New study looks into what it means to be black in Toronto

Moustaf Yusuf

Community trailblazer, Moustaf Yusuf, photographed at a meeting (Photo Joan M. Campbell)

Ryerson’s Diversity Institute is taking part in a groundbreaking study on the unique challenges facing members of the black community in Toronto.

The Black Experience Project will consult with members of the black community to better understand specific issues and to create policies that will contribute to the future success of the community.

The Environics Institute is leading the study in partnership with Ryerson, the United Way of Greater Toronto, the YMCA of Greater Toronto, and more than 25 collaborating organizations.

Organizers of the initiative say this will be different than previous studies because of the amount of involvement from the black community itself.

“It’s a different type of research,” says Keith Neuman, the project director for The Environics Institute. “We’re going to capture individual stories…This will tell a much fuller picture than anybody has right now.”

The project is already well into its first phase, which saw researchers hold 17 group discussions with community leaders throughout the GTA The next phase will survey 1,000 to 3,000 members of the black community. Once those results are in, organizers will release the information and hold public events to promote changes in policy.

The Black Experience Project will take a similar approach to The Environics Institute’s 2011 study on Aboriginal communities in 11 of Canada’s major urban centers.

Some of the main themes so far coming out of The Black Experience Project include media portrayal of the black community, physical and mental health, and community safety.

“Our role is to do the right research, get it done properly, communicate it effectively and get people to notice it,” says Neuman. “After that, it’s really up to other organizations to do something with it.”

The project officially launches March 24 at the Central YMCA on 20 Grosvenor St. in Toronto.

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