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Diversity Institute
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Black Experience Project - image of a black youth

The Black Experience Project in the Greater Toronto Area: "No research about us without us"


Making up 7% of the region's population and representing the highest proportion of Blacks among any census metropolitan area, and more than half of Canada's total Black population, the Black community of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has the potential to greatly influence the socio-economic competiveness of the entire GTA and beyond. Its contributions to the continued growth and success of the region cannot be understood, however, without recognizing and examining the lived experience of Black community members to identify systemic barriers that have thus far prevented them from reaching their economic potential.

The Environics Institute and Ryerson's Diversity Institute, with the United Way of Toronto and York Region, the YMCA of Greater Toronto and York, and the Jean Augustine Chair at York University released a ground-breaking research study focusing on the Black community in the GTA. The study included more than a 1500 in depth interviews providing both empirical data and compelling narratives.


The project takes a 3-step approach to working with the GTA’s Black community:

Phase 1 – Community Engagement
This phase is nearing completion and has entailed extensive outreach into the Black community, including 17 group discussion sessions with "Trailblazer" community leaders and individuals from many parts of the GTA.

Phase 2 – Research Design, Implementation, and Analysis
The rich information captured from Phase 1 of the project will guide the research design of Phase 2 of the project consisting of an in depth survey of 1,000-3,000 Black individuals in the GTA community.

Phase 3 – Post-study Dissemination and Engagement
Following the completion of the research, the findings will be broadly publicized, and sessions/events will be organized to actively engage the Black community and policy makers to consider implications and next steps. Collaborating partners and other supporters-at-large will have access to the study and its insights to help shape future plans and goals.


The results of the Black Experience Project are intended to provide valuable insight and direction when identifying policies and other initiatives that will contribute to the health and vibrancy of the Black community, which will in turn increase the social and economic capital of Blacks in the GTA who have been steadily contributing to the region.

"Today's launch is a very important opportunity,” said Laura Mae Lindo, Senior Research Associate, Diversity Institute at Ryerson University. “It is an opportunity to speak openly about some of the real barriers facing Black communities in the GTA and beyond. For far too long we have debated the existence of anti-Black racism within the school system and ignored the impacts of ongoing streaming of Black students. The same can be said about the lack of attention paid to racism within workplaces - everyday experiences of racism that leave many Black community members fighting for economic justice. But I remain encouraged. Excitement in the community leading up to today’s release of the research suggests that this report will not sit on a shelf collecting dust within a pile of similar reports dating as far back as the 70s. My hope is that this report will help more people stand up against anti-Black racism by coming together to fight for true economic inclusion and to put an end to streaming Black students into less profitable courses and disciplines. I am hopeful that today we will make a collective decision to treat this report as a catalyst for real change."


Black Experience Project Phase I Report (2014) Black Experience Project Phase 2 Report (2017)
The Black Experience Project Phase 1 Report (2014) The Black Experience Project Phase 2: Overview Report (2017)