About the Artist
My name is Donna Paris, and I am a multigenerational Black Canadian. I have always been interested in where and who I came from. In 2014, I wrote a piece for CBC radio called "I Am Black History", which was later published by Understory Magazine (2017).
My mom says that growing up in the town of Windsor, Nova Scotia made her feel
disconnected from other Black people. She was told that her family was "better" than other Black folks who lived in the country or in Africville. She says it has left her feeling bad about herself, with an internalized belief that she is not truly Black.
I too grew up in Nova Scotia, often feeling a stranger in my own land - "But where are you from?" and sometimes accused of not being "Black enough". I knew that my and my mother’s stories were not unique and so I began my journey of uncovering the untold stories steeped in our history – Black Canadian History. What I learned is that for each story of racism and disconnection, there are as many stories of perseverance and triumph.
What's your story?
Who Are We?
InTheBlack: Canada, was started by three Black Canadian women Nina Aning, Sonia Godding-Togobo, and Donna Paris who, through their work in media and education, have focused on the experience of being Black Canadian. Together they created two projects - The Web Chronicles (2015), and The Windsor Project (2017), which is now part of the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Windsor. Though the collective is not currently active, they all continue the work of telling the stories of Black people. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3bLT4hwBFXiWQQQFkhjzGA
The I Am Black History project is Donna's latest project in collaboration with her life partner and photographer David Ofori Zapparoli. What started out as a possible art installation, due to Covid-19, has been reinvented here.
The first stories are from Donna and David travelling to the east coast of Canada. They met many Black Canadians and learned about Black history that altered their perceptions of the presence of Black people in the Atlantic provinces. Some of the other stories are from people who live in Ontario. The plan was to travel through Quebec then west and north this summer (2020), to collect more stories. Covid-19 had other plans but that has not stopped them. Donna is still collecting stories and interviewing remotely. If you want to share your stories, go to the Contact Us page.
Home page: Issac Paris and Family, Windsor, NS; Regina Elizabeth (Ashe) Jackson, Middletown, NS; The Jackson Family, Halifax, NS; Joey and Danny Paris, Mulgrave, NS
About page: Donna Paris, Toronto, ON
Focus page: The Jackson Girls - Jane, Mable, Mindy (Vivian), Evelyn, Middleton, NS
Our Stories pages: All photos taken by David Ofori Zapparoli
*Special shout out to one of my biggest fans and supporters Felice Markowicz. Thank you for your generous donation and for always believing in me.