"This [is] our beginning, the origin of Black Lives Matter in Canada. From a Facebook thread to today, our lives have not been the same since. Indeed, Black Toronto has never been the same. Building on the momentum from those first years, government legislation has been passed, policies implemented, organizations started, funds announced, positions created, awards distributed, reviews and assessments made, organizations shifted, legal challenges litigated, and a community reawakened.
Most significantly, though, anti-Black racism is now a national discourse."
Excerpt from Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada, edited by Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson, and Syrus Marcus Ware
A year after the murder of Trayvon Martin still fresh in our collective memory, a Facebook thread of community leaders within the city of Toronto in November 2014, sowed the seeds for a child-friendly, accessible, spiritual event that would go on to inform the founding principles of Black Lives Matter—Toronto (BLM-TO), the first iteration of #BlackLivesMatter outside of the US.
This initial action centered the experience of Black communities in Canada, that uplifted the local stories not grabbing the headlines. This was the awakening and resurgence of Black activism in Canada.
Within 2 years, the momentum of Black Lives Matter in Canada grew significantly, growing demand for national organizing became clear. In 2016, Black Lives Matter—Toronto shut down the Pride Parade, calling for an end to anti-Black racism within Queer & Trans Black communitites. Following that, Black Lives Matter –Vancouver, the second chapter in Canada was founded and organized similar Pride protest demanding a ban on police in uniform at Pride. Later that summer, Black Lives Matter—Ottawa organized actions across the country when two police officers brutally beat Abdirahman Abdi to death with their bare hands. Within a year, the police killing of Pierre Coiolan in 2017 prompted the creation of Black Lives Matter—Montreal, who shut down the main stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival, forcing attendees and police to contend with the anti-Black policing in the city.
In 2017, Black Lives Matter — Canada was founded and began a three year incubation phase to better support chapters in partnership with the Black Lives Matter Global Network. The incubation phase involved the development of an organizational structure while simultaneously supporting the development of each new chapter.
Today, Black Lives Matter—Canada exists as a national resource for Black activism in Canada, by supporting independent local chapters and other Black-led community groups, launching Wildseed Centre for Art & Activism, and coordinating national campaigns such as Defund the Police, Black Mutual Aid Fund, and other programs.
Black Lives Matter—Canada is the result of our insistence on working toward a future where Black people living within and across colonial borders on stolen land are no longer denied their humanity. Black Lives Matter—Canada exists to resource, to support, and to mobilize around an affirmation for all Black life.