A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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General History


Once Opiyo Oloya settled himself in Canada, he made an important move back to his African roots. He keeps in close touch with the situation in Uganda and started writing a regular column for The Vision, Uganda's leading newspaper, bringing both an engaged and removed perspective of current events as they unfold. Oloya also became the host of a radio programme, broadcasting the sounds of African music over the airwaves of Toronto and feeding a growing audience for African music and culture in Canada.

Over the last decade, Toronto had developed into the largest centre for African music in North America, with each region of Africa contributing its own, distinct, musical tradition. AfroFest, showcasing both local and international musical and cultural performers, has become a annual event drawing crowds in the thousands.

African-Canadian artists in general have a passion for their native cultures which provides inspiration in creating their own music, writing, poetry and painting. Numerous festivals celebrate African Identity, bringing African artists together for an exchange of ideas and promotion of their talents. The organization CELAFI (Celebrating Africa Identity) links international black artists and their Canadian counterparts through annual conferences, workshops and performances focussing on visual arts, literature, music, dance and film.(17)

In the world of film, most of the of the productions by African-Canadians are social-issue documentaries, reflecting the Canadian documentary tradition. They are also indicative of a more culturally specific response that has been termed "a will to responsibility." This involves a fervent attachment to the history of African people worldwide and an interest in expressing it within Western culture. When a filmmaker takes up a camera, for example, there is an urge to correct the wrongs that have been done or interpreted before -- there is an urge to "tell the true story."(18)

In the literary field, English teacher Carol Talbot has published works including Growing Up Black in Canada, which received an Excellence in Education Certificate from the Ontario Secondary Teacher's Federation. Talbot has received the new playwright's award from Theatre Fountainhead for The Gathering. George Elliott Clarke's works include Fire on the Water: An Anthology of Black Nova Scotian Writing, and Saltwater Spirituals and Deeper Blues. He has also written conference papers on "Africville and Africadian Literature: The Death and Resurrection of Africadian Cultural Nationalism" for the Black Cultural Centre and Dartmouth Heritage Museum.(19)

The Canadian expression of African dance celebrates African identity by reflecting the collective struggles and resistance faced by the African diaspora (people of African descent who live all over the world) and their triumphs and achievements as they reclaim their heritage. Len Gibson is one of Canada's pioneers in dance. One of his ensembles, titled "One Hundred Years of Black Dance in the New World," took a detailed look at the influence that dancers of African descent have had on mainstream dance forms, via clubs, vaudeville and professional theatre. Usafiri is a Toronto-based company under the artistic direction of Vivine Scarlet. This company is committed to the preservation of traditional African dances and drumming that are traditionally performed on festive occasions.(20)

The Canadian & World Encyclopedia
(McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1998).

The Integration of Black African Immigrants in Canadians Society, by A.B.K. Kasozi
(Canadian African Newcomer Aid Centre, Toronto, 1988).

The Black Presence in the Canadian Mosaic, A Study of Perception and the Practice of Discrimination Against Black in Metropolitan Toronto, by Wilson A. Head
(Ontario Human Rights Commission, Toronto, 1975).

CELAFI, Celebrating African Identity
(CAN: BAIA, Toronto, 1992)

The Blacks in Canada, A History by Robin W. Winks
(McGill-Queen's Press, Kingston, 1997).

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