The Black Experience in the Greater Toronto Area

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. The surveys have now been completed and the analysis of results is underway.  The study will be officially released in April 2016. Stay tuned for further details.

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).

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.


The Phase 2 survey has now been completed. Analysis of the results is now underway, with a major public release now scheduled for September 2016. Stay tuned for updates.

Check out the BEP Blog HERE

Media Coverage of the Black Experience Project

CBC Radio One Metro Morning - February 17-2015

Global TV News - January 29-2015



BEP Outreach Team

Suelyn Knight - BEP Project Manager Phase 2

Suelyn Knight joins as the Project Manager Phase 2 Research. Suelyn’s primary responsibility will be to organize and coordinate the survey administration, including recruitment and supervision of the community youth we will be hiring to conduct the in-person interviews. Suelyn comes with extensive experience in project management and community development experience, most recently as a Community Outreach Coordinator at United Way Peel Region. She can be reached at


Dena Henry - BEP Project Coordinator

Dena Henry is a graduate of York University where she completed a BA Specialized Honours in Political Science, with a strong focus on gender, race and sexuality. As a passionate service driven Community Worker she is committed to social justice and anti-oppression issues. Dena believes our life work should not merely be about promoting self but rather the serving of others. For the past 10 years she has been assisting youths, vulnerable women and the homeless population in the Greater Toronto Area and Jamaica W.I. She can be reached at 


Amanda Parris - Interviewer Manager

Amanda Parris was born in London, England, descending from Grenadian and Venezuelan ancestry and raised on the south side of Jane Street in Toronto, Amanda Parris is an artist, educator and scholar. Alongside her best friend Natasha Daniel, Amanda is the co-founder of the multi-award winning alternative education organization Lost Lyrics. Her facilitation skills have led to hundreds of invitations to moderate panels and conduct workshops at schools, community centres, corporations and conferences around the world. Amanda's curriculum work was recently published in the book Rhymes to Re-Education, the first ever Hip Hop Education resource guide created by the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Amanda is in the midst of completing her M.A. Degree in the Sociology of Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.  She recently published her first academic article "Document it Before We Forget: A Conversation with African-Canadian Women ARtists on the Canadian Black Arts Movement" in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Journal "Our Schools/Our Selves." 


Rose-Ann Marie Bailey – Regional Team Lead - Toronto

Rose-Ann Marie Bailey is a graduate of York University where she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) and Education degrees. She is currently pursuing a Master of Education at York University, with a focus on community-based arts research. 

Ms. Bailey’s current research explores the inextricably links between racism, urban education and the social determinants of health, and how this impacts a culturally relevant and responsive health education mandate for Black, African, Caribbean and Canadian youth. Ms. Bailey brings over fifteen years of professional and voluntary experience working collaboratively with a variety of community-based AIDS Service Organizations and community health centres in Ontario. 

Her frontline work experience as a health promoter and youth program coordinator with marginalized communities has equipped her with a deep understanding and analysis of socio- cultural factors that inform the health practices of racialized and marginalized populations.She can be reached at


Danavan Samuels – Regional Team Lead – York Region

With more than two decades of social service and Community Development experience. Danavan has contributed to, and participated, in numerous research initiatives. Danavan has worked tirelessly to improve access and opportunities for African Canadian and racialized groups across the GTA. 

As a policy Analyst Danavan works to improve policies, programs and strategies that impact marginalized groups.  Danavan is an experienced facilitator and organizer and has been successful in mobilizing members of the black community to advocate for equity and social change.

Danavan believes in the values and importance of evidence informed advocacy and sees the Black Experience Project as a vital part of ensuring the Black community has an informed voice at the decision making table. He can be reached at


Nadine Rubie – Regional Team Lead – Peel/Halton

Nadine is a dynamic, insightful social work professional with over 10 years’ experience in youth development, health promotion and non-profit leadership. She has a strong educational foundation with Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Toronto. Nadine has worked in marginalized communities across the Greater Toronto Area and in Kingston Jamaica. Most recently, Nadine has lived, worked and played in the Peel Region as a Health Promoter for the Bramalea Community Health Centre.

She has worked with a number of populations including youth, families, newcomers and the homeless and those living with mental illness. Nadine has a passion for anti-oppression and social justice. Nadine is very excited and enthusiastic to work on the Black Experience Project and eager to put this important research into action. She can be reached at or


Lead Partners



Our Lead Sponsors:



 Our Regional Partners


Our media partners: 

CBC Toronto

 To learn more about the Black Experience Project, contact Suelyn Knignt