Established in July 2020 by The 519’s Black staff members, The 519 Black Collective was designed to take up space to confront and advocate against anti-Black racism, and promote equity for all Black people, specifically Black 2 Spirit, queer, and trans communities. The collective was formed after the murder George Floyd in the United States and since then, has only grown.
Since its inception, The Black Collective:
- informs The 519’s day-to-day work, programs, and services, as well as serves as a site of connection and support for Black staff members,
- plays a key role in forging mutually-beneficial relations with other community partners across the city,
- worked with the Confronting Anti-Black Racism (CABR) unit to support and develop staff training and capacity building, and look forward to continuing their relationship with the team,
- spotlighted and promoted local Black 2SLGBTQ-owned/run businesses,
- gathered inputs for and created ‘My Blackness Is’, an audio projectencapsulating and celebrating the diverse voices of Toronto’s Black queer communities,
- organized a community panel titled ‘Black Queer Joy’, featuring a diverse panel of Black 2SLGBTQ+ community leaders, advocates, educators, and artists: Tanitiã Munroe, Aina-Nia Ayo’dele, Irvin Washington, Ian McKnight, and Tatiana Ferguson. The panel discussed how people could make their way back to the pleasure and happiness that inspires and uplifts Black queer culture and lays the foundation for rich futures amidst difficult times.
”The existence of the Collective reflects their ancestors’ determination for justice, love, and liberation; a legacy that fuels their ongoing resistance today.
The 519 Black Collective logo is designed by Jameel Nehmbard(he/him), known as Legacy. A member of the Collective, Legacy has also been actively involved in Toronto’s ballroom community for 10+ years. He is formally known as Godfather Legacy Constantine of the Kiki House of Constantine in the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance.
The logo’s powerful imagery reminds us of the remarkable diversity and simultaneous oneness of Black 2SLGBTQ+ communities. It is a stunning and inspiring visual reminder of The 519’s ongoing work to address racism and anti-Blackness, celebrate community resiliency, and foster the conditions for equity and justice in our communities.
The logo is showcased on the south side of The 519 building to serve as a reminder to actively confront anti-Black racism every day — in our families, communities, workplaces, and more importantly, within.
Trans Engagement Strategy (TES)
In late 2017, as part of our continual effort and commitment to community, The 519 undertook initial steps to establish a taskforce to examine our program and service provision in relation to our work with trans communities with a particular focus on trans women of colour.
- Identify, prioritize and meet the current and emergent needs of trans communities
- Inform and engage leading practice in program and service delivery models which best meet the needs of trans communities
- Ensure that the use of our space supports, celebrates, and connects trans communities
- Foster authentic leadership of trans communities
Since created, TES:
- reviewed and continues to update The 519 human resource processes
- initiated a global environmental scan and internal programs review process
- conducts external policy reviews and advocates for trans-inclusive policies with various public institutions
- launched the Kyle Scanlon Memorial Fund. The fund was created to memorialize Kyle Scanlon, a beloved member of our staff team and local trans communities. The Kyle Scanlon Memorial Fund is given out annually and is proud to provide funding to community programs and initiatives that focus on bettering the lives of two-spirit, trans, and non-binary communities
- supported the creation and launch of Trans People of Colour Project (TPOC) Cookbook
- supported the organization of Trans Day of Remembrance hosted at The 519
- supported the weekly program Healing Drumming circle with the Circle of Cedar Singers, a 2 Spirit drumming circle.
created the Pay It NO Mind Fund as a response to the deepening inequities faced by 2 Spirit, trans, and non-binary communities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the winter of 2020/2021 in Toronto. The fund was accessible to 2 Spirit, trans, and non-binary communities in need of financial support. In addition to providing financial assistance, the fund provided optional priority access to health and social services through the application process. Applications from 2 Spirit, Indigenous, and Black community members were prioritized. The fund is named after one of our icons, Marsha P. Johnson, and recognizes that our work stands on the shoulders of giants. A total of $50,000 was distributed efficiently through a referral network of key partners providing frontline supports to eligible community members in ways designed to afford fund recipients the highest degree of dignity in access. We worked with community partners including Maggie’s Toronto, Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations, and The Neighbourhood Group to aid in getting widespread referrals to the fund
- continues to foster staff support and development opportunities for 2 Spirit, trans and non-binary
- launched internal subcommittees that welcome the participation of all staff, and foster collaborative work:
- TES-Research: provides a cyclical environmental scan of external organizations that are led by or serve trans communities.
- Trans Internal Development & Elevation (TIDE): creating and supporting mentorship and leadership development opportunities; enhancing wellness programs; and reviewing our policy and practice to identify systemic issues that impact trans employees
- TES-Comms: supports public and internal communications with content that highlights 2 Spirit, trans, and non-binary communities