Bye 2020: A message from LSAs’ ED

2020 was one of change, challenge, caring and celebration.

While the pandemic meant our organization just like the entire arts industry had to shift, postpone and cancel our programming we were still able to accomplish a lot this year. From running an online Summer Camp led by artists Que Rock and Laura Grier to completing a mural project at the Eighth Street Skatepark which added 6 new murals to the park, as well as bringing our Elements of Theatre program online in partnership with Community Living Toronto.

The year was not without its challenges and learnings. We were called to action our Anti-Black Racism Statement made in June 2020. Over the fall and winter, we have been working internally to begin actioning the commitments made in this statement. These actions included reviewing our HR recruitment policies and procedures as well as board governance, a process supported by Tina Garnett of Providence International EDI Consulting. Parul Pandya of Community Impact Non-Profit Consulting led the board and staff in a two-part anti-oppression workshop. Our work on anti-Black racism and anti-oppression is ongoing and we look forward to incorporating and implementing these lessons in our work and community moving forward.

We are excited to welcome our two newest staff members Sharon Zarita, our Operations Manager, and Nadijah Robinson, our Program Manager. Zarita is a Kenyan who brings a wealth of knowledge about the community arts sector having previously worked in East Africa’s creative industry and here at Jamii Esplanade. She is also a graduate of the Arts Admin program from Humber College. Nadijah brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in non-profit administration and arts program development. She has held such roles as Executive Director for Art City in St. James Town and the Power Kids Family Programs Coordinator for The Power Plant.

Sharon Zarita, Operations Manager
Sharon Zarita, Operations Manager
Nadijah Robinson, Program Manager
Nadijah Robinson, Program Manager

Throughout 2020 we witnessed the incredible kindness and generosity of so many individuals, businesses and organizations. One of the many examples of this community’s incredible creativity and generosity is the South Etobicoke Community Group on Facebook, led by Graham Rowlands. Through an online auction run over November and December this group raised a total of $22,355 for 6 local charities (LAMP Community Health CentreWomen’s HabitatHaven on the QueenswayJean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment 
and the Etobicoke Humane Society). Read more about this amazing group here.

We are grateful for all your outpouring financial support. It has meant we can continue to deliver online programming and made us feel the closeness of community spirit.

Over the holidays, we will be taking some time off to rest and recharge so that we can start 2021 fresh and ready to continue serving Etobicoke through our programs, events and projects. We will be back on January 4th, 2021 and looking forward to what the New Year brings.

We wish you a safe and joyful holiday.

Yours in community,

Ashley Watson
Executive Director