On June 19, 1865, slaves in Galveston, Texas were informed that the Civil War had ended and they were now free. Freedom Day, also known as Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who have been enslaved in the United States. As Canadians, it is important to honour Juneteenth, because enslavement in Canada existed well before the Europeans arrived and it lasted for about 200 years. We simply cannot ignore the historical trauma that our social systems are built on.
The global protests that took place last year due to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, sparked renewed interest in the holiday. It is important to showcase and support Black creatives during holidays like these and beyond, in order to amplify their voices.
STYLE Canada spoke with a few Black creatives about their upbringings and how it influences their creative processes. Get to know the talented individuals and their work below.
1. Kenza Cardort
Kenza Cardort, Art Director – Libreville, Gabon
“My childhood has been the best years of my life. I learned that I was part of the toughest princesses clan, ever since then, I have been doing my best to honor that title. My work is my legacy!”
2. Lidia Tesdamicael
Lidia Tesdamicael, Co-Founder of Canada Fashion Network – Ottawa, Canada
“Being supported by both my family and close friends truly gives me the confidence to embrace my creativity, which allows me to support others. This has shaped me into what I am today.”
3. Anita Hosanna
Anita Hosanna, Fashion Stylist and Creative Consultant – Vancouver, Canada
“We were refugees when we immigrated to Canada and didn’t have much, but I had a lovely childhood filled with the simple things. I could spend hours with a pen and paper just drawing, cutting up magazines to make collages, or playing dress-up in mom’s closet. These were my favorite things to do, and that’s something I’ve always kept with me – I love to just create.”
4. Malcolm Walker-Hendricks
Malcolm Walker-Hendricks, I.T Sales and Digital Creator – Ottawa, Canada
“When it comes to nurturing your own creativity, your attitude determines your latitude. Don’t hesitate to take a chance, go left instead of right sometimes, and embrace the boredom when it comes… It’s just all part of the creative process.”
5. Abigail Ogun
Abigail Ogun, Content Creator and Social Media Strategist – Calgary, Alberta
“I grew up in three continents: Africa, Europe, and North America. Moving around a lot, constantly meeting new people and being immersed in a lot of cultures has taught me to never to be afraid of change and trying new things. I’ve also learned how to communicate and appeal to people from different walks of life. Being a citizen of the world has me constantly seeking the next adventure and I love living in such an exciting way.”
6. Tegan Smith
Tegan Smith, Co-Founder of Studio 2020/Godzspeed Communications and Author of Small Talk: A Periodical in Prose (2019) – Ottawa, Canada
“From a very young age my parents, in particular my father, would always encourage us to dream beyond our circumstances and to do what you love. We were taught to be cautious, but not so much that it would stifle any creative fire inside. This fire is called ‘passion’, the footing for what I know to be my purpose – which I know to be my purpose- which to me is both the challenge and reward of knowing who you are.”
7. Adja, Ramata and Fatima Bah
Adja, Ramata and Fatima Bah., Owners of Camara Beauty. – Guinea, Conakry
“Our upbringing was very influential to our creativity within our brand. Not only were we raised together, but we also experienced the same biases that this society can express- especially onto Black women. We were taught that in this superficial society, your image has the ability to propel you into your future careers and occupations, in spite of the inequalities that we face on a day-to-day basis. Our brand caters to Black women and we seek to make Black women look and feel as great as possible in order to take this world on.”