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IRIE Fest 2008; A Multi-Media Celebration, August 1-4, 2008, Toronto

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The seventh annual TD Canada Trust IRIE Music Festival is a multi-media extravaganza featuring film, dance, visual art, spoken word and tropical cuisine as well as great music. It all takes place at Nathan Phillips Square and Queens Park with films being screened at Innis Town Hall , Innis College Town Hall , University of Toronto . All events are free admission. For more information, please visit www.iriemusicfestival.com.



July 31 to August 1, 2008.
Innis Town Hall , Innis College Town Hall , University of Toronto
2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto.

These films are being presented as part of the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death
Adwa An African Victory
Darwin’s Nightmare
500 Years Later

Infoline: 905-799-1630 ext.38

Aug. 3,  Showcase @ 2pm
Queens Park

In partnership with dance Immersion, TD Canada Trust IRIE Fest offers its audiences a variety of dance presentations that evoke diverse artistic experiences. They encourage and present dancers and dances of the African Diaspora, and provide a nurturing and supportive environment for aspiring artists working in various styles.

Baby Boyz
Caribbean Dance Theatre
Ishay School of Dance
Chemagne-Belly Dancer
Ngoma dance and drum ensemble


Aug. 1-4 @ City Hall’s Rotunda, Nathan Phillips Square
Visual displays by current, political and passionate artists including Ato Seitu, Robert Small, Ras Stone, Tafewa Turner, Adisa Oji, known as Brother Oji and Carl Cassel


Aug. 1-4 @ City Hall’s Rotunda, Nathan Phillips Square
Literary buffs can check out the guest authors, poets and panelists at the Literary Tent.
Spoken word artists include Dwayne Morgan, Anne-Marie Woods, Al St. Louis and J. Nichole.
Several new authors will be reading from their books including Heron Jones, author of Telephone Love and I am a Child of the Sun (poetry and short stories), Kevin G. Brooks, author of the novel Willowcreek Disciple, Leroy Comrie, author of the children’s book Ten Little Rain Drops, Angelot Ndongmo and Sophia Shaw.


Aug. 1-4 @ Queens Park
“Taste of the Tropics”

Food will be plentiful and there will be cooking demonstrations by two of Canada ’s top chefs that will delight audiences and tickle tastebuds.



Prolific, intense, opinionated, passionate, are words depicting the many faces of Jamaican Canadian artist Ato Seitu. Much of his work draws the eye to the face, and all that it often reveals about the human soul. Whether using fine lines painstakingly inked in black on white, or brilliant colours that pop from his art board, Seitu is an artist whose creative voice is as distinct as every painting he has produced over the past 30 years. His art poses questions, raises issues and, at times, simply celebrates beauty. A featured artist in Toronto ’s 2006-2007 Genius Loves Company exhibit, Seitu’s work has toured Canada , the U.S. , the Caribbean and Africa , captivating audiences with a brand of graphic fine art that speaks to humanity. Born in Kingston , Jamaica , Seitu migrated to Canada in 1963, completing a diploma course in graphic arts at George Brown College and later a Masters degree in social environmental studies at York University . In the 1970s, the anti-apartheid freedom movement in South Africa influenced Seitu’s work and many of his pieces were used to educate African society about freedom and democracy. In 1993 Seitu co-founded the Six Ah Wi Art Collective, an organization set up to expose and foster recognition for the contributions of African-Canadian artists to the continuing development of the visual arts landscape in Canada and the world.


African-Canadian Robert Small first had his artwork published in a city-wide newspaper at the age of sixteen. Ever since then, Small has developed his artwork and become one of the most popular Canadian artists of the past decade.

While others pondered how to garner interest in Black History Month, Small demonstrated strong initiative by creating a poster called The Official Black History Month Poster in 1995. This, along with his regular exposure in the media, would change how artists looked at their work as well as their ability to reach a broader market. Small has demonstrated outstanding leadership when it comes to promoting the achievements of African-Canadians, by creating a poster that gets better every year. Small’s efforts have paved the way for young artists to be more confident about their work and self-worth.

Small was the first African-Canadian artist in history to appear in mainstream media such as Muchmusic, TSN and CBC Radio. He has also been prominently featured in The Toronto Star four times. Small is also the first African-Canadian artist to appear on the front cover of local newspaper 24. His artwork has consistently been the centrepiece of Black History Month celebrations and has been supported by many community organizations, corporations and police service boards.

Solely responsible for initiating the first Black History Month campaign in Canadian history – when the Bank of Montreal posted a copy of his poster in all of their branches across Canada – Small is presently entering the fourteenth year of creating this annual poster series now called LEGACY.

The former Manager of the Ministry of Youth and Children’s Services’ Youth Outreach program and the former Director of the YMCA Black Achiever’s program, he was also the youngest Director in that program’s history. Small presently sits on the board of Yorktown Family Services. The proud father of two daughters, he is a self-taught artist who graduated from the University of Windsor with a degree in sociology and a certificate in criminology. 


Ras Stone’s signature paintings of elongated, sinewy female figures, award winning carnival costume designs and playful children’s book illustrations and sculptures distinguish him as one of Canada’s most innovative multi-media artists. Known for creating art that evokes movement, whether on the body of a Caribana carnival King or Queen, on canvas, paper or free-standing in the form of meticulously twisted and bent wire structures, Stone has contributed significantly to the Canadian Caribbean art landscape.

A self-taught artist, his 2006 Skin to Steel exhibit at York University ’s Fine Arts Gallery in Toronto was the first of its kind, using art to tell the story of the birth of the drum and the evolution of the steel pan; an instrument indigenous to Trinidad , the country where Stone was born. Stone’s carnival costumes composed of wire, papier-maché, colourful fabrics, beading, and more have toured Canada and the U.S. In 1991, the Royal Ontario Museum ‘s Caribbean Celebrations exhibit featured Quetzalcoatl the Mayan God, one of his most famous creations. In 1993, Harbourfront’s Festival of Lights put on display his piece Sun Worshipper. That year, impressed with his artisanship, the McMichael Canadian Art Gallery in Kleinberg contracted Stone to lecture and conduct a workshop on creative costume design titled, Mas Hysteria. His artwork can also be found in a number of children’s books including Art of Enlightenment and The History of Art in Toronto Schools.

Born in San Fernando near Trinidad’s south coast, Stone migrated to Canada in 1974. Since then, he has participated in numerous group and one-man shows and many Institutions and individuals – including the Toronto Board of Education and the Trinidad and Tobago Consulate – own his paintings.    

A member of the Six Ah Wi Art Collective, Stone has used his unlimited prints and artist proofs to raise funds for various charity foundations. His most recent work presents multi-media artistic renderings of 20th century icons including Emperor Haile Selassie, Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Bob Marley and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Tafewa Turner is a young, provocative 21st Century artist. Blurring the lines between abstraction and realism, he’s known for creating vibrant works on canvas that explore emotional themes. Also known for his use of multi-media and discussions of the process involved in creating, Turner creates works that communicate using visible and hidden imagery that surface more, the longer you view his paintings. 

A self-taught artist, Turner’s most recent work was featured in the 2006 Genius Loves Company exhibit edition 1 at the Arta Gallery in Toronto ‘s Distillery District and in the 2007 edition 2 at the Gladstone Hotel Gallery in Toronto .

Born in Kingston , Jamaica in 1980, Turner migrated to Canada in 1991. A member of Toronto¹s Sox Ah Wi Art Collective, a grouping of Toronto artists of African-Canadian descent, Turner’s work reflects his Jamaican and Canadian roots, although he says, “You are not necessarily defined by the place where you were born, or where you live. A combined narrative makes our story what it is.”         

Turner is a graduate of the University of Toronto ‘s political science and sociology departments. He was also a Charter Member of Dynamic Dundee Toastmaster and in 2007 received a certificate of merit for public speaking. Most recently he provided volunteer creative consultative service to the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.


Sophia released her debut novel, Shades and Shadows, in January 2005. As an avid reader, she was inspired by many of the great romantic writers, and was convinced she could write a story that was engrossing and enjoyable. Shades and Shadows is that story, and received widespread positive reviews, along with her additional two novels, Depths of Desire and Moment of Truth. Sophia is the recipient of the 2007 Arts Acclaim Award by the City of Brampton , and will release her fourth novel, A Rare Groove, in July 2008.

Angelot was born and raised in Ottawa , Ontario . She then moved to Brampton , Ontario in the summer of 2002. Her first writing accomplishment was an article published in Black Woman & Child magazine. She has always enjoyed working with youth and writing is her pastime. Those two worlds collided during her current position as a youth worker.  Remembering her own personal struggles as a young girl, she recognized the need for reading materials geared towards black children that would help them embrace their own beauty and enchanting features. A burning desire set in to do something about it, and the end result was her first children’s book, Loving Me.  

Kevin was born in the mid ’70s, the first-born of Jamaican immigrants and called New York City his home for eight years. In the early ’80s an oil boom in the Southern regions of the United States created an opportunity for the young family to migrate to Houston , Texas . While in Houston , Kevin excelled in sports, but also became acquainted with the realities of the thug life. Shortly thereafter, he quit sports and school and fully committed himself to the thug life. Due to circumstances, he was forced to relocate to Toronto , Ontario , and then Miami , Florida . While in Miami , he broke his neck and acquired a spinal cord injury that left him partially paralyzed. Subsequently, he denounced the thug life and dedicated his life to God the Father. The rest of Kevin Brooks’ life is still in the making, so stay tuned…

Leroy has a full, deep appreciation of the wonder and awe of early years, and that connection between father and son. That’s one of the reasons why he wrote and published 10 Little Rain Drops, a beautifully illustrated work that tells the simple, imaginative tale of Kevin, Leroy’s real-life son, experiencing a period of playing outside during a brief rain shower. When the shower ends and the sun comes out, Kevin’s world and the world around him brightens.

Heron is an author, journalist and spoken-word poet.  His goal is to edu-tain audiences into a state of complete bliss, emphasizing expression above words.  His poetry and prose is described as a gut-wrenching reminder of the everyday addictions which we constantly deny.

J Nichole is a multi-talented artist who has recorded one CD and written eight poetry books and two children’s books.  Sheila Walsh of CHFI Radio 98.1 FM has described J. Nichole as being, “very reminiscent of Maya Angelou.” Her diversity has allowed her to break down many cultural barriers, and grace many  multi-genre stages. This has garnered her much attention, leading to several awards and recognitions. She was a finalist in the 2007 Mississauga Arts Council Emerging Literary Award category. In 2006 J. Nichole won the Women’s Worth Award. She also won the Dub Poetry category of the 2005 Toronto International Reggae Music Awards and a nomination for the 2008 Canadian Reggae Music Award Newcomer.

Dwayne Morgan began his career as a spoken word artist in 1993.  He is the founder of Up From The Roots entertainment, which was established in 1994 to promote the positive artistic contributions of African-Canadian and urban-influenced artists.

Dwayne’s work was recognized in 1998 when he received both the African Canadian Achievement Award, and the Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in the Arts. He is also the winner of three Canadian Urban Music Awards (2001, 2003, 2005). In 2005 Morgan was recognized as Poet of Honour at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Vancouver , and in 2008 Morgan’s contribution to the Arts and Canadian society were recognized on the Official Black History Month poster, and the Toronto Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations’ Black History Month poster.

Dwayne has shared the stage with many of Canada ’s top artists including Kardinal Offishal, Jully Black, K-OS and Nelly Furtado, while also opening for international artists such as Alicia Keys, Saul Williams, Les Nubians, and author Colin Channer.

Dwayne’s most recent book, The Making of A Man, hit store shelves in July of 2005, following The Man Behind The Mic, Long Overdue, and chapbooks The Revolution Starts Within, and Straight From The Roots. His albums include, The Evolution, Soul Searching, A Decade in the Making, and Mellow Mood: The End of the Beginning. Dwayne’s work has been used by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation’s “See People For Who They Really Are” print and television ad campaign, as well as educational projects for the 411 Initiative for Change. Dwayne is a motivational speaker, who currently hosts Diasporic Music, a monthly spoken-word show on CKLN 88.1 FM, while also serving as an advice columnist in the free daily paper, 24 Hours (Sun Media).

Dwayne recently collaborated with Driftwood Studios to film Three Knocks, a ten-minute film based on his domestic violence poem of the same name, which was premiered in Toronto ’s Reel World Film Festival. In March 2008, Dwayne hosted his first photography exhibit, The Sum of Her Parts, which explored female body image.



Anthony Mair has had a storied career to date as a world-class chef. Highlights include cooking for the Queen of England on a royal visit to Toronto in 1997. He’s also cooked for the NBA Dream Team. Chef Mair, a graduate of George Brown’s Culinary Management Program, has won three gold, three silver and three bronze awards at the International Cooking School Challenge. He has also travelled widely and opened a Mardi Gras restaurant in Kiev , Ukraine . He’s also featured on a TV show called Beer Buddies and he’s a chef at Harlem Restaurant in downtown Toronto .


Victor “Tipper” Henry of Tipper’s Fast Food Ltd. is a well known community entrepreneur, in business since 1986. Tipper is also the chef of choice for many international reggae artists visiting Toronto . His take-out restaurant is a home away from home for many Torontonians and visitors who travel from many miles away to enjoy his special recipes. A visit to his restaurant on Weston Road at Jane Street encompasses a virtual gallery of famous reggae entertainers, many of whom have become personal friends. Tipper is also the founder of Taste of the Caribbean/African Food Expo. He has supported many cultural events and has in the past awarded several community icons and entertainers. Tipper makes another return to TD Canada Trust Irie Music Festival as a popular chef for the third year in a row.


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Written by Staff Writer