Introduction

Edmonton, Alberta's Afro-Caribbean Dance Ensemble (courtesy Afro-Caribbean Dance Ensemble)
Image: Edmonton, Alberta's Afro-Caribbean Dance Ensemble is dedicated to building an appreciation of African and Caribbean dance and culture among Canadians (courtesy Afro-Caribbean Dance Ensemble).

Through the arts, African-Canadians are able to give expression to the many issues, events, and challenges that have impacted the African-Canadian community over time. Through art, writing, music, dance, theatre, and film, African-Canadians explore the nature and scope of the Black identity, question the stereotypes, challenge the ordinary, all in an effort to build upon and re-create a vibrant culture from which to ground themselves as African-Canadians or from which to consider other identities.

African-Canadians have excelled in the arts, and teach their skills and share their passion with others. It is often through the arts that those outside the diverse Black community come to know more about the "Black experience"; our musicians, our writers, our artists share our stories and our essence in ways that allow all to be able to understand a portion.

A challenge for artists and particularly African-Canadian artists is in how their works are made known and made available for broad public consumption. In the larger cities with significant Black populations, one is more likely to find African-Canadian theatre, book awards or launches, art shows, or film festivals. Is there adequate funding for the cultural institutions that provide assistance to artists, or developing artists?

While the arts provide the opportunity for artists to share their perspectives freely and openly, and allow for others to experience them, African-Canadian artists are themselves free to delve into areas that may not have the Black community as the subject of their work. African-Canadian artists bring their being to their work, and it may impact their work, but "being Black" may not be the primary focus of their activity.

Rosemary Sadlier