top of page


CELAFI'25 is a digital archival repository dedicated to: collecting, preserving, and making available data that evidences the artistic contributions of Black Canadians to the Canadian mosaic and the historical and culturally significant impact of CELAFI.


In 1992, CAN:BAIA coordinated its first major undertaking, a six-day international, multi-disciplinary conference and festival, CELAFI '92,  hosted by Toronto's Harbourfront Centre for the Arts with the theme 'Celebrating African Identity: Strategies of Empowerment, Affirmation and Discovery'. The success of CELAFI '92, led five years later to CELAFI '97, a multi-venue, international event with the theme 'Celebrating African Identity: Entering the Millennium', which once more provided an extraordinary opportunity for African Canadian artists and their work to receive even greater national and international exposure.


Canadian Artists Network: Black Artists in Action (CAN:BAIA) was the Toronto based national, multi-disciplinary organization that envisioned and mounted CELAFI with the objective of manifesting the burning creativity of Black Canadian artists for the benefit of all. in 1990, CAN:BAIA was incorporated as a national non-profit organization with a board of directors and executive committee drawn from representatives across the country. Membership included professional artists, cultural workers, curators, art educators and art enthusiasts.  The membership driven organization launched a number of impactful initiatives, CELAFI'92 and CELAFI'97 stands out as their most far-reaching and career igniting platforms for Black Canadian Artists. In 1999 the organization ceased operation

Click HERE  formore on CAN:BAIA AND CELAFI Historical Sketch


This archive was made possible by the hard work of our contributes - thank you.


The CELAFI'25 Archive was born out of my search in 2015 for evidence of the mammoth and purposeful undertaking by Canadian Artist Network: Black Artist In Action (CAN: BAIA) to produce the CELAFI 1992 and CELAFI 1997 Conference, Festival whose singular objective was to unite and showcase the wealth of Canada's National Black community of artists practitioners and their creations. Needless to say I found little to nothing of this work online, nor reference to the individuals, in particular CAN: BAIA's President - Ayanna Black whose incredible dogged determination made these landmarks events in Canada's history a reality and shone much needed light where there was non.

As a practicing black-artist (maskmaker/writer), and management accountant driven to mentoring my artists/clients into 'making their art their business', I understood the argument for a CELAFI platform that uses mentorship as a readiness tool,  therefore my recruitment was easy and came via an introduction by an old friend, Howard Matthews, to the persuasive Ayanna Black during their dinner-meeting at my family restaurant 'StingRays'.  Our initial meeting later  evolved into my volunteering and bringing along for the ride many of my business clients, friends, colleagues, and with their support: 

  • produced and staged the Pre- CELAFI'92  celebration event for the publication launch of VOICES

  • produced and staged a CELAFI'92 celebratory set in the street window of Page's Book Store ,

  • produced and set-dressed  Ayanna's CELAFI'92 Now Magazine Cover shoot at Stingrays using props of  African Artifacts on loan from a client 

  • produced, staged and set dressed CELAFI'92 Opening Invocation ceremony at Harbourfront 

  • create and produced for CELAFI'92, Toronto's first 'jerk chicken in a pita sandwich', as an overnight emergency stand-in for a no-show food vendor.   

  • 1992-1993, on behalf of CAN:BAIA wrote and produced the 'Artist' Proposal Development Seminar Resource Manual' ISBN 0-9696217-1-X

  • 1994-1995,  designed, developed, facilitated for CAN: BAIA a series of traveling skills development workshops which offered artists across the country (six provinces) information and training in marketing and presentation of their creative output. 

Needless to say I was all in: In each province I was greeted by Black-artists who viewed the outreach and workshop content like the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, so when contracted to design an analytical road map to CELAFI 1997, it was an opportunity to apply the insights gained by  traveling the provinces meeting other Black Canadian Artists and one of those lessons were how invisible they and their works were to each other and the national arts community.

  • 1995 contracted as CELAFI'97 General Manger with the task of executing the conference and festival as envisioned by my road-map report.

  • 1996 launched the CAN: BAIA's National Black Artists' Resource Centre and Slide Registry to record the works of African Canadian visual artists, as a lead-in to the CELAFI'97 -  a task that could only be accomplished by sending Artist/Curator Scott Marsden from province to province, with camera.

  • 1997 CELAFI brought with it a singular highlite - my meeting with Rosa Parks - who arrive in Toronto  un-announced as a surprise gift to her friend Artis Lane on the occasion of her homing-coming exhibition of  her sculptures at the Royal Ontario Museum.

CELAFI 1997 was an ambitious undertaking and not every aspiration was fulfilled, but those that did shone their light on all, allowing us to experience a 'true blossoming' and the emergence of the African Canadian Artist.

 For both Orla Garriques and myself, this undertaken was driven by a sense of "where am I  in this equation we call being a Canadian". The current contents of the CELAFI'25 Online Archive are drawn from my personal collection and records with contribution by Orla Garriques, who also designed and build CELAFI'25 Online presence.  However we are hoping  those who visit will want to add their memories and/or archive to the collection for all to celebrate and share

ART CONNECTS, ORLA Garriques (250 words)

In 1997 Orla Garriques  Join the Organization, it was A life-changing moment and my first exposure to the incredible wealth of talent and history that I have been missing in my education and 

- Meeting Marva, led to a life long of projects and collaborations, starting with Artists Slide registry Munn’s archives played a critical role in my discovery and pursuit in the art.

- The CELAFI experience was on of multi-decipline, .... and

This experience left an indelible mark and marked the beginning of my work in the arts 

- 1998 -1999, As CAN:BAIA drew to a close one of the final projects as had the privilege of working on was in 1999 she worked with Simon Njami on the Canadian entry to the Revue Noire Travel exhibit and tour 'Anthology of African and Indian Ocean Photography', Presenting a comprehensive chronicle of African photography, work includes over 500 images by 160 photographers from the mid-1800s to the present and 30 essays by .....

"art, artists, and art-making are central to human inspiration, self-realization, and meaning".

My personal experience at CANBAIA provided me with a......... , I see CELAFI'25 Online as a much needed  archival repository dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available the historically and culturally significant outcomes of CELAFI , as well as Art'N Facts about Black Canadian Creators as .


My hope is that CELAFI'25 serves as an open resource for researchers, students, curators, artists  and the general public; supports research on the history, impact, and aesthetics of Canadian arts culture: and to encourage the next generation of  creators by providing a vital  link to their past and connection to the rich contribution; and finally for the participants and contributors to CELAFI a  rediscovery and ... with ...


bottom of page