s Tale from the 2.9, it’s our need to expect more from ourselves as a community.

It’s 2017, and there’re so many options to help a people thrive. We can bolster our business with think tanks and workshops. Or pool our resources to give opportunities to those who wouldn’t have them otherwise. We want to see the Black community thrive and prosper, but with other cultures so ahead in the game, we’ll need some creative solutions to bridge the gap!

With the second-last Tale, we’re looking for a paradigm shift—making use of tools, technologies, people and methods to excel beyond the limitations thrust upon us. It’s easy to dwell on the things that’ve held us back and cry foul on the situation… but it’s time to rely on our strength and resilience to reach out for the future that’s completely attainable.

We just need to work for it. Together.

Enjoy today’s Tale and we’ll see you tomorrow for one last go at 2017’s Tales from the 2.9!

Until then,

–case p.


What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

It represents and means community to me.

What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?

It has been a great experience to see so many people get involved and how much information is being shared on social media, radio, and TV. Last year’s Black History Month was very uplifting, learning about the great achievements of Black Pioneers in Canada and Worldwide.

What’s something you’d like to see more of within the Black Canadian community?

More events that include think tanks, tech- and business law-related workshops. There is certainly a need for more opportunities so people cannot only network but have discussions and build consortiums.

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #26, Alicia Bell, Kinesiologist, Online Personal Trainer, Strength Coach and Track & Field Coach, Train it Right

Having lived in the Toronto area my whole life, I’ve had the benefit of a highly multicultural Canada.

Half of Toronto’s made up of visible minorities, with 8.5% of that pie being Black. It’s quite possibly the best place in the world to raise my mixed race family, in a city known for its diversity and acceptance. There’s something for everyone in The Big Smoke, and I don’t see my family living anywhere else!

But what about the rest of Canada?

Toronto’s but a 7.7% sliver of Canada’s population at 2.8 million strong, yet the 220,000 Black people who call it home make up more than 23% of the country’s total Black population! In fact, 80% of our country’s Black people live in a mere 0.1% of the country’s landmass, which makes you wonder what life is like for the 20% in the rest of the country.

Hailing from Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, Alicia’s view is one of optimism, seeing how far she’s come and filled with hope for her years ahead. Check out what she has to say below!

And me, I’ll be prepping for tomorrow’s penultimate Tale from the 2.9!

Until then,

–case p.


What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

Being Black Canadian means that I’ve never had to worry about the colour of my skin or who my friends are. I’m proud to live in an amazing country that accepts everyone regardless and I feel blessed to be Black Canadian.
Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #26, Alicia Bell, Kinesiologist, Train it Right — Alicia Doing Lunges

What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?

Being Black Canadian has shaped who I am today because I grew up in an area of New Brunswick that was predominantly all white. Even though I was different I was proud to be different and happy to educate people on my background. Being diverse and Black in Canada opens me up to influence so many people with my passion for helping others reach their health and fitness goals.

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #25, Lamin Martin, Illustrator/Concept Designer, Lamin illustration & Design

An update from Casey Palmer, February 12th, 2020:

So you may have heard by now, but I was shocked last night when Rob texted me to let me know that Lamin had passed away after a long struggle with ALS. And though Lamin and I hadn’t crossed paths in quite a number of years, I have to say that our world’s lost a good one. I remember in those times in Artist’s Alley, he would have easily some of the most amazing work on-site, but never let it go to his head. He always approached every interaction with humility and grace, and you could feel how sincere he was with everyone he talked to. I wish I’d kept in better touch, but my life went another way… I just hope he knows how much he connected so many of us.

I’ll keep his words up to give you an idea of the kind of man he was. I think we could all learn a lot from his example.


Original Post:

I know from experience that many artists prefer to let their work speak for itself, and with how beautiful Lamin Martin’s work is, I’m surprised his submission wasn’t blank!

Lamin’s entry makes one think pretty heavily about our societal need to add a “Black” modifier before just about everything. Black businesses. Or Black television. Black Twitter. Lamin has a point—though the reason to differentiate is of noble intent (we started with nothing, so this is us carving something out for ourselves), when does it go from pride in our community to pigeonholing ourselves? From successfully establishing services by us for us to having set the bar too low as we exclude the other 97% of the country? Just because we’ve spent so long doing things one way, does it make it the right way?

Of the submissions I’ve received for this year’s Tales, the ones I’ve enjoyed most are those that make me think or question my assumptions—Lamin’s definitely makes the cut!

I hope you enjoy today’s Tale from the 2.9, and who knows—maybe it’ll inspire some interesting conversations in your life!

We’ll see you tomorrow!

Until then,

–case p.


What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

I never thought of it in any other terms other than I’m a Canadian.

What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?

My experience has been great! I have a job doing what I love and I’m surrounded by people who respect me based on who I am and not what I am. And it’s that level of mutual respect that pushes me professionally and personally.

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #24, Natalie Bell, Lifestyle Blogger, PegCityLovely

Part of the duality of being Black is that you don’t want to be defined by your melanin, but you also don’t seek to forget everything that’s come before you to make you who you are today.

Natalie’s post reminds me that the world will inform you you’re Black no matter how you’re raised, but it’s up to us not to let the disadvantages of being Black Canadian hold us back. Instead, we must work hard to overcome them so we can shape the tomorrow we want.

Even through this series, we’ve seen examples of a number of Black professionals and the things they’ve done to carve their own paths—who’s to say you can’t do the same?

I hope Natalie’s story—like many of the stories we’ve shared this year—inspires you, and as for me, I’m off to prep tomorrow’s Tale from the 2.9!

Until then,

–case p.


What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

Funny enough, I’ve never thought of myself in that context. I’ve always been Canadian. I was never taught to label myself in such a manner. If anything, I would state that I’m a Jamaican-Canadian, because I have been heavily immersed in my heritage from a young age, thanks to that good, good “broughtupsie’! I knew I was black, kids in school were quick to tell me, and I may not have completely understood what it was all about then but I knew was different, I just didn’t dwell on it. My parents would tell me afterwards how important it was to get an education and that I would need to work harder than others because I was a Black Canadian. I understand it now more than ever. Being a Black Canadian means I need to be a role model for my children and help guide them to see their worth in this world as they will be labelled the same way.

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #23, Jem Jackson, Curator of Women’s Stories, Dreamer, Consultant, Facilitator, I’M STILL STANDING SERIES & JEMJACKSON.COM

I’ve heard it argued numerous times that I have Donald K. Trump’s victory to thank for Tales from the 2.9’s popularity, with Canada and the US’ visible minority populations alike knowing fear and apprehension like never before.

But that’s not exactly right.

Our Black brothers and sisters were still meeting untimely ends by a police force who put no value in their lives in 2016. We still made up entirely too much of our urban centres’ fringes, representing a disenfranchised people withheld from the hope or power needed to break away from the negative cycle they’ve been thrust into. We still had to constantly prove our worth, knowing there’re all too many people waiting for us to slip so they can paint us with the brush of negativity that popular culture seems to favour all too often.

Sure, when Trump won the election, America’s ugly side surfaced with a brazenness we hadn’t seen in ages, but how different were things really?

These thoughts in mind, in the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I thought why not look back at an unpublished post from last year’s Tales and see how the world’s shifted in the year since?

Jem Jackson’s piece touches on an element of Canadian race relations we rarely bring to light—while racism’s often not as overt as we see it down south, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s far subtler, to the point we might not even consciously know we’re doing it. It could be an unsolicited touching of hair. Addressing your Black friends differently because you’re “homies”. Choosing a seat on the bus anywhere other than next to the Black person, because you never know what might happen. We come with our biases and assumptions galore, and it’s far too seldom that anyone calls people on it.

So I’m happy to see Jem’s not about to just let that slide.

But I’ll let Jem tell her own story. I hope you enjoy it, and I’ll catch you tomorrow with another Tale from the 2.9!

Until then,

–case p.


Many Black Canadians come from families who sacrificed plenty to give them the lives they have today. What do you know of your family history and how has it shaped your current self?

My family history has definitely shaped who am I today. We didn’t have much in terms of material things but I wouldn’t trade anything for the life lessons that I had the privilege of learning. I grew up in a very political family involved in the Civil Rights movement – so I had the experience of witnessing my father sacrifice a lot for the Black community and be a change-maker. I also had the experience of living with and learning from my mother, who was a single mom – she taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to and that faith and hard work is necessary for success.

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #22, Kamshuka, International Speaker, Life Coach, Author “Becoming Warrior”

One concept Kamshuka teaches people in her quest to help them find their inner warriors is that of the “Fullest Life.” After surviving the Ugandan Civil War as a child and coming to Canada at 14, Kamshuka appreciates making the most of each day in a way that most people never come close to.

While I’m profusely grateful that I didn’t need to overcome any human rights violations to get here, I feel like my Fullest Life is growing before my eyes. I’m writing pieces that positively impact the world around me. I’ve gotten to start showing our youth that there’re other ways to succeed in a world where it can feel like employment opportunities are in a chokehold. I hope to show my sons how to live their best lives possible not only through my words but through clear actions that show what’s possible when your passions align with your efforts.

If you feel stuck in your life, let Kamshuka set you straight—she’s a survivor, and there won’t be any stopping her anytime soon!

I’ll see you tomorrow with another Tale from the 2.9!

Until then,

–case p.


What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

Being Black Canadian means I get to celebrate my diversity with no apologies. As a mixed black Canadian (African & Anglo-Indian), every day that I get to share my diversity with my fellow citizens and children just reminds me of how proud I am to be Black Canadian.

What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #22, Kamshuka, International Speaker, Life Coach, Author Becoming Warrior — Portrait PhotoI came to Canada when I was only 14 years old and spent my high school years trying to figure where I stood more. As I got older I began to embrace being black soon after I realised how many Black women and men of influence I was surrounded by. When I was 23 years old and enjoying my new career as a professional photographer, this was the only time I felt judged for my skin tone and gender. I was shooting weddings in a male-dominated profession, and remember thinking I would work hard despite this obvious awkward entrance into almost every room and let my work speak for itself. Thankfully as the years went by, my work ethic and art spoke for itself and enabled me to reach so many new heights locally in Toronto and also overseas.

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #21, Derrick Raphael, Esq., Chief Education Officer, Global Trailblazers of Today

Much like I wanted to show what a view on our culture might look like from the outside in when I profiled Zetta Elliot, PhD, Derrick Raphael, Esq. looks at our culture from the opposite perspective, only having come here from the US in September 2015.

Derrick brought up an interesting point with his Tales from the 2.9 submission—a key reason why it’s so hard to unite the Black Canadian community is because we’re largely a collective of immigrants. Many of us still identify more with our countries of origin than we do Canada, so bringing so many different peoples together for one common interest often proves… difficult.

But that doesn’t mean we stop trying.

While we don’t have anything near the scale of America’s NAACP and HBCUs (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Historically Black Colleges and Universities—look ’em up!) or the nearly 43 million people in our population (with about 50% descending from the common origin of slave trade), we’re still stronger together than we are individually. We all bring something to the table, and if we took all of that together to meet all of our needs, well. That’s simply a force that couldn’t be ignored!

Give Derrick Raphael, Esq.’s submission a read and learn why he felt compelled to build an organisation to support the superstars of tomorrow with Global Trailblazers of Today!

As for me, the month’s not over yet, so if you’re looking for me, I’m off working on the next tale from the 2.9!

Until then,

–case p.


What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #21, Derrick Raphael, Esq., Chief Education Officer, Global Trailblazers of Today — CAUFP Profile ImageBeing Black Canadian as a recent immigrant from the United States means a lot, actually. I have been able to “escape” Trump’s new US for Canada’s focus on inclusion and diversity. Even though I have been in Canada for less than two years I know it is not perfect, but the US has become more divided than I can remember due to the direction of the new administration. I feel that being Black Canadian means you have a unique opportunity to blaze your own path if you are willing to work hard enough. I plan to do so.

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #20, Zetta Elliott, PhD, Author & Educator

Being part of the 2.9 can be stifling.

When you’re part of a minority this small, you can feel like you don’t have a voice. Like you’re lacking in community. Or that you’ll never find your place with the colour of your skin or the differences in your culture. And so, with so much stacked up against us, not everyone stays. Artists move away all the time in pursuit of success. My grandparents moved back to Jamaica. And Zetta Elliott, PhD, back for a second Tale from the 2.9, made the short trip to Brooklyn, New York more than 20 years ago, where an entry new world lay in wait!

If anything, I think that Zetta’s perspective from the outside looking in is one sorely needed in Canadian conversation, where our polite undertones hold us back from honestly approaching ideas that make us uncomfortable. It’s that objectivity and separation from everything going on in our nation that lets us see our issues for what they are, with the hope that one day the issues that’ve plagued us entirely too long will be part of our past, where they belong.

Enjoy Zetta’s submission (I know I always do), and I’ll see you tomorrow for another Tale from the 2.9!

Until then,

–case p.


What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

I’m proud to be Canadian. I’ve been critical of the country and the limited opportunities available to Black Canadians, but I start every author presentation here in the US by telling kids that I’m an immigrant from Canada. The Black Canadian identity is all about hybridity for me—I participate in multiple cultures and I’m the product of multiple histories, and that confounds many White Canadians who don’t understand intersectionality and like to imagine all Black people stepping off a boat or plane yesterday. Being a Black Canadian means never forgetting the sacrifices made by my Caribbean ancestors who gave up their status and professions in the 1950s to start from scratch in such a cold (and often hostile) place. Being a Black Canadian also means honouring my African American ancestors who came north hoping for a better life in the 1830s. The racism they encountered was so severe that it pushed them across the color line; my job as a Black Canadian writer living on the other side of that color line and the other side of the border is not to judge my ancestors but to tell the truth (as I see it) about “the promised land.”