Creating a Legacy for Toronto

By Anthony Joseph

Former Governor General Michelle Jean

Last Sunday the Legacy Awards made its inaugural appearance in Toronto and what a spectacular event it was.

The Awards are Canada’s first all-Black awards program created to celebrate accomplishments in film, television, music, sports and culture, featured emerging and established Black Canadian talent.

Former Governor General Michelle Jean headed a list of what was a veritable Who’s Who of Black Canada. Everybody who was anybody was in the house to celebrate what has to be the largest production for Black Entertainment this city has ever seen.

The event was produced by the Black Academy, a creation of brothers Shamir Anderson and Stephen James, two dapper siblings who co-hosted a well put together show. Anderson and James have already achieved significant success on the Hollywood movie circuit.   

The rain could not dampen the spirit of those in attendance even as the black carpet walk required a tent to keep out the elements.  

The show was kicked off by the inimitable Kardinal Offishall, with rapper/poets Shantel May and Keisha Fresh keeping up the pace. That pace was quickened when five Black Canadian women — Melanie Fiona, Sate, Jully Black, Fefe Dobson and Alicia Mighty — brought the house down with a rousing rendition of Rise up!

ANDRE DE GRASSE took home the Athlete of the Year for his accomplishments in sport in Canada and around the world, and for his contribution to the Black Canadian identity.

KAYLA GREY, was granted the Jamil French Award in recognition of her unmistakable talent and activism.


Grey is the host and co-executive producer of TSN’s The Shift. She appears regularly as an anchor of Sports Centre, and reports courtside for TSN’s live coverage of the Toronto Raptors.

FABIENNE COLAS got The Visionnaire Award for her tireless work showcasing Black Canadian storytellers. Colas is a film festival founder and organizer, an award-winning actress, filmmaker, and a diversity and inclusion consultant, who works passionately to support diversity off and on screen. She manages 12 film festivals including the Montreal International Black Film Festival, Canada’s largest Black film festival. As chair of the Fabienne Colas Foundation, she promotes and awards grants to independent films and artists.

The Legacy Awards’ Digital Creator Fan Choice Award went to Ika Wong from a field that included Basement Gang, Keshia Rush, King Bach, Kissy Duerré.

“Andre, Kayla, and Fabienne are leaders in their respective fields and in our community,” said Stephan James. “My brother and I are thrilled that The Legacy Awards has recognized their amazing accomplishments, their dedication to their work, and their passion for the community. Between them, the performers, presenters, and our guests of Black talent are all in one room. tonight is dope.”

Brother Shamier Anderson, Co-Founder of The Black Academy added, “The inaugural Legacy Awards is the culmination of a big dream Stephan and I had years ago and the hard work of the incredible teams at Insight Productions, CBC, and The Black Academy,” said. “We’re so pumped that our community is coming together for an unprecedented night to celebrate Black Canadian talent. But for us, this is not just a moment; The Black Academy is working year-round to

Ika Wong

honour and empower Black Canadians and to ensure younger generations are inspired by all the incredible Black talent this country has to offer.”

Performers included Randell Adjei, Fefe Dobson, Melanie Fiona, Shantel May, and Alicia Mighty, while Jordan Alexander, Amanda Brugel, and Tyrone Edwards were presenters. They were joined by Savannah Ré, DJ 4KORNERS, comedian/actor King Bach, and media personalities Arisa Cox, Brandon Gonez, Kathleen Newman-Bremang, Amanda Parris, and Odario Williams.

The brothers Anderson and James have signed a three-year agreement with the CBC, so keep the TV sets turned on, they will be back next year.