“Stay safe.” We say it so often and without thinking. It’s even starting to lose its meaning.
These words have a very different meaning to Black and Indigenous peoples, groups who are subject to greater precarity, particularly when intersecting with gender, class, and other forms of systemic discrimination.
In the wake of recent events, including the widespread outpourings of solidarity against anti-black racism in North America, and specifically in Canada, the killings of 8 indigenous persons by police since just this April — we are taking stock and acknowledge the systemic and institutional barriers we play a part in.
Simply put, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF)—whose leadership currently lacks Black or Indigenous representation —can do better.
We exist to support creators of comic works in their broad and diverse voices in order to promote the medium of comics as a legitimate medium of literary and artistic worth. We believe we have a role to play in supporting diversity in our field and are making a commitment to do so, with intention.
We will begin with a commitment to learning by ensuring our staff and volunteers and the board receive resources and materials to help facilitate their understanding of issues raised by BIPOC communities, with attention to intersectional identities, including but not limited to QTBIPOC identified individuals. We are also exploring new ways of applying an anti-racist lens in building our community, including our staff and volunteers, with the understanding that accounting for anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism must be at the forefront.
We do not see this as a one-time project, but a life-long one that will inform the organization we aspire to be going forward. We look forward to working with the larger comics industry, and community to do so and will provide updates as we develop our plans.
— Christopher Butcher, Miles Baker + The TCAF Board (Coralie D’Souza, Gary Sherman, Kawai Shen, Khris Cuthbertson, Peter Birkemoe)