Since 2011, The Esplanade – one of downtown Toronto’s most diverse communities – has been enlivened by the local arts group Jamii (Swahili for "community"). Through the production of over 120 memorable arts-based experiences that recognize and celebrate all people and genders while nurturing female leadership, Jamii strengthens community and lifts spirits.
In the Fall of 2019. Jamii visited Wawa and invited people to create visual portraits of fellow neighbours, friends or family member. All together 21 beautiful portraits were created. (video here)
On Sept 19th and 20th, Jamii comes back to Wawa to exhibit all 21 portraits, along with portraits made in Toronto, Wolfe Island and Pikangikum First Nation as part of the same project.
Along with this beautiful exhibit, Jamii has invited amazing local artists to share with you an evening of outdoor live entertainment. Artists have been tasked to choose one of the portraits created in Wawa and to bring it to life through music, dance, storytelling, and drumming for you.
A delightful evening together with artists Damian Binda, Isabella Imperatori, Joanne Poisson, Joanne Wilson, Mirinda Patterson and Samatha Stewart.
On August 21st, you are invited for a unique pop-up performance featuring four amazing artists. Jamii is thrilled to welcome back Heidi Chan (flute, drum), Jonelle Sills (opera), Raha Javanfar (violin), and to welcome for the first time in our community Eman Hillawi (lollilop lyra artist).
The performance is titled HISIA, which is a Swahili word for inner feelings, emotions and thoughts. Jamii has invited these artists to connect with one another through a structured improvisation exploring their individual whirlwind of emotions since pandemic hit us mid-March. We all lived through the same major event, but all had a different journey. HISIA is a window into our unique ways to deal with the same situation.
The Jamii teams hope you will come “look through the window” with us – as usual, at a safe physical distance from one another.
This event is presented in partnership with Canadian Stage and supported by the Ontario Arts Council - Conseil des arts de l'Ontario.
Craft, exhibit and live arts in the park.
Join us in the park with someone from your social bubble (family, friends or neighbours), and create, through arts and craft, a portrait of one another. This creative session will then be followed by live performances with artists Ashima Suri, Jonelle Sills, Jeremiah Sparks, Michael Caldwell, Paulina O’Kieffe-Anthony and Sue Croweagle, with host Ryan G. Hinds.
3pm to 6pm: your portrait creation with facilitators Gillian Mapp and Sharon Zarita.
6pm & 7pm: live performance
Friday July 17th Crombie Park (Princess and The Esplanade)
Saturday July 18th St. James Park (by the Playground) – in partnership with Friends of St James Park.
This project is supported by the Ontario Arts Council. A special thank you to the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association for supporting local artists and to the St Lawrence Market BIA to help us with chairs and tables.
Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration
An evening of dancing, singing and drumming in Crombie Park
On June 21st, it was our deepest honour to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day in David Crombie Park.
In 2020, Jamii is launching Laini, a women in leaderhsip initiative.
LAINI will help participants to:
- Develop their leadership skills;
- Discover their talents and gifts;
- Ignite their self-drive;
- Connect to matching mentors.
The Wind Carries
An intra-provincial project that connects people in Wolfe Island, Wawa, Michipicoten First Nation, Pikangikum First Nation and The Esplanade neighbourhood in Toronto.
This project invites people from each community to create the portrait of a fellow community member through creative writing, visual arts, and photography.
"The Stories The Wind Carries" takes place in both 2019 and 2020.
This project is supported by Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des arts du Canada,Ontario Arts Council- Conseil des arts de l'Ontario, and Toronto Arts Council.
St Lawrence Cheering Section
On Oct 20th, Jamii won the First Prize for Best Cheering Section of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Jamii also organized the Family Fun Run, an annual 1km-run that starts from Berkeley St and The Esplanade, and takes participants all the way to Berczy Park. About 60 people of all ages participated.
Sun, Oct 20th
Family Fun Run
On July 24th, more than 100 people joined us in the park to meet dancer Neena Jarayajan.
Performances and discussion were hosted by award-winning dance artist Nova Bhattacharya. Discover Dance is a monthly event at the Sony Center that features some of Toronto’s incredible dance artists - this time, in our local park!
I am me (Girl, I got you)
By 10 talented young women
This exhibit invites viewers to push beyond the confines of society’s image of women. Created by 10 young women under the artistic leadership of Brianna Roye and Isorine Marc, this exhibit is displayed in Crombie Park in May 2019 as part of CONTACT, Photography Festival.
(The Esplanade & Jarvis St)
Finalist to the
Community Arts Award by the Toronto Arts Foundation
Sept 24 2020
Jamii is about to celebrate its 10-year anniversary (2011-2021) and this nomination feels like a recognition for and appreciation of the artistic quality, the depth of our social contract, and our commitment to the Esplanade community. It is also an energizing wind blowing our sails as we look ahead to the next 10 years.
This nomination goes to the hundreds of artists who define Jamii; to the hundreds of Esplanadians who have participated in arts-making with us; to those who have worked with us through the years, paid or unpaid, including directors of our board; and to those who kept on encouraging us in their own way during our journey.
By Isorine Marc: "I hope that everyone who has ever added a brick to the wall to build the Jamii house feels the butterflies. I do."
We are thrilled to welcome back to Lua Shayenne Dance Company in our community for a set of performances in Parliament Square Park on Aug 4th and 5th (back up for rain on Aug 6th), at 6pm and 7pm. Dance performances will be accompanied by a visual arts exhibit showcasing the work of local artist Andrew Patterson. Join us for a Q&A on both day, at 7:20pm, right after Lua's second performance.
In partnership with Canadian Stage, supported by Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.
Art video premiere at the Berkeley Castle on July 24th & 25th.
In the Spring of 2020, Jamii and Canadian Stage partnered to invite eleven women, residents of the Esplanade community, to express artistically their personal journey during the COVID-19 pandemic through the creation of a reflective art video.
A project in partnership with Canadian Stage and supported by Canada Council for the Arts and Toronto Arts Council.
Featuring Domanique Grant, Leen Hamo, Iman Abdul Razzak, Jeremiah Sparks, Sara Luey, Alessandro Montelli, Johnny Toronto, Lua Shayenne, Cécé Haba, Arlene Paculan, Cleon Wong, Ayelen Liberona, Malavika Santhosh, Ekaterina.
COVID-19 has shaken Jamii to its core values by greatly limiting social connection. But it is of greater importance that we practice physical distancing to limit the spread of the virus.
At Jamii, we believe it is our social responsibility to care for our community during such extraordinary times.
We are producing live performances in the streets, courtyards and parks of our community, encouraging people to watch from a safe distance.
Live arts has healing effects we wish to share around.
Winner of the 2019 Public History Award - Heritage Toronto
This award recognizes work that celebrates our city's rich heritage and diverse stories of its people and places.
What an honour this is for our Esplanade community, especially the 157 people who took part in creating this film which shines a light on our neighbourhood, and invites people to reflect on the values that drive community development.
A big thank you to the amazing Ayelen Liberona and Joseph Johnson Camí who directed the film and Jamii's producer, Isorine Marc!
"At Heart" was produced by support from Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des arts du Canada and Ontario Arts Council - Conseil des arts de l'Ontario.
I am me.
I am beauty.
A self-reflective workshop that celebrated our inner beauty and natural qualities, led by Empathy Facilitator Georgia Reynolds
Throughout August, a group of 11 young women were engaged in a workshop exploring inner values and a deeper understanding of self. With this confidence in their abilities, participants created a one-year vision board as a template for goal setting.
Jamii and the St. Lawrence Library co-presented a fabulous event for children of all ages!
A very special story time with drag queens Atmos Fierce and Lucinda Miu; Face painting with our local artist Linda Epp; live music with amazing Aline Morales; stilt walking by Blake; and last but not least, craft!
Sat, Aug 10th
I am me.
I am mighty.
Jamii and St. Lawrence Library marked this year's Culture Days by celebrating mighty women characters in children books and stories.
This event was a showcase of mighty women who inspire us to be who we are and highlighted the beauty of cultural diversity in our community. Story times were led by Sharon McMilland, Parent Resources EarlyON CFC and St. Lawrence Library. Participants enjoyed live music by Aline Morales and Arlene Paculan, crafted with May Massijeh, had a drawing workshop with Connie Wang and took their live portraits home by Alison Garwood.
Sat, Sept 28th
St. Lawrence Library
2019At Heart, Citizens of The Esplanade
A docu-film co-created by more than 150 Esplanadians.
AWARDS: Best Editing, short documentary film category - Five Continents International Film Festival (Venezuela) - 2019 Best Cinematography, short documentary film category - Five Continents International Film Festival (Venezuela) - 2019 Award of Merit - IndieFest Film Awards (USA)
2019 OFFICIAL SELECTION:
Alternative Film Festival (Canada)
Docs Without Borders Film Festival (USA)
Five Continents International Film Festival (Venezuela)
IndieFEST Film Awards (USA)
Diversity Feedback Film Festivals (Canada)
Wednesday, Aug 26
From 4pm to 7pm
Berkeley Castle Courtyard
On August 26th (rain date on the 27th), we are thrilled to produce the first children’s outdoors festival for the Esplanade community: WAYO (a Swahili word that means footprint, symbolizing the journey to life).
WAYO is a family day to bring creativity in the hearts of our young fellows, awakening imaginations and touching souls.
The artist line-up is exciting!
We have invited Indigenous artist Mahlikah Awe:ri with the performance “Becoming a Thunderbird”; Eman Hillawy will be back for a lollipop lyra duet with Alexandra Legendre; And the event will close with a music performance by Bana Stegu and Arlene Paculan.
The whole event will be tied together by our very very tall host Kristi Heath.
During the afternoon, everyone will be invited to create a portrait guided by Sharon Zarita.
Event capacity is limited - book your tickets here.
This event is presented in partnership with Canadian Stage and supported by the Ontario Arts Council.
Unlocked: From seed to sequoia
A reflection by Sharon Zarita
it is a grand pleasure to share with you Zarita’s writing about her experience with "Wind Stories" and "Unlocked". Zarita has been working at Jamii since September of last year and played a major part in bringing these projects to life. She is now finishing her contract with Jamii with the premiere of “Unlocked”, then continuing her beautiful journey of life. It is a full circle, and we are full of gratitude.
On June 27th, join us to celebrate Multiculturalism Day in the park.
On Saturday June 27th, Jamii celebrates the rich cultural diversity of our community in the context of Multiculturalism Day by having a series of short performances in Parliament Square Park. Eight amazing artists will share with you an evening of culture through music, dance, spoken word, and drumming. The 20min performances, which are better enjoyed at a safe physical distance from one another, will begin at 5.30pm, then 6pm and 6:30pm. In case of rain, event will take place on Monday, 29th June – same time, same place.
>> 9th season
>> 88 Artists
>> 48 Workshops
>> 400+ Participants
>> 1500+ Audience members
>> 22 Events
We are grateful for a year of growth, enriching partnerships, exciting projects in our community, and throughout
the Province. A year during which one of our dreams came true: the creation of a mobile theatre for our community, the Kisanii Hub.
I am me.
I am heart.
While the city celebrated the annual Toronto Nuit Blanche event, Jamii invited audiences to participate in a sensory experience inspired by our award-winning documentary “At Heart”.
25 Esplanadians took the audience on a unique and interactive journey through David Crombie Park in our own version of Nuit Blanche. The hour-long shows lasted till midnight with a screening of "At Heart" at the end of each show. More than 100 community members participated in this unforgettable experience between the rehearsal and event night.
"I am me. I am heart" was co-directed by Ayelen Liberona and Isorine Marc and featured 25 Esplanadians.
Sat, Oct 5th
I am me.
I am home.
A one-of-a-kind event which explored the meaning of "home" through discussions, a photo exhibition, Indigenous drumming and spoken word performances.
On August 24th, "I am me. I am home. " featured a cast of amazing artists:
OPENING CEREMONY by Leonard Bernard. PHOTO EXHIBITION by Gillian Mapp. DRUMMING by Swift Current Singers. PANEL CONVERSATION with Sara Luey & Dynasti Williams. and moderated by Joel Zola. SPOKEN WORD by Ilham Suleman, Jennifer Alicia, Karizma, Maysam Abu-khreibeh. Host: Britta b.
More than 100 people attended the event.
Tour of our local theatres
in July, 17 youth were invited to visit our local theatres.
In partnership with Soulpepper, Sony Centre, CanStage, Young People's Theatre and Canadian Opera Company.
Choir in the park
Jamii and Soulpepper are bringing Waleed Abdulhamid to our park for one-of-a-kind choir experience!
Amazing multi-instrumentalist Waleed Abdulhamid, known for his striking vocals, innovative bass technique,
and his speed and precision on percussion, invited Esplanadians of
all ages and all artistic backgrounds to be part of our choir for three sessions in August. More than 60 people participated in this project.
Aug 14, 21 & 28, 2019
Basketball Court Mural
In 2014, Jamii spearheaded a mural painting on Crombie park basketball court wall after the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment paid to resurface the court, which had been destroyed during a police chase in 2013.
The mural, produced by Jamii, was created by 16 local youths under artistic guidance of Shalak Attack, Julian Periquet and Bruno Smoky. Curated by Isorine Marc.
Vibrant ideas — and vibrant paint — can go a long way toward strengthening and
healing a community.