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Preserving Toronto’s black history: the Blackhurst Cultural Centre expands 

Toronto has a rich Black cultural history, and at BMO, we want to celebrate that – while also working to remove systemic barriers in our communities. In alignment with our Purpose to Boldly Grow the Good for an inclusive society, BMO has donated $750,000 to the Blackhurst Cultural Centre (Blackhurst). The donation was announced in conjunction with the Centre’s annual Emancipation Day walk in Toronto on August 1. 

Blackhurst is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities to experience the rich cultures and histories of Canadians of African and Caribbean ancestry. Their mission is to celebrate and preserve Mirvish Village’s Black history, and to expand the Centre’s community and cultural outreach activities. They’ve also operated the Black-owned bookstore, A Different Booklist, for more than 25 years. 

In 2025, Blackhurst will move into one of 24 conserved heritage buildings in the revitalized Mirvish Village, expanding to four floors to house the bookstore, Cultural Centre programming, and a drumming studio. They’ve also dedicated space to showcase revolving community-based vendors, artisans and leading voices – all curated to engage with the community for learning, sharing and celebrating the proud stories of African and Caribbean Canadians.   

As the lead partner of Blackhurst’s capital campaign, BMO will fund the construction and renovation of the new Cultural Centre, and provide an operating and endowment fund to help the Centre deliver outreach programs, such as youth arts programs and a business e-course in partnership with the Schulich School of Business.  

“This new Centre will help support financial progress, racial equity, and inclusion for Black customers, colleagues, and communities. As part of BMO’s Zero Barriers to Inclusion strategy, BMO is committed to breaking down systemic barriers and providing access to opportunities for all – we are excited for the benefits this Centre, and its programs, will bring for people in the community.” 

– Stanley Julien
Head, Special Accounts Management Unit, BMO

“The Blackhurst Cultural Centre is proud to have BMO as a partner in this new anthropological model of development. Blackhurst welcomes the community, government and the corporate sector to lay the foundation for a permanent and sustainable cultural infrastructure in the historic Bloor and Bathurst neighbourhood. The ancestors who came through the Underground Railroad and settled in this neighbourhood must be cheering this new Canadian chapter.”

– Itah Sadu
Managing Director of Blackhurst Cultural Centre

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