The Legacy Awards was about pride and self-acceptance says SHIFTER’s Kevin Bourne in his The Legacy Awards 2022 recap.
Tonight, the who’s-who of Canadian Black entertainment and culture descended on History in downtown Toronto for the first annual Legacy Awards presented by the Black Academy. Canada’s brightest Black talent, including Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, Savannah Ré, André De Grasse, and Tyrone Edwards, took to the black carpet to celebrate this groundbreaking moment.
While focusing on the accomplishments of Black Canadians, the Legacy Awards not only represented the coming-of-age of Black Canada, but of Canada at-large, with these kinds of outright celebrations of Blackness usually reserved for the United States. Where it differed from its American counterparts was its acknowledgment of genres like rock music and its unashamedly Caribbean influences. Both culturally and aesthetically, it was different from any awards ceremony this country has seen before. Where other Canadian awards ceremonies (which shall remain nameless) look like a low-budget production compared to American awards ceremonies, the Legacy Awards looked and felt like a big American production, from the hosting to the layout of the audience.
While a number of attendees, including hosts and founders Shamier Anderson and Stephan James, expressed shock that this was actually happening, there was an equal sentiment of pride. Not only should this be a moment of pride for the Black community, but for all Canadians. It’s an aspect of Canadian culture, usually reserved for Instagram or family functions, that we’ve never seen on Canadian television until now.
The night gave us some memorable moments, including the Women in Music All-Stars, where Fefe Dobson, Jully Black, Alicia Mighty, Melanie Fiona and Sate performed “We Rise” to close the show. There was TSN anchor Kayla Grey’s tear-jerking acceptance speech while accepting the Jahmil French Award, given to a “rising star” in Canadian media. There were a lot of “mans” and other Torontoisms, and they even took some time to celebrate the decline of the patty shop, distributing patties to the audience. I mean, what would a Black function be without patties?
For many in attendance it felt like a homecoming or a type of coming out party. For people like etalk’s Tyrone Edwards, it was a time to literally let their hair down; a time to talk the way we really talk without caring about what white Canada thinks. It was a night of self-acceptance as we sat at the table that we built.
While it may be too early to talk about the legacy of the Legacy Awards, its greatest impact may be emboldening Black Canadians to be ourselves while opening the eyes of everyone else, and inspiring the building of more platforms like this to celebrate Black Canadians the other 364 days of the year.
For our red carpet interviews, visit SHIFTER on Instagram at @shiftermagazine.