Black Futures Now TO is a collective of young Black community and city builders based in Toronto and the GTA. Our work is grounded in intersectional and Black feminist principles. This group is inspired by past and ongoing Black led social, political, artistic movements such as: afrofuturism, Black urbanism, and global Black feminist and queer movements.
Our mission is to help address an urgent need for Black spaces in Toronto where Black residents of all genders may creatively engage with each other across communities, generations and experiences. We do so by hosting events, creating programs, cultivating virtual platforms and partnering with like minded organizations, and programs, across the GTA focused on issues important to our communities.
BFN TO was born out of a frustration with the lack of Black community spaces in Toronto. We first sought to address this problem by organizing the first ever, Black Futures Now Conference.The conference brought together Black community builders, creatives, and thinkers, to share their work and strategies for grappling with anti-Black racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia and other intersecting challenges to building Black communities across the GTA.
Since the conference we have hosted several more events, each dealing with subjects that are of importance to the BFN TO community, and Black people across the city. And In 2019, BFN TO launched our first program, the Mapping Black Futures Project (MBF), a Black community and story mapping project.In creating this collective, our hope is to create opportunities where the ideas needed to help create a more anti-racist and Black feminist Toronto are nurtured.
Timeline2016 | Black Futures Now Conference in Partnership with the York's Centre for feminist Research
The Black Futures Now Conference aims to create a space in which Black gender nonconforming folks, youth, and women can come together to discuss and workshop ideas around social and political issues they care most about, ranging from politics around representation in creative and social justice fields. Inspired by movements like Black Girls Are Magic and Black Girls Are from the Future happening stateside, we hope to create a space to address an urgent need within Toronto’s Black communities for Black gender nonconforming folks, youth,women to creatively engage with each other across communities, generations and experiences. In creating this event, our goal is to ferment the ideas and visions needed to help create a more anti-racist and Black feminist Toronto. We also hope to provide an opportunity to develop the social and political strategies needed to realize those visions.2017 | Breaking Through: Making Art and Performing While Black In Toronto (Collaboration with GAL)
Breaking Through is a fundraiser and community building event. This event has been put together in collaboration with Girl’s Art League (GAL) and will start with a talk and end in a dance party. The talk will feature Black artists sharing their stories about breaking into the arts in Toronto and some of the challenges faced by Black women and genderqueer artists in sustaining a music/arts career and can be done to make it easier for emerging artists to build their careers in the city. The panel will feature performer and producing manager at the Storefront Theatre, Sedina Fiati, performance artist from Bujumbura in Burundi based in Toronto, Kim Ninkuru, and Gloria Assee, Co-Founder and Art Director of Lucid Dream.2017 | Spaces Between Us
Spaces Between Us aims to create a space for engaged self-identified women, non-binary, gender non-conforming (GNC) and Two-Spirit Black and Indigenous community/city builders to discuss issues that mutually interests them and impacts their communities. The workshop is grounded in an expansive definition of community/city builder. We use the word to describe anyone invested in their communities and/or doing or interested in getting involved in work to better them. Which means the workshop welcomes artists, writers, activists, and anyone interested in understanding Toronto in ways that are grounded in the perspectives of Black and Indigenous folks. We hope this workshop helps participants gain a greater understanding and appreciation for some of the systemic challenges they face doing the kind of work they wish to accomplish through their activism, city/community building, or art. We also hope to cultivate an environment where there is potential for collaboration among participants in achieving their goals.2019–2020 | Mapping Black Futures
Mapping Black Futures is an interactive story and community map. The aim of this project is to create an interactive community story and resource map led and informed by Black women and gender non-binary people living in the GTA. What makes this project unique is that it is both an asset map and a potential tool for community building. Using open mapping software, participants will create a map of organisations and collectives that serve Black young people across the city, a group traditionally excluded from community planning and urban design decision making processes in Toronto. Participants will also map landmarks that highlight Black histories and sites (both real and conceptual) that hold current social or historical cultural significance to them, whether it is personal or community oriented.Growing Up Black – Collaboration with Shameless Magazine
Growing Up Black in Canada is a writers’ series brought to you by Black Futures Now Toronto in partnership with Shameless Magazine. The series is meant to bring forward local and personal Black histories that do not fit into mainstream narratives about what it means to be a young person in Canada. Throughout the series we will highlight the non-fiction work of five young writers from various backgrounds. Through their stories, we will explore what growing up Black in Canada has meant to them, and the impact that these experiences have had on their sense of self. These pieces explore themes of personal growth, systemic injustices, community, self-awareness, longing, and joy that are unique to each writer, and speak to the particularity of experiences that comes from growing up in different locales in Toronto and beyond. Our hope is that by sharing them, they will resonate with others in ways that push them to look at who they are more closely and Canadian history, as well as cultural identities more critically.
Safer Spaces Policy
Black Futures Now Toronto (BFN TO) is a grassroots collective dedicated to creating safer spaces for Black people of all gender identities, sexualities, and ethnicities.
We prioritize the voices of people who experience anti-Blackness, queer and transphobia, and misogynoir. To help us achieve this goal, BFN TO asks all participants, volunteers, team members, speakers, and allies to ensure that their language and behaviour is reflective of this policy and its goals.
We want to foster an environment that is open to a diversity of perspectives, even when it challenges our own. However, our programs and events are not spaces for violence, for touching without consent, for intolerance of religious beliefs or lack thereof, for racist, ageist, sexist, hetero-sexist, transphobic, transmisogynistic, ableist, classist, patriarchal views, or for any other behaviour or language that may perpetuate the oppressions.Things we can all do to create a safer space:
- Respect people’s physical and emotional boundaries
- Always get explicit verbal consent before touching someone
- Be aware that raising your voice or other aggressive body language may be understood as abusive behaviour by others
- Respect people’s differing opinions, beliefs, and points of view
- Be responsible for your own actions. Be aware that your actions do have an effect on others despite what your intentions may be
The Safer Spaces Policy articulates our stance in challenging oppressive and anti-Black social structures and creating opportunities where Black people can learn of and celebrate our diverse experiences and histories.
By attending our events or participating in our programming, you are agreeing to behave in a manner that is in compliance with the BFN TO’s Safer Spaces Policy.