Words by: Izabela Shubair
The city’s largest Black Futures Month festival marks its 28th year. From dance and music to films and literary reflections, join the celebrations with these upcoming events in Toronto.
Since 1995, Harbourfront Centre’s KUUMBA has been sparking conversations, celebrating ideas, and supporting the city’s Black community with forward-looking programming. For its 2023 iteration, the well-loved Toronto festival is offering both ticketed and free events. All the festivities amplify Black Canadians’ heritage, culture, art and traditions — with a focus on the next generation.
Look to the future with these events coming up at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre.
Watch an Award-Winning Documentary
What: Screening of Black Ice
When: Feb. 3 at 7:30 pm
We’ve all heard of the NHL but did you know that from 1895 to 1930, Canada had an all-Black league? It’s in the Coloured Hockey League (CHL) that some of today’s most well-known moves, like the slapshot, were created. When the CHL was dissolved and Black players joined the NHL, their triumph of seeming inclusion came with racism, both on and off the ice. Directed by Oscar nominee Hubert Davis — and executive produced by LeBron James, Drake, and Maverick Carter — Black Ice examines Black players’ role in Canadian hockey.
At the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, this doc won the prestigious People’s Choice Documentary Award. KUUMBA gives you an opportunity to experience Black Ice for the first time, or again.
Celebrate Divas and Drag
What: DIVA, a drag impersonation show
When: Feb. 4 at 7:30 pm
When it comes to Toronto events this weekend that feature glitz, glam, and spectacle, Hollywood Jade Presents: DIVA does it all. Celebrating impersonation (the quintessential foundation of classic drag), DIVA is a fully curated and choreographed show.
Get ready for the lyrics, likeness, mannerisms, costumes, hair, and makeup of Lizzo, Whitney Houston, Prince, and Tina Turner. Hosted by choreographer and guest judge on Canada’s Drag Race, Hollywood Jade Anderson, this event brings to the stage drag artists who embody the legends they’re impersonating. Transformed into the divas, performers Jada Shada Hudson, Vitality Black, Manny Dingo, and Hand Awnya will have you belting out your favourite anthems from the icons.
Explore What Lies Ahead
What: Storytelling through Letters to My Future Self
When: Feb. 5 at 3 pm
If you could talk to yourself in the years to come, what would you say? Presented with JAYU, an organization that strives to tell human rights stories through the arts, Letters to My Future Self will feature 10 equity-deserving artists sharing their reflections.
Each artist will explore their questions, hopes, dreams, and aspirations, and examine where they are going. Their thoughts may be filled with excitement or uncertainty about what’s next. No matter what they share, the letters will hold space for their diverse stories, dreams, and trajectories. This free Toronto event features intergenerational poets, visual artists, and other creatives all looking ahead.
Get Romantically Inspired
What: The Love. Affair. concert
When: Feb. 10 at 7:30 pm
Get lost in heartfelt music while celebrating Black History Month and Valentine’s Day in one place. The Love. Affair. concert marks the Harbourfront debut of JUNO winner Sean Jones.
The crooner’s contemporary take on classic soul and R&B sounds is a tribute to the singers that inspired him. Backed by a 10-piece band, he’ll perform both classic and original songs. Billboard charting artist Avery Raquel; JUNO-nominated recording artist Gary Beals; and legendary blues, jazz, and gospel singer Jackie Robinson also hit the stage. The concert then takes all that love in the air and channels it into the Afterparty Affair, where Toronto DJ crew BELLOSOUND will curate the vibes.
Before you make your way to the KUUMBA festival in Toronto, register for the free events and purchase tickets by visiting harbourfrontcentre.com or call the Box Office at 416-973-4000.