Wildseed Centre for Art & Activism is a vessel that seeks to nurture Black radical creation in Toronto and beyond. Inspired by Octavia Butler’s evocative novel, this artist-run centre aims to be fertile ground for Black creativity and organizing.
Wildseed was birthed by Black Lives Matter artivists who hope to build an enduring space that could cultivate the most transformative and radical ideas from Toronto’s diverse Black communities.
Wildseed is a transformed industrial space; a blank canvas reimagined as a multipurpose artist-run community incubator, gallery, studio and home to Black Lives Matter — Canada. Wildseed is a transfeminist, queer affirming space politically aligned with supporting Black liberation work across Canada.
Wildseed has been reimagined by space designers Tom Kuo and Helen Yung of Foundation Creative Studio and Architect Bryan C. Lee Jr. Founder & Design Principal at Colloqate.
Wildseed is located in T’karón:to on Three Fires Territory and the territory of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum. This area is covered by Treaty 13. We learn from the Land and are so thankful to be here, in this place. We are in solidarity with Land Back and support Indigenous resurgence.
Ravyn Ariah Wngz (She/Her)
Ravyn Ariah Wngz (She/Her), “The Black Widow of Burlesque” is a Tanzanian, Bermudian, Mohawk, 2Spirit, empowerment movement storyteller of Trans experience. An abolitionist, and Black Renaissance Artivist. Her work is rooted in Black liberation and Indigenous Resurgence. She has a vision to create work/art/conversations that open minds, expand truths and deepen intellectual commitments into lived practices. Her purpose is to elevate the level of our collective global humanity. Ravyn is a co-founder of ILL NANA/DiverseCity Dance Company, The Artistic Director of Outrageous Victorious Africans Collective, a steering committee member of Black Live Matter Toronto, and Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter Canada.
Rodney Diverlus (He/They)
Rodney Diverlus (He/They) is a Haitian-Canadian multidisciplinary artivist, performance-maker, and artist whose work incorporates contemporary and afrikanic movement dance practices, physical theatre, and public arts-based interventions. His artivism imagines large-scale public installations that blur the lines of protest and performance.He has presented and interpreted works for companies from across Canada, including Art Gallery of Ontario, Canadian Opera Company, Stratford Festival, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, SummerWorks Festival, the Dietrich Group, to name a few. He is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter – Canada, Black Lives Matter —Toronto, and previously, Lead Canadian Organizer for the Black Lives Matter Global Network . He is co-author of Canadian bestseller Until We are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada.
Sandy Hudson (She/Her)
Sandy Hudson (She/Her), is an activist, public intellectual and creative with a talent for inspiring others to imagine just futures. The founder of the Black Lives Matter movement presence in Canada and Black Lives Matter – Toronto, Sandy also helped to found the Black Legal Action Centre. Sandy currently co-hosts the Sandy and Nora Talk Politics podcast, and has appeared in numerous international publications. Sandy has been honoured as one of Toronto Life’s 50 Most Influential Torontonians, Post City Magazine’s Most Inspiring Women, and Canada International Black Women’s 100 Black women to watch. Sandy has a background in choral music, musical theatre and photography and is passionate about infusing the arts into her social justice praxis. She is co-author of the best-seller, Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada.
Syrus Marcus Ware (He/Him)
Syrus Marcus Ware (He/Him) is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Arts, McMaster University. He is a Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus uses drawing, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. His work has been shown widely, including a solo show at Grunt Gallery, Vancouver and new works commissioned for the Toronto Biennial of Art and Ryerson Image Centre. He is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter- Canada, and a core-team member of Black Lives Matter – Toronto. He is a part of the Performance Disability Art Collective, and an ABD PhD candidate at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. His curatorial work includes That’s So Gay and BlacknessYes!/Blockorama. He is the co-editor or the best-selling Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada.
Jessica Kirk (She/Her), Executive Director
Jessica Kirk is a community organizer and cultural curator based in Toronto, whose creative practice is rooted in racial justice and community care. Jessica is the Executive Director at Wildseed Centre for Art & Activism, an artist-run centre that serves as fertile ground for Black creativity and organizing in the city. During her previous time at the Writers’ Union of Canada, she initiated BIPOC Writers Connect, a literary mentorship program for emerging Black, Indigenous and racialized writers. She is also co-founder of multidisciplinary collective Way Past Kennedy Road. Jess is a recent MA thesis graduate in Social Justice Education from the University of Toronto (OISE). Her writing has appeared in The Canadian Geographer, Cartographies of Blackness and Black Indigeneities, and This Magazine.
Imani Busby (She/Her), Social Media Coordinator
Imani Busby is an entrepreneurial and artistic undergraduate student studying Creative Industries at X University (Ryerson’s name has been replaced with ‘X’ as a symbol of genocide and intergenerational trauma. Read this article for more details). She aspires to become a gallerist and is currently a member of the X Fashion Zone where she is developing a cultural preservation Memory Lab. Additionally, Imani is a research assistant for the Studio for Media Activism and Critical Thought at X University. As she is passionate about social justice, Imani co-founded Toronto’s Manifesto, an Instagram based platform dedicated to providing educational resources surrounding Black and Indigenous history, abolition, and community care.
Mila Natasha Mendez (She/They), Black Arts Fellowship Coordinator
Mila Natasha Mendez is a first-generation queer Black Chinese-Trinidadian Canadian living in Tkaronto/Toronto. She is a performer and festival coordinator with Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers (@rawtaiko), a coordinator for the Wildseed Black Arts Fellowship, a PhD candidate working in and with Black Feminisms at York University, and a lover of doughs, porridges and plants. Whether through performance, administration, academia, learning to grow food or cooking for community, Mila hopes to endeavour in the lineages of those who have laboured for our collective liberation.
Elizabeth Mudenyo (She/Her), Fellowship Coordinator
Elizabeth Mudenyo is a Scarborough-based poet, community organizer, artist, and arts manager. She has worked all sides of the film festival circuit, with groups like the Regent Park Film Festival, Hot Docs, and the Racial Equity Media Collective, among others. She managed Home Made Visible, an award-winning nationwide archival project capturing the joys of BIPOC home movies. She continues to immerse herself in arts programming engaging the voices, imaginations and sacred knowledge of Black and Brown communities. Practicing community care and intentional placemaking she currently works with Scarborough collective The Group Project, Justice for Migrant Workers and the Wildseed Centre for Arts & Activism. Her first poetry chapbook, With Both Hands, is available through Anstruther Press. www.elizabethmudenyo.com
Venessa Harris (She/Her), Administrative Associate
Venessa Harris is a writer, creative, and arts management professional living and working in Toronto. Venessa has been involved with various membership-based arts organizations, in which she’s worked to uplift voices of marginalized artists, authors, illustrators, performers, filmmakers, and content creators. She has been working in the not-for-profit and charitable sector for over a decade, including positions at the Canadian Association of Community Health Centres, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, and Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario, among others. She is the producer of the Canadian Screen Award winning short film PICK (dir. Alicia K. Harris), which follows a young girl who wears her afro to school on picture day and must deal with the unexpected consequences.
Shorna James (She/Her), Operations and Finance Director
Shorna James has worked in the Charitable Non-Profit Sector in a Financial Management role since 2004. Shorna earned a diploma in Accountancy – Business studies from Humber College in 1996 and has pursued studies through the Chartered Professional Accountants – Toronto and through York University Bachelor degree program over the years.
She has worked in the Gender-based Violence, Mental Health, Addiction and Religious sectors, and with a Foundation that deals specifically with supporting Indigenous communities on Turtle Island by addressing environmental issues.
Social Justice and Humanitarian needs have always been at the forefront in her life and career. In addition to Indigenous solidarity and environmental justice, Shorna fights for an inclusive society by challenging barriers that devalue and threaten Black people, people living with disabilities, and other marginalized communities.