The Black Experience in the Greater Toronto Area

Project Update

The research phase of the project is now nearing completion. Preparation of a final report is underway, with guidance from the BEP Research Advisory Group and representatives from the Black community.

A new website dedicated to the project is now in the works and the study results will be released at a public event in mid-July 2017.


What is the Black Experience Project?

A groundbreaking research study of the "lived experience" of individuals across the Greater Toronto Area who self-identify as Black or of African heritage.

The study focuses on the contributions, successes, experiences and challenges of the people from this diverse set of communities. The research will provide valuable direction in identifying policies and other initiatives that will contribute to the health and vibrancy of the Black community, and by doing so, the health and vibrancy of the entire GTA community.  

The study consisted of in-depth one-on-one confidential interviews with a representative sample of more than 1,500 individuals across the GTA.

Who is behind the Black Experience Project?

The Environics Institute is conducting the research in partnership with Ryerson's Diversity Institute, the United Way of Greater Toronto, and the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

The project is also being supported by a number of other leading organizations as Collaborating Partners, including the African Canadian Development Council, the Black Artists Network Dialogue, the Jamaica Canadian Association, the Region of Peel, Redemption and Reintegration Services, the City of Toronto, Tropicana Community Services and Black Artists Network Dialogue (BAND).

The research is guided by a Research Advisory Group, composed of academic researchers with an established track record of relevant research.

Learn more about the Black Experience Project


Hear from our Community Interviewers

Introduction to the Black Experience Project


The project is founded on evidence demonstrating that survey research can serve as a powerful vehicle to give voice to individuals and groups who are not normally heard from. Such research offers a unique opportunity to articulate positive narratives and hopeful scenarios for the future that might not otherwise be properly heard. These stories will encourage personal initiative, stronger policies, and investment of public, private, and philanthropic resources.

Project results are expected to provide a focal point for the Black community to better harness its assets and expand its successes broadly throughout the entire community. It will help the community build on strategies to move forward, and it will also help the broader community (e.g., community leaders, decision-makers, public) understand and appreciate the vibrancy of the Black community within their vicinity.

The project includes three phases:

• Phase 1: Community engagement: to proactively engage the Black community to ensure the research focuses on issues of greatest relevance, and contributes to capacity building. This phase has been completed and final report is now available for download here.

• Phase 2: Research design and execution to conduct an in-depth survey with a representative sample of individuals within the GTA Black community; and

• Phase 3: Post-study dissemination and public engagement: to broadly publicize the research findings and actively engage policy-makers and the Black community around implications and next steps.

The Phase 2 survey has now been completed. Analysis of the results is now underway, with a major public release now scheduled for Spring 2017. Stay tuned for updates.

Media Coverage of the Black Experience Project

CBC Radio One Metro Morning - February 17-2015

Global TV News - January 29-2015



BEP Team

Marva Wisdom - Director of Community Engagement and Outreach

Marva is a highly sought facilitator, moderator & speaker.  With diversity & inclusivity as an imperative she provides clients with courage to transform their leadership vision. Marva is co-founding president &managing director of Canadian Black History Projects and an avid community volunteer with decades of committee and Board leadership experience. Her recognitions include Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; YWCA’s Woman of Distinction; JCA’s Community Volunteer Leadership Awards. Marva has an M.A. (Leadership) from U of G.  She has been active with the BEP Team since its 2010 inception, serving as Project Director for Phase 1.

Laura Mae Lindo – BEP Senior Consultant

Laura Mae Lindo is serving as a Senior Consultant on the analysis and reporting of the project. She is currently the Director of Equity and Diversity at Wilfred Laurier University, in addition to being a creative consultant and professional speaker. Previous to this she served as a Senior Research Associate at Ryerson University, where she played a key role in Phase One of the Black Experience Project. Laura Mae holds both a Ph.D. and a Master’s degree in Education from York University, as well as a Certificate in Human Rights from York University – Osgoode Hall Law School.


Fowzia Duale Virtue - BEP Coordinator

Fowzia comes to Black Experience Project with a resilient passion in curating space with young people to explore their own potential for healing, narrative and growth. She has led a range of research, communications/social media and administrative projects at Midaynta Community Services. She has been instrumental in coordinating events in celebration of the inaugural Somali Heritage Month at the Toronto District School Board as well as the Rising Stars Student Achievement Night.Fowzia has spent the last three and half years working in youth outreach and development, supporting young people in underserved racialized communities in the Greater Toronto Area. Her work directly intersects with her own experience as a Somali-Canadian as a pathway to leveraging a trusting relationship with young people and their families.Fowzia has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and is a certified practitioner in Applied Suicide Intervention.


Lead Partners



Our Lead Sponsors:



 Our Regional Partners


Our media partners: 

CBC Toronto

 To learn more about the Black Experience Project, contact Keith Neuman