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Fortunately, I had access to unpublished work like Ardean Peters’ piece below, but I’m surprised that things worked out this way.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.
I 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,
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?
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.
In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?
Oh my goodness, that is a good question. Well, my current personal mission statement is hovering somewhere around: Empathy, Connection, Authenticity & Service. As I’m trying to navigate my place in the world and what my purpose is, I’m finding I’m gravitating towards these 4 words. I feel that empathy is key and I’m striving to keep that at the forefront of my thoughts. I would hope I can get to a place that all the interactions I have with family, friends and strangers and the actions I take or things I create leave people feeling a little bit happier and good.
Being part of such a small minority, it’s not hard to believe that most everyone around you might not get what it’s like to be Black in Canada — what’s one thing you’d like the other 97% of Canadians to know about being a Black Canadian?
I’m just like you. I’m just chocolate coloured ?
If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?
I think while it’s hard to ignore the injustices that we see or unfair representation of ourselves, we have to work hard collectively to build what we want to see. Fight less. Build and love more.
Outside my 9 to 5, I’m a Photographer of People & Light, specialising in Personal Portraits, Family Lifestyle Portraits & Business Portraits. I love meeting new people & families (I heart little kids!), hanging out with them and learning about who they are. Photography has turned out to be the perfect forum for me to pursue my creative side while allowing for the opportunity to connect & engage with many different people.