“Respect our Canadian BlackLit Elders”: a gathering of Black literary voices

In Ajax – Canada’s Blackest municipality

By Greg Frankson

Greg Frankson Sanker – the writer

A gathering of powerful Black literary voices with the theme “Respect our Canadian BlackLit Elders” happens on the evening of February 26 as a celebration of Black History Month. Featuring the words of four incredible authors published by Dundurn Press (Tanya Turton, Sifton Tracey Anipare, Mary Anne Chambers, and the late Aaron Berhane, represented by his daughter Freweini Berhane), the event will take place in Canada’s Blackest municipality.

While some may believe that the city in question is Toronto, or perhaps Brampton, it may come as a surprise that the correct answer is the town of Ajax, where one in six residents is Black. Ajax is at the centre of a community of over 66,000 Black residents in Durham Region – a place where there is a strong need for more Black community focused artistic and cultural programming within the region’s borders.

To help fill this gap, BlackLit Durham was launched this past October. The family-friendly bimonthly series provides a platform for literary artists in all genres, whether they express themselves through poetry, fiction, nonfiction, dub, storytelling, or spoken word. It is a collaborative effort between AfriCANthology Canada, the Ajax Public Library, the St. Francis Centre for Community, Arts, and Culture, and What’s Your Story Author Services.

The late Aaron Berhane
Tanya Turton

BlackLit Durham is an inspiring example of the positivity that comes when public institutions work directly with community partners to provide a space for cultural expression and celebration. And it all happens in Durham, close to home for one of Canada’s largest Black communities!

People of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to attend BlackLit Durham on Sunday, February 26 at the St. Francis Centre (78 Church St. S.). Doors open at 6:30 pm, and the show runs from 7-9 pm. Admission is FREE! Get your tickets on Eventbrite or through blacklitdurham.com.