JAMII Is AN Arts Organization
with an intention of both community building
& nurturing women in leadership.
Recipient of the 2020 Community Arts Award by the Toronto Arts Foundation.
Since 2011, Jamii (Swahili for "community") has enliven The Esplanade – one of downtown Toronto’s most unique & diverse communities. Through the production of over 130+ memorable arts-based experiences that recognize and celebrate all people and genders while nurturing female leadership, Jamii strengthens community and lifts spirits.
We acknowledge the land we are meeting on is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit.
Looks Like Us
David Crombie Park
April & May 2021
The 27 photos in this exhibit, documenting the human experience during this global pandemic, were taken by female photographers from around the world. The collection was curated by 13 young women from this neighbourhood.
This extraordinary exhibit, located across three sites, throughout the Esplanade, was made possible through a wonderful collaboration between Jamii and a global collective of more than 400 women, photographers, called The Journal.
The exhibit is featured as part of CONTACT, Photography Festival, and supported by the Government of Ontario.
Hoop Dancing workshops facilitated by Nimkii Osawamick
20 Esplanadians of all ages participated in a series of hoop dancing workshops, facilitated by Nimkii Owasamick (one household at the time). Workshop participants learnt more about this traditional and physical art form taught by Nimkii Osawamick.
Nimkii Osawamick is Odawa/Potawatami from Wiikwemkoong Unceded First Nation, representing the Wolf Clan. Nimkii is a world renown dance artist specializing in the Hoop dance, and is the founder and CEO of
Supported by Canadian Heritage.
"Looks Like Us"
A winter series of live art pop-up performances in
Feb & Mar 2021
In February and March 2021, Jamii presents a winter series of pop-up, mobile multidisciplinary performances, offering a wide range of free artistic experiences to all Esplanadians -
Coming to the community on March 18th, 19th, and 20th!
FACEBOOK LIVE #1:
"LuminUS" by Clay and Paper Theatre
Feb 25th, 26th and 27th
WATCH THE LIVE VIDEO HERE
FACEBOOK LIVE #2:
"MIX" co-produced with CORPUS and in partnership with Canadian Stage.
March 3rd to 6th - 7pm
WATCH THE LIVE PERFORMANCES HERE.
Collaborating with renowned performers, choreographers and directors Michael Caldwell and Susie Burpee, with dance/theatre company CORPUS and puppet company Clay and Paper Theatre, Jamii promises a delight of whimsical experiences to bring joy to audiences of all ages.
The Jamii Family
Welcome to DeeAnn & Jasmin!
We are pleased to introduce you to Jasmin Linton, our new Program Manager, and DeeAnn Sagar, our new Philanthropy Manager.
Jasmin is excited to put her experience in community arts, community building, event management and project coordination on full display as Jamii's Program Manager.
DeeAnn is proudly connected to our community as she spent 10 years of successfully fundraising for the Canadian Opera Company as well as at Tapestry Opera.
Together, we are taking Jamii to the next level to bring you and your loved ones the most wonderful artistic experiences, which we hope will contribute to making your home and community one of the most connected, caring, enriching, welcoming, and creative places to live and thrive!
In October, November and December, Jamii invited four guest artists (dancers/choreographers) to explore the potential of artistic transformation of the Kisanii Hub. Each artist was offered a one-week research period at the rehearsal hall of Canadian Stage.
We are thrilled that the richness of this process will be shared with the community with live performances in our park in 2021.
Guest artists: Ayelen LIberona, Lua Shayenne, Ashima Suri and Michael Caldwell.
Artistic Production: Isorine Marc
A project in partnership with Canadian Stage and supported by Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council.
WIND STORIES LIVE in WAWA & WOLFE ISLAND
In the Fall of 2019. Jamii visited Wawa and Wolfe Island, and invited people to create visual portraits of fellow neighbours, friends or family member.
In September 2020, Jamii came back to both communities to exhibit the collection of portraits. Along with this beautiful exhibit, Jamii invited amazing local artists to bring these portraits to life. Music, dance, storytelling, and drumming, a whirlwind of stories.
Wawa artists: Damian Binda, Isabella Imperatori, Joanne Poisson, Joanne Wilson, Mirinda Patterson and Samatha Stewart.
Artists performing in Wolfe Island: Teilhard Frost, Jason Mercer, Robert Douglas, Terri-Lynn Brennan, Sue Croweagle, Sukruti Tirupattur, Nancy Steel, and Lucas Sherwood.
A project supported by the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.
West African Dance performance
Aug 4th & 5th
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.
Watch the online premiere of the video here.
Attend our in-person outdoor event by booking your tickets here.
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
2019 At Heart, Citizens of The Esplanade
A docu-film co-created by more than 150 Esplanadians.
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)
Red Rhythm & Blues -
Live-streamed from Crombie Park
March 29th, 2021
Jamii was thrilled to present a Facebook livestream of Red Rhythm & Blues on March 29th. Red Rhythm & Blues is a beautiful coming together of two-spirit Anishnaabe~Métis singer, songwriter, composer, artist and activist Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone, and talented queer artist, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and activist Valentina Morelli. Together they craft soothing medicine music to heal the soul and free the spirit. Rooted in Indigenous storytelling, swelling harmonies expressed through the ‘time old’ overcoming of the blues, these two are a creative collaboration of magic.
Supported by Canadian Heritage.
Mobile performance in the streets of the Esplanade
March 18-20 2021
"A moment of calm, a meeting, an exchange, a smile... it's a journey through and into community, a brief encounter for connection and reflection. It's a conversation between our urban landscape and the natural environment.
Throughout this movement-based, traveling performance, GIIZHIG brings community together while physically apart, uplifting our spirits through our shared senses and with our collective imaginations."
“Giizhig” is the Anishinaabemowin - Ojibway word for “cedar”, and pronounced “gee zhig”
Director: Michael Caldwell
Artistic advisor: Isorine Marc
Created with and performed by: Aria Evans, Irma Villafuerte, Jane-Alison McKinney, Jim (Many Hats) Adams and Michael Caldwell
Poem by: Mahlikah Awe:ri
Produced and presented by: Jamii
In partnership with: Canadian Stage
Funded by: the Government of Ontario
A series of daily 7min dance solos. Live on FB from
Feb 1st to 7th 2021.
“SEVEN” was a series of dance solos featuring 7 professional dance artists tasked to explore and share how they have been shaken to the core through the past year.
As a mirror to their movements and words, we invited audiences to reflect on how their core had been shaken in the past months, as we are approaching a year, of life in a pandemic.
Thank you to all those who joined us on Facebook LIVE from 7pm to 7:07pm where we featured the amazing artists:
Feb 1: Michael Caldwell
Feb 2: Yvonne Ng
Feb 3: Jaz Fairy J
Feb 4: Irma Villafuerte
Feb 5: Lua Shayenne
Feb 6: Jane-Alison McKinney
Feb 7: Nicola Pantin
Check full document HERE.
At Jamii, we define our success by the legacy of qualitative memories we ignite for all “Esplanadians” - people of all ages who have taken part in the Jamii’s journey. By creating shared memories, we are creating stronger connections and bonds between people. In doing so, we create a sense of belonging, ownership and identity for the people engaged in the work we do in the community. This circles back to our mandate of enhancing social cohesion through the arts.
In 2020, we worked with 91 artists;
We organized 101 workshops;
We hosted 166 workshop participants;
We counted 2300 audience members;
We produced 34 public events,
And all of this, during a pandemic.
HISIA - Kisanii Hub mobile performance
Oct 3, 2020
Watch performance excerpts here.
Hisia was an invitation to 8 artists to explore the emotional roller coaster of the past six months, since lockdown was imposed. Fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, anticipation, joy and trust expressed through words, movement, imagery, sound, visual and experiential arts: a delight to the senses. A series of personal statements within the frame of a common journey.
Performers: Jaz Fairy J, Meryem Alaoui, Nicola Pantin, Sukruti Tirupattur and Yvonne Ng. Videographer: Ella Cooper. Spoken word artist: Paulina Anthony-O'Kieffe. Music: Evangelia Kambites.
A project in partnership with Canadian Stage and supported by Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council.
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.
Choir in the park
Jamii and Soulpepper are bringing Waleed Abdulhamid to our park for one-of-a-kind choir experience!
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.
"Allegra" at Market Lane Public School
March 30th to April 8th, 2021
Susie Burpee brought her colourful character 'Allegra Charleston' to the Esplanade for a series of pop-up performances, which surprised students of Market Lane Public School. These short performances took place in the mornings, engaging young audiences on their way to school with (physically distanced) live interactions. The intent of these performances was to touch the hearts of young people who haven’t had the opportunity yet to see live performances in their schools this year, and bring some laughter and magic to their day to brighten up their mood.
Performances of "Allegra" were followed by a series of 4 workshops facilitated by Diana Tso.
Supported by the Government of Ontario
A series of talks with Anishinaabe language specialist, Brian Outinen
March 22nd and 23rd 2021 - 1pm - on zoom
Brian Outinen, currently a Professor at Algoma University Instructing Anishinaabe Philosophy of Language and Culture. He is Ojibwe from Serpent River First Nation, Ontario and a member of the Hummingbird Clan. Brian is the author of Ancient Ojibwe Teachings, a facebook page dedicated to the education of Anishinaabe philosophy, world views, and of the original instruction of the language and structure of words.
Thank you to all those who joined us for one or both of these online sessions with Brian
on the subjects of language, sacred symbol writing, and petroglyphs.
Moving in the park
A series of 25-min movement sessions - one household at a time.
Jamii invited Esplanadians, one household at a time, to join our 25-min movement-based sessions in the park, encouraging our neighbours of all ages to keep physically as well a creatively active during the lockdown.
We had professional artists/dancer guiding participants through a series of creative movements to break up our day and keep everyone smiling.
Over 70 people joined "Moving in the park"! Singles, couples, families, roommates, etc. ONE HOUSEHOLD at the time.
This program was offered for FREE.
In partnership with
Joining forces to offer artistic experiences
to all Esplanadians
2020 is the year when Jamii and Canadian Stage, both based in The Esplanade & St Lawrence neighbourhood, made a powerful commitment to one another and to the community. They joined forces with the intention of growing capacity and leveraging resources, which is meant to increase the quality of the collective arts experience, for the Esplanade community.
Our first year of partnership, 2020, was extremely fruitful with a series of projects and events that brought people together (physically-distanced) despite a global pandemic. We are delighted to be pursuing this partnership into 2021.
Recipient of the 2020 Community Arts Award by the Toronto Arts Foundation
Jamii is about to celebrate its 10-year anniversary (2011-2021) and this award 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 award 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."
May the Jamii house continue shelter creativity.
Full release from Toronto Arts Foundation HERE.
Friday, Aug 21 - 6pm & 7pm
Esplanade & Princess St
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.
We are grateful for a beautiful audience to celebrate with us, and glad everyone kept their physical distances with one another.
The event was co-presented with
Canadian Stage and supported by
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)