I was born in Ghana in a small town called Pepease (which means ‘under a tree’. When I was 9, we moved to the capital city of Accra. Three years later, I followed my mother to Toronto, and settled in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood (in northwestern Toronto). The image of my community portrayed in the media and what I live are two different things. It is very vibrant and well-connected; people look out for each other. Many programs and activities have been created for families, mainly led by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) women, ranging from young to older ladies. They take on issues and advocate for the community. I don’t think I could get that sense of community anywhere else.
As the director of the Black Creek Community Farm, I engage residents, allies and other stake holders in struggles for social and economic justice, including food security and food justice in Jane-Finch. We’re growing organic food to sell to low-income residents in a community deemed as the poorest in Toronto. They can hardly afford fresh vegetables, let alone organic. So we have had to rethink who’s managing the farm, who’s selling, to whom and for how much?
We have formed a Black Creek Community Farm Resident Council and the Black Creek Food Justice Network. I helped found many organizations, including Jane Finch On The Move, Jane Finch Action Against Poverty, Jane Finch Political Conversation Café, and Mothers-In-Motion. I am also a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council, vice-chair of SeedChange – USC Canada and a part-time instructor with George Brown College.
The people growing the food are facing the most food insecurity. The food movement is based on the backs of black and brown people. Globally Indigenous people are putting their lives on the land to protect the land, to grow good healthy food for all the beings. So dismantling racism is a big piece of food sovereignty, as well as patriarchy; racialized women are dominant in farming, but they don’t own land.
As a black person living in an urban centre, the project gives me the chance to connect with other grass-roots folks doing food sovereignty work. We have to think globally but organize locally. We’re dealing with the same forces as Legacies collaborators in Mexico; for example, many mining companies in Ghana and in the Global south are located here in Canada. In our food, environmental and social justice work, we can coordinate our impact together, rather than working in silos or being protectionist.