TSA Playlist | February: Black History Month
February is Black History Month in Canada. Dating back to 1926 in the United States and officially recognized by Canada’s House of Commons in 1995, this commemorative month looks to heighten awareness of Black history in Canada and the often untold role and stories of Black Canadians in the growth and development of our country. It is a time to celebrate and honour the work of Black Canadians and their communities. It is also a time to reflect on systemic inequities within our society — including within the architectural profession — that have led to a long history of displacement, exclusion, segregation and erasure of Canada’s Black stories and communities.
Whether it is documenting current and past Black settlements and communities across the country or reflecting on the built legacy and story of one of the most important North American architects of his time, this month’s playlist brings together a selection of free-to-stream documentaries, films and shorts exploring Black stories within the built environment — both in Canada and across the border.
1991 l 35 mins
Africville was a small Black settlement within the city limits of Halifax, Nova Scotia that dated back to the mid 1800s. In the 1960s, the families who lived there were uprooted and their homes demolished in the name of urban renewal and integration. With the help of archival photographs and films and featuring interviews with former residents, their descendants and some of the decision-makers, this documentary tell the story of that painful relocation.
Bonus content: This 2020 2-minute animation titled “Africville:The Black community bulldozed by the city of Halifax” was produced by Historica Canada and provides a concise history of this settlement and its destruction. In 2010 the City of Halifax apologized and rebuilt the church as a museum to tell the story of the community. A class action lawsuit by former residents for restitution continues.
2002 l 9:52 min
This award-winning animated short made by Haitian Candian filmmaker Martine Chartrand’s dives into the heart of Black culture with an exhilarating trip through history. Watch as a young boy traces his roots through the stories his grandmother shares with him about the events and places that shaped their cultural heritage.
Tallawah Abroad, Being Black in Toronto
2019 l 7 min (full series: 44:10 mins)
BEING BLACK IN TORONTO features 6 short films from emerging directors that came out of the Fabienne Colas Foundation’s BEING BLACK IN CANADA, a mentorship and creation program entirely dedicated to Black filmmakers. Tallwawah Abroad, directed by Sharine Taylor, tells the story of Little Jamaica, a 23 block community that once had the highest concentration of Black businesses in Canada, and how the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown has affected this once thriving neighbourhood. (Tallawah Abroad starts at minute 13:29)
2020 | 56:03 min
Nicknamed “Architect to the Stars,” architect Paul Revere Williams was one of the most successful architects of his time. But at the height of his career he wasn’t always welcome in the buildings he designed because of his race. Hollywood’s Architect will tell the story of how he used talent, determination and even charm to defy the odds and create a celebrated body of work.
Photo by Soniakapadia
2018 | 59 min
Jussie Smollett travels to Memphis, Tennessee to witness the growing movement to bring down Confederate monuments and commemorate the deaths of thousands of African-Americans lynched during decades of racial terror. On his journey, Jussie meets the brother of a lynching victim and becomes part of his seven-decade-long quest for justice and meets the famed civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson who brings him to the newly unveiled Museum for Peace and Justice.
Looking for More Resources?
Looking for more films and resources on Black cultures in Canada? York University’s African Canadian Online is a great online resource created by the Centre for the Study of Black Cultures in Canada sharing information on African Canadian artists and their works, as well as links to other resources.
Organizations Making a Difference
Building equity and fostering diversity in the architecture and design industry takes work. Below are two local organizations working to address it and the inequitable outcomes that result from it – making a difference in our built environment.
Black Architects and Interior Designers Association (BAIDA)
BAIDA is a non profit organization made up of 100 students, planners, interior designers, and architects. BAIDA aims to support diversity, equity and inclusion in the profession of architecture and interior design. Their tools are advocacy, mentorship, networking, and outreach.
In doing so, BAIDA can begin to address the issues of inequitable outcomes and a lack of diversity within the architecture and design industry. BAIDA members are committed to impacting their cities through design, engagement and education and hope to minimize the effects of discrimination in communities and create opportunities for other minorities within the fields of architecture and design.
Black Urbanism TO
Black Urbanism TO is a non-profit organization and has been in operation since 2018. Their mission is to engage Black communities in re-envisioning our neighbourhoods to support our social, economic and cultural advancement.
About the TSA Playlist
The TSA Playlist is a monthly curated list of free online films touching upon issues of architecture, the built environment and design. Our thematic lists do more than just entertain; they inspire us, enrich us, and challenge our perspectives helping bring the conversation of the built environment to new audiences and encourage conversation and debate.
Have a suggestion of a film or theme you would like to see featured? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to also check out the past editions of the TSA Playlist!
Our TSA Playlist films are available free of charge for online screening through a number of streaming services in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond including Kanopy, TVO, CBC Gem, and Hoopla. Our monthly list includes viewing links on platforms available in the region. Some of these streaming services might require you to have a free library or university card to access the service. See list below for where these streaming services are available.
Kanopy is currently available through the following library systems and universities in southern Ontario: Toronto PL, Hamilton PL, Oshawa PL (until July 3), Stratford PL, Newmarket PL, Whitby PL, London PL, Guelph PL, University of Toronto, Ryerson University, University of Waterloo, George Brown College, Seneca College, Centennial College and Sheridan College. If you don’t see your library listed, you can verify if your library has made Kanopy available here. Got a university card instead? You can check if your university has made Kanopy available here.
Hoopla is currently available through the following library systems and universities in southern Ontario: Toronto PL, Barrie PL, Kingston PL, Mississauga PL, Kitchener PL, Niagara Falls PL, Peterborough PL and Orillia PL.