The Black and Caribbean Book Affair kicks off October 12th


The Caribbean Camera’s Yolanda Marshall will be presented with the My People Award

By Neil Armstrong

Yolanda Marshall

Blackhurst Cultural Centre: The People’s Residence will present the 2023 My People Award to children’s literature author, Yolanda T. Marshall at the opening night of its three-day Black and Caribbean Book Affair on October 12.

The My People Award is presented to an African, Black or Caribbean writer in Canada who is excelling at their craft and telling the stories of our heritage in their work.

Marshall is an award-winning Guyanese-born Canadian author who writes diverse, inclusive and festive children’s literature. She ventured into the world of publishing in 2008 and is the author of 17 books. Marshall is currently agented and traditionally published; in 2019 she received a multi-book deal.

“My son is my greatest inspiration,” says Marshall on her website.

Marshall’s books include: A Piece of Black Cake for Santa, Miles Away In The Caribbean, Sweet Sorrel Stand, C is for Carnival, Hot Cross Buns for Everyone and one of CBC’s best Canadian picture books of 2020 and TD’s Top Recommended Reads for 2023 – My Soca Birthday Party: with Jollof Rice and Steel Pans.

She is also a columnist/editor for Caribbean Camera newspaper where her column “Lit Corner” promotes the books of other marginalized, Canadian authors.

For the last few years in Canada, Marshall has read for over 25,000 students annually, and was recently invited by a New York school board into their classrooms.

She appeared in numerous television interviews, magazine and news articles and is a recipient of the Caribbean media Loop Awards: Author of the Year 2022, CBC’s 2020 Best Canadian Picture Book List, CIBWE Top 100 Black Women to Watch 2017, and one of Canada’s 100 Accomplished Black Women in 2022.

Marshall is a Membership Chair on the CANSCAIP Board (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers), a professional member of The Writer’s Union of Canada and a PAL member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators). 

From October 12 to 14, the annual Black and Caribbean Book Affair under the theme “Books Open Our Worldview, Bans Limit It” and taglineAffirming African presence and history, no erasure here — International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024)” will showcase the works of several authors, among them GauZ’ (Armand Patrick Gbaka-Brédé) whose book, Standing Heavy, was shortlisted for the 2023 International Booker Prize.

 The closing day on Saturday, October 14, is filled with activities starting at 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. with a workshop titled “The World of Distribution – the Dos and Don’ts” for aspiring writers who want to know about the industry.

 To celebrate “Culture Days,” Yolanda Marshall and Suzette Vidale will host

a story time and steel pan event incorporating reading and soca music for kids from 1:00-2:00 p.m.

The Book Affair closes with a community conversation about “Black Women, Oral History and Social Activism in Canada.”

“As the keepers of memories, communities, and family histories, Black women lives and experiences respond to important silences, gaps, and omissions often missing, buried, or unrecorded in traditional archives and national histories. In this session, three Black women historians, at different stages in their careers, explore ways to collate, tell, and preserve the life stories of Black women in Canada. In conversation with community members, we will consider how oral histories challenge traditional historical narratives and why it is important for Black women to tell their histories on their own terms,” notes a synopsis of the event.

All of the events take place at Blackhurst Cultural Centre – The People’s Residence at 777 Bathurst Street in Toronto, Canada.