TTC celebrates Black History Month

Beginning today, in celebration of Black History Month, the TTC will be spotlighting the work of eight local Black artists across the system under the theme “Building on legacies: Celebrating Black excellence in Toronto. The art features key Black figures, who have played an important role in civil rights, law, culture, government, health, sport, education, and transit.


Among those featured are Irma James and Walter Alexander Foster, both former TTC employees. In 1983, Irma James became the first Black woman to be a TTC streetcar operator and continued in her role for 24 years. In 1916, Walter Alexander Foster joined the Toronto Railway Company, which later became the TTC, as one of the first Black transit conductors.


“Black History Month is about celebrating the invaluable contributions Black Canadians have made to our city,” said Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow. “I commend the TTC and Astrosankofa Arts Initiatives for showcasing the talent and creativity of local Black artists, while also acknowledging the historical significance of Black leaders in Toronto. Let us all take this opportunity to learn, appreciate, and celebrate the diversity that enriches our city.”


“This Black History Month initiative serves to highlight the significant role that Black Torontonians have played in shaping our city, including two former TTC employees whose dedication and trailblazing efforts paved the way for future generations of Black and racialized people to establish meaningful careers in transit,” said TTC Chair Jamaal Myers. “On behalf of the TTC Board, I extend my thanks to Astrosankofa Arts Initiatives and the eight contributing Black artists whose unique perspectives and creative talents bring an added layer of depth to this year’s celebration.”


“The TTC is proud to celebrate and honour the incredible contributions Black Torontonians have made to our community,” said TTC CEO Rick Leary. “Our transit system plays a vital role in connecting communities, and through this initiative, we are celebrating the diversity and excellence that exists in Toronto. We encourage everyone to experience these inspiring art installations and learn more about the significant contributions Black Canadians have made to our city.”


The artists were selected in partnership with Astrosankofa Arts Initiatives, and their work will be prominently displayed on wrapped buses and streetcars, as murals in stations, and at bus and streetcar shelters, and across TTC social media channels. Installation of the murals is underway and they will remain on display throughout Black History Month.


Internally, the TTC will be observing Black History Month by spotlighting the contributions of Black employees, as well as through bus tours and digital content.

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