A Welcome Message From Our President

Welcome to the Revolution, welcome to UPlift Black!

Did you feel it? The call? The ROAR? “BLACK LIVES MATTER” 

Well I sure felt it, and I’m over here living every day, Black. But for me, the reason that it became louder, stronger and more powerful was fists raised in all different shades, chanting “BLACK LIVES MATTER” I saw a movement of ALLYSHIP.

Being an ally is tricky, with all the best intentions it not a term given, it’s earned by those you’re hoping to provide allyship to. For us at UPlift Black we believe that allyship is what moves a movement and we’re here ready to UPlift Black Visibility, Share Black Stories, Uplift Black Hair, Showcase and Support Black Artists. We’re not just inclusive of 2SLGBTQ+ people, our work is anchored in intersectionality and it’s represented by our leadership and our volunteers. We know lived experiences matter. UPlift Black is a call for change and we need our allies to strive to SHARE, SUPPORT and SHOW UP for Black People in their communities.

Share the stories of Blacks in Canada. Share the histories, triumphs and tragedies of your fellow Black neighbours, their ancestors and the very people who shaped the landscape we live on today. With Black stories told, truth and injustices are revealed. Change will happen.

Support the Black Lives Matter movement, demand justice for Black Lives everywhere! Look to your own backyard, how are Blacks in your community being treated? What can you do locally to make a difference?

Show Up! This is a literal call to show up for Black People. Attend the rallies and protests, sign the petitions, fundraise and donate to organizations servicing the needs of the Black Community. Support Black owned business, hire Black. Buy Black art. Call out racism and discrimination. Finally, take the time to educate your racist uncle or your transphobic cousin.

Our Newsletter is your starting place, a spotlight on Black people in Simcoe and Muskoka. We will share upcoming events, businesses you’ll love, Black humans you will want to know! This will be your bi-weekly guide on how to Share, Support and Show UP. We’re making it so easy for you!

So grab a bevvy and enjoy our very first UPlift Black Voices Newsletter.

Shelly Skinner


**A note on the use of x in words: recently there has been a large increase in representation of the non-binary identity and a movement toward gender neutrality and inclusivity. A common example you will see is in the use of Latinx. Because there were formerly only two terms that encompassed Latinx people (Latino and Latina), there was a movement to have gender inclusive terms that could be used. Thus, the x was born. It has now been adapted for many spaces in order to make them more inclusive. Womxn, as an example, was born of a need to create a place where non-binary folx feel included in the conversation.**

UPlift Black Art

We are featuring our very own UPlift Black Art & Aesthetic Coordinator – Sean George! He is an artist, art educator, and cultural worker. Sean, your art is transcendent – thank you for sharing with us!

Incessantly required to

Establish my humanity

To be clean, dressed neatly,

Speak clearly, and only

When spoken to.

Listen extra carefully

Seem knowledgeable but not.

Comment with questions

Of interest, 

Never negative

Disdain from disagreement.


Don’t live next door to you

Don’t live in the ghetto

Have a job, not a good one

Welfare out of the question

Be the poster boy for

Public transit

No fancy cars, 

A paid for beaten up 

Flintstones foot pedal

Bumper sticker –

My other car is 

A ten speed.


A separate system of


Alarms go off 

When I enter

Police pull me over

When I pass by

Forfeit my rights

For your not so

Southern comfort.


Step aside

So you can glide by

Cast my eyes down

Never observe your nose


Consider myself lucky to

Get your hand me downs

Your sloppy seconds.


Incessantly required to

Establish my humanity.

My sister in exile,

Back home the entropy has begun – the dirt has roiled up with tears and hollow laughter.

Dreams and shadows fight for cheap relics and parched land. The scales of justice are

weighed down with banal soundbites of Googled information.

Expect delays on your journey to truth and reconciliation; the marathon of hope is a goat

rodeo that goes up and down the mountain.

What of me you ask……………..I have become mired in technological distractions – a

constant consumer of fantasy. There was a time when I had some kernels to offer and

wisdom to dispense. Creativity is abysmal, it looms large on a conveyor belt – rhetorical

corporate propaganda. I have become a somnambulist drone.

The golden mean has melted, planet earth is in heat and ready for its apocalyptical

close-up. Time does not heal wounds, but sutures that place where we once read

between the lines – all narratives are now being obliterated.

Rainbows have become a pathetic pastiche of the past. Our castles in the air, our

monumental memories, turn to silt and rotting sinew………….the entropy continues.

 Are you a local (Simcoe/Muskoka) Black artist or do you know one that should be featured? Email us at blackart@upliftblack.org. 

Project UPdates

UPlift Black Youth Care Packages

Thank you to every individual and business who donated items. Thank you to the businesses that acted as drop-off locations. Thank you to the volunteers who have picked up items at the drop-off locations, helped sort and organize items at our facility. The generosity and care of our community is being felt by all involved. We have started to contact the families that will be receiving packages to make sure that the care package contents reflect the interest and needs of each child. If you have not received a call – expect one this week! Deliveries and pickups of care packages will take place during the week of August 18th – 21st.

Book Club

There are two sides to Anti-oppression work – social services and education. Most of UPlift Black’s mission is to provide services to help UPlift members of the community who are Black. However, we believe in order to be truly prepared to dismantle systems of oppression, especially anti-Black racism, then we must also be armed with knowledge. Education, including collective and community learning, is the foundation for a peaceful society. It paves the way for us to be prepared to discuss the systems and institutions that are problematic in our community.

UPlift Black wants to prepare you with the tools you need to unpack your own biases, work through your place in this hxstoric movement, and disarm those who seek to uphold these systems of oppression. In order to do this, we are starting a book club! We will be featuring books for all ages by Black authors. Stay tuned for announcements in the coming weeks about which titles we will be starting with first!

Terms to Know

Anti-Black Racism

Let’s talk about racism first – racism is a system of ideas, stereotypes, policies, and procedures that oppress a group of people based on their skin colour. When we talk about anti-Black racism specifically, we are talking about the unique hxstory of oppression that members of African diaspora worldwide have endured. This particular branch of racism is rooted in a shared hxstory of enslavement and colonization. Here are some stats about anti-Black racism in Canada:

  • Did you know that slavery was practised in Canada for just over 200 years?
  • Did you know that the last segregated school in Ontario was closed in 1965?
  • Did you know that  the last segregated school in Canada was closed in 1983?
  • Did you know that the average Black Canadian earns only 75 cents for every non-racialized Canadian dollar?

Racism is pervasive and all around us. Unless you look for patterns in how people are treated, it may be invisible to you. Anti-Black racism is real and has real consequences for Black people. (Centennial College 2020)


You may have heard this word before, but may not have fully thought about how it affects you. There are many facets of identity, most of which are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This includes age, race, ethnicity, religious or spiritual affiliation, socioeconomic status, ability, gender expression and identity, sexual orientation, assigned or chosen sex, education level, and many more. Some identities are visible (race and assumed gender or sex), while some are internal and therefore sometimes harder to see (disability, socioeconomic status, education level). Whether you realize it or not, your identity shapes how you navigate the world.


Intersectionality is the concept that your identity is not just one facet: you are a multi-faceted individual.

Think about your own identities. What is your race? If you are Black, are you only Black? The answer is likely ‘no’. You are made up of many identities. These identities come together to form a unique person. Let’s use an example involving pay; comparing the earnings of full-time workers, did you know that Canadian womxn, on average, are paid 69 cents for every dollar a man earns? However, this does not cover all womxn in Canada:

  • Did you know that immigrant Canadian womxn earn 71 cents for every dollar a man earns?
  • Did you know that racialized womxn earn 69 cents for every dollar a man earns?
  • Did you know that Indigenous womxn earn 67 cents for every dollar a man earns?
  • Did you know that womxn with disabilities earn 54 cents for every dollar a man earns?

The unique challenges that each person faces as a result of their intersecting identities is called intersectionality. Being a womxn who is Black and transgender is different from being a white womxn. It is important to ensure that your activism is intersectional in practise so that it includes all walks of life. (Canadian Women’s Foundation 2020)


Privilege is the concept that you walk around the world and navigate it differently than others, but your particular identities could make life just a little bit easier for you than for someone else. Some spaces are made for you, and some are not.

When we describe privilege, it is very important to note that having privilege does not mean that you did not struggle; it simply means that you did not struggle because of one particular facet of your identity. For example, a white person who is experiencing poverty likely struggles to make ends meet – however, this white person did not struggle because of the colour of their skin. This is privilege.

Back in 1988, Peggy McIntosh described the concept of the Invisible Knapsack:

“I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks.”

Here are some examples of unearned privileges you may have if you are white. As a white person:

  • I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
  • I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
  • I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
  • I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.
  • I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

For more information, click here

Know Your Hxstory

On August 2nd, 1849, Harriet Tubman escaped slavery to the North and became arguably the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was a network of people, including Black and non-Black allies, who gave shelter and aid to enslaved people who were seeking refuge from the slavery conditions of the South. (History.com 2020)

Did you know Simcoe County was a part of the Underground Railroad? Oro, now known as Oro-Medonte, was one of the last stops for enslaved people who escaped to ‘freedom’. Did you know the village of Shanty Bay and its formation was heavily influenced by the Underground Railroad? Many African-American refugees first settled near the water (bay) in small homes known as shanties, thus the name Shanty Bay.

To read more about Oro-Medonte’s history click here OR here

**If you haven’t started using the term “enslaved” – START! Slavery was not a choice, people were stolen from their lands against their will, people were born into slavery – people are and were not slaves, they’re enslaved people. Let’s give them the dignity they have always deserved**

UPlift Book Recommendations



Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison and Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth 




Johnny Lightning and the Magic Yellow Yam by Roxann N. Whittingham, Ms. Marvel: No Normal Vol 1 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona and Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead 




The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison, Seasons of Love by Roxann N. Whittingham, and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

***To purchase a copy of Johnny Lightning and the Magic Yellow Yam and Seasons of Love, please email our local author Roxann N. Whittingham at roxwhitty75@yahoo.com ***

UPcoming Important Dates

Date: Saturday, August 15th, 2020 at 2pm

Event: Virtual Gumbo & Beer Bread Cooking Class

Location: Your kitchen – Class will take place via Zoom  

For more details and how to sign up, click here.


Date: Saturday, August 22nd, 2020 at 1 pm – 5 pm

Event: Simcoe County – Black Lives Matter Peaceful Protest

Location: Arboretum Sunnidale Park, Barrie ON

This event is to bring the people of Simcoe County together, Black, POC, White alike. There will be speakers sharing their stories, live music, art displays, food and more! Come on out and support your local Black community!

More details here. 


Date: Sunday, August 23rd, 2020 

Event: Soul Sunday Meal Delivery  

Taste of Soul! offers a selection of entrées with sides, desserts and breads made with love and dripping with southern goodness! A limited number of orders will be taken, so get your order in early! Order deadline is Tuesday, August 18th, 2020.

For more information and to sign up click here or email: atasteofsoul4you@gmail.com 

UPlift Spotlight

Janie Cooper-Wilson: Historian 

Photographer Chris So, featured in the Toronto Star on Sunday, May 3, 2015. Here you see Janie Cooper-Wilson standing in front of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, located in Oro-Medonte. 

If you don’t know who Janie Cooper-Wilson is, get learning! Start here and then simply google her name to read so much more about her. She is a force to be reckoned with and has made sure our Black History does not disappear. Thank you for lighting the way and making sure we remember who we are!  


JJ’s Caribbean Cuisine

 If you’re in the mood for authentic Caribbean and Jamaican food, look no further! JJ’s has got you covered! Their “cuisine includes a mixture of cooking techniques, flavors, spices and influences from the indigenous people on the island.” With mouthwatering dishes made of natural, fresh produce, herbs, and spices; you’ll be planning your next visit before your last bite! Thank you JJ’s for the delicious food you bring to our community and for your generous support with the UPlift Black Youth Care Package project! For more information click here.

Help us support the community! Email press@upliftblack.org to UPlift and spotlight a Black owned business or Black individual within the Simcoe/Muskoka area. 

Activated Ally

Drum roll please………

Our very first Activated Ally is Sarah Downey! Sarah is an incredible asset to our UPlift Black family! She has been here from the beginning ready and willing to help any and every way possible! Without her dedication and hard work behind the scenes we wouldn’t have our incredible website you all are currently on! She continues to give us access to her connections and network to help grow UPlift Black. She also constantly looks for ways to support the Black Lives Matter Movement.  Thank you for sharing, supporting and continuously showing UP! 


Do you know someone who shares, supports, and shows UP?! Nominate your Activated Ally and tell us why they should be featured! Email press@upliftblack.org

A Little Something Extra

Have you ever wondered how to close the gaps on your disposable mask?  



Click on the link here for a descriptive video!