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Natural Born Tellers: The Stories of Little Jamaica Workshop
Presented by the Black Business Professional Association& Storytelling Toronto

Wednesday, June 22, 2022 5:00 to 7:00 pm
at Judy’s Island Grill (1720 Eglinton Avenue West)

Workshop Presenters and Bios

DEBRA BAPTISTE, Executive Director, Storytelling Toronto

DEBRA BAPTISTE has more than 20 years of experience as an ArtsAdministrator with a focus on strategic planning, performance, presentation,grant writing, and program development. Her positions at FACTOR and the Ontario Arts Council exposed her to a vastrange of arts activity from Ontario’s most innovative arts practitioners,facilitators, and curators at the forefront of the arts community.

Debra has supported arts organizations like No Strings Attached Theatre and Six Ah Wi Artists
Collective with her grant writing skills and experience. For several years, she and sat on the Boardof Artscape Incorporated, where she served on its Strategic Vision Committee.

To date, Debra considers her work as Executive Festival Director of the TorontoInternational Storytelling Festival at Storytelling Toronto to be one of the highlights of her career. She considers thecuration, presentation and production of the world’s second oldest storytelling festival to be atruly career-defining and fulfilling experience.

Now, as Executive Director for Storytelling Toronto, Debra isexcited to serve the storytelling community in Toronto and beyond with innovative, relevant andeffective programs and services.

MARGARET NELSON, Senior Advisor, NBT Project

Is a retired RN and community advocate. As a nurse, Margaret specialized in pediatrics, neonatology, adult and children critical care, and emergency care. She has worked extensively in Baltimore MD., Washington DC. South Florida, Los Angeles, California, and New York andwas a nursing instructor at Humber college.

Since her childhood growing up in Jamaica, Margaret has served as a community advocate and care taker for the most vulnerable. Here in Toronto, Nelson has engaged in community work since 1975 starting with the Black Education Project (BEP), where she found solutions to the gaps effecting Black childrenin the Canadian school system.After moving to the Jane Finch area, she also became an active member of the (JCA) Jamaican Canadian Association and started to teach English and assisted with after-school programs.

Ms. Nelson is familiar with many of Toronto’sblack artists including Mr. Devon Haughton, Toronto’s first Dub Poet and an accomplished playwright of Jamaican comedy and poetry. Along with Mr. Haughton and Mr. Dewitt Lee, shestarted a non-profit organization to raise funds for The Afrocentric Alternative School.

Ms. Nelson’s other community contributions are too numerous to mention but include:

  • Donations of children clothing, bed linen, medication, gloves, nursing books, etc. to Cornwall Regional Hospital and University Hospital of the West Indies Mona Campus in Kingston Jamaica;
  • serving as a member of the North Etobicoke Resident Council (NERC);
  • serving as member of the Local Champions (which came out of the Toronto Strong Neighborhood Strategy (TSNS));
  • obtaining a certificate from George Brown College in Human Rightsto improve her community advocacy effectiveness;
  • participating in the Confronting Anti-Black Racism/PAC (Partnership for Accountability Circle);
  • actively working with a business owner in Little Jamaica to hold on to their property.

Margaret Nelson is also a poet and the mother of one of the co-founders of the iconic Toronto designer clothing line ‘2 Black Guys’.

Debra and Margaret will engage participants in discussions about:

  • Storytelling for Community Building (why it’s needed)
  • The importance of hearing your story
  • The importance of telling your story (special benefitsfor seniors)
  • Appeal to the seniors of Little Jamaica and to seniors of Toronto’s Caribbean community

DWAYNE MORGAN, poet, speaker, social entrepreneur

Known as the Godfather of Canadian Spoken Word, Dwayne Morgan is a two-time Canadian National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the 2018 Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award for Career Achievement in the Spoken Word. Morgan has received both the African Canadian Achievement Award, and the Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2012, Morgan performed at Super Bowl 46, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

As author of 13 published and 9 audio collections of his work, Morgan was a finalist for the 2021 Toronto Arts Foundation Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davis Award, 2013 finalist for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and a 2013 inductee into the Scarborough Walk of Fame.

Dwayne’s work ethic has taken him across Canada, the United States, Jamaica, Turkey, Trinidad, Bermuda, Barbados, England, Scotland, Belgium, Budapest, Germany, France, Norway, Ghana, and Holland. His emphasis on quality has driven his success, and has made him a well-respected component of Toronto’s artistic community.

During this workshop, Dwayne will explore:

  • The Importance of People Around Us
  • The Power of Ordinary People

KESHA CHRISTIE, Storyteller, Educator

Kesha Christie is an Afro-Caribbean Storyteller who tells Caribbean and African folklore, Aesop fables and original works. In the Afro-Caribbean tradition, stories are meant to be told orally to preserve culture, demonstrate life lessons and promote unity. As an animated ‘edutainer’ for all ages, Kesha ignites the imagination and carries her audience on an amazing journey from tale to tale. Through her stories and workshops, she interweaves history and motivationalspeaking. Her workshops teach communication and leadership skills.

Kesha is a member of Durham Storytellers, Storyteller of Canada and has a weekly podcast called Walk Good and a YouTube channel under ‘Talkin’ Tales’, which amplify the power of stories. For more information visit www.talkintales.ca.

During this workshop, Kesha will tell some stories inspired by Miss Lou with the aim of

  • connecting people and culture through African and Caribbean folktales
  • sharing stories that hook and ignite the imagination.