The Black Experience in the Greater Toronto Area

The Black Experience Project in the GTA has now been released and has its own dedicated website. For more information:


What is the Black Experience Project?

A groundbreaking research study of the "lived experience" of individuals across the Greater Toronto Area who self-identify as Black or of African heritage.

The study focuses on the contributions, successes, experiences and challenges of the people from this diverse set of communities. The research will provide valuable direction in identifying policies and other initiatives that will contribute to the health and vibrancy of the Black community, and by doing so, the health and vibrancy of the entire GTA community.  

The study consisted of in-depth one-on-one confidential interviews with a representative sample of more than 1,500 individuals across the GTA.


Who is behind the Black Experience Project?

The Environics Institute is conducting the research in partnership with Ryerson's Diversity Institute, the United Way of Greater Toronto, and the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

The project is also being supported by a number of other leading organizations as Collaborating Partners, including the African Canadian Development Council, the Black Artists Network Dialogue, the Jamaica Canadian Association, the Region of Peel, Redemption and Reintegration Services, the City of Toronto, Tropicana Community Services and Black Artists Network Dialogue (BAND).

The research is guided by a Research Advisory Group, composed of academic researchers with an established track record of relevant research.

Learn more about the Black Experience Project


Hear from our Community Interviewers

Introduction to the Black Experience Project


The project is founded on evidence demonstrating that survey research can serve as a powerful vehicle to give voice to individuals and groups who are not normally heard from. Such research offers a unique opportunity to articulate positive narratives and hopeful scenarios for the future that might not otherwise be properly heard. These stories will encourage personal initiative, stronger policies, and investment of public, private, and philanthropic resources.

Project results are expected to provide a focal point for the Black community to better harness its assets and expand its successes broadly throughout the entire community. It will help the community build on strategies to move forward, and it will also help the broader community (e.g., community leaders, decision-makers, public) understand and appreciate the vibrancy of the Black community within their vicinity.

The project includes three phases:

• Phase 1: Community engagement: to proactively engage the Black community to ensure the research focuses on issues of greatest relevance, and contributes to capacity building. This phase has been completed and final report is now available for download here.

• Phase 2: Research design and execution to conduct an in-depth survey with a representative sample of individuals within the GTA Black community; and

• Phase 3: Post-study dissemination and public engagement: to broadly publicize the research findings and actively engage policy-makers and the Black community around implications and next steps.


Previous media Coverage of the Black Experience Project

CBC Radio One Metro Morning - February 17-2015

Global TV News - January 29-2015



BEP Team

Marva Wisdom - Director of Community Engagement and Outreach

Marva is a highly sought facilitator, moderator & speaker.  With diversity & inclusivity as an imperative she provides clients with courage to transform their leadership vision. Marva is co-founding president &managing director of Canadian Black History Projects and an avid community volunteer with decades of committee and Board leadership experience. Her recognitions include Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; YWCA’s Woman of Distinction; JCA’s Community Volunteer Leadership Awards. Marva has an M.A. (Leadership) from U of G.  She has been active with the BEP Team since its 2010 inception, serving as Project Director for Phase 1.


Fowzia Duale Virtue - BEP Coordinator

Fowzia comes to Black Experience Project with a resilient passion in curating space with young people to explore their own potential for healing, narrative and growth. She has led a range of research, communications/social media and administrative projects at Midaynta Community Services. She has been instrumental in coordinating events in celebration of the inaugural Somali Heritage Month at the Toronto District School Board as well as the Rising Stars Student Achievement Night.Fowzia has spent the last three and half years working in youth outreach and development, supporting young people in underserved racialized communities in the Greater Toronto Area. Her work directly intersects with her own experience as a Somali-Canadian as a pathway to leveraging a trusting relationship with young people and their families.Fowzia has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and is a certified practitioner in Applied Suicide Intervention.

Joseph Smith - BEP Coordinator

Joseph is a trained elementary and secondary school teacher, with a Master’s in Education, presently pursuing a PhD in the Humanities at York University. While juggling his post-secondary TA'ship with his Doctoral studies and his teaching responsibilities within and outside of his community of Jane and Finch, he also runs a non-profit organization called Generation Chosen, which focusses on Mental Health, Emotional Intelligence, Education and Jobs within the Jane and Finch community. Joseph’s PhD research – rooted in philosophy and the philosophy of psychology and religion – focusses on the ontology of Mind, and the dialectical relationship between the Mind and Narratology.

Samantha Kemp-Jackson - Communications Lead

Samantha Kemp-Jackson is a seasoned communications professional who brings more than 25 years experience to her clients at Triple M Communications. A senior-level public relations and communications professional, Samantha delivers proven results in the areas of strategic counsel, media strategy, media relations management and execution, corporate communications, writing , content creation and digital communications. A well-known digital content creator, writer and frequent media spokesperson in her own right, Samantha understands first-hand what works to make a professional company or brand stand out above the clutter. 


Lead Partners



 Our Lead Sponsors:



 Our Regional Partners


Our media partners: 

CBC Toronto

 To learn more about the Black Experience Project, contact Keith Neuman