By Lincoln DePradine
A newly unveiled sign in front of Toronto City Hall commemorating the “United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent’’, is a “powerful message’’ in the resolve at ending anti-Black racism, says Mayor John Tory.
Back in 2015, a sign was installed at Nathan Phillips Square for Toronto’s hosting of the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games.
It was only built to last a few weeks but its popularity grew, becoming one of the top three most visited attractions in Toronto and consistently ranked as one of the most Instagram-worthy spots in the city of more than 2.9 million. The sign wrap is used to promote events, projects and city priorities.
After five years, however, the sign was showing significant wear and tear, prompting city officials to build a new one instead of repairing the old one.
The new 10-feet tall sign, unveiled last week, features a new vinyl wrap on its outer edges, as well as an improved lighting system. It’s also more waterproof and graffiti-resistant than the 2015 original.
The new sign, designed by multidisciplinary artist and graphic designer, Danilo Deluxo McCallum, also incorporates colourful African fabric patterns and cultural symbols and is interspersed with portraits of Canadians of African descent “The design I created is multi-layered and multi-dimensional as our community is.
My aim simply was to capture our brilliance, our boldness and our beauty as Black people,” McCallum told reporters “As a Torontonian, I’m proud that the City of Toronto chose to recognize Black people and a Black artist’s work on the new sign. As a global city, I feel that this shows leadership and it sends a reminder that all of us should hold the city accountable in the face of injustices.’’ The McCallumde signed sign is titled, “Patterns of the People’’.
“International Decade for People of African Descent, which began 2015 and runs until 2024,was established to encourage the international community to recognize people of African descent as a distinct group, whose human rights must be promoted and protected.
Tory, who was joined at the unveiling ceremony by Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson, said that apart from the antiBlack racism message, the sign hopefully also will bring “a bit of hope and joy in the midst’’ of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“I am pleased to see that as part of the unveiling of our new sign, the first wrap will recognize the International Decade for People of African Descent. This sends a powerful message to our residents and the world that Toronto is committed to ending anti-Black racism here and that we are prepared to make the systemic changes that are needed.
“I encourage all Toronto institutions to demonstrate their commitment as well,’’ said Tory. “This new and more durable Toronto sign will ensure that it continues to be part of our city’s landscape for years to come.’’ For his part, Thompson said “Patterns of the People’’ represents “our hope that past failures can be rectified as we move forward during the International Decade for People of African Descent with critical investments, systemic changes, and openness to the voices and experiences of Black communities’’.