ROSEMARY SADLIER FREEDOM AWARD
Named for Canadian educator, scholar and activist and a key figure in making Black History Month and Emancipation Day nationally recognized, the Rosemary Sadlier Freedom Fighter Award annually honours a community changemaker for their contributions to advancing pluralism and equity.
Each year a chosen member from the community accepts the distinction of the Rosemary Sadlier Award for their life’s work. This year’s presentation will reveal our newly designed award with live music accompaniment as the recipient accepts the honour.
The Rosemary Sadlier Award is sponsored by Roseneath Theatre.
Rosemary Sadlier is award-winning author, advocate, consultant and speaker who has dedicated her life’s work to elevating and celebrating Black History in Canada. She played an instrumental role in Black History Month and Emancipation Day being recognized in Canada.
In the early 1990s, Sadlier, then President of the Ontario Black History Society, petitioned the City of Toronto to secure an annual Black History Month proclamation. At the same time, she petitioned provinces across Canada — including Ontario, which officially recognized Black History Month in 1993. In 1995, she saw August 1st proclaimed as Emancipation Day in Toronto. In 2008, Emancipation Day also became official in Ontario with her help.
Sadlier led the Ontario Black History Society for 22 years. As an educator, she both developed and contributed to African Canadian curriculum and national exhibits, and was an appointed member of the College of Early Childhood Educators. As an author, Sadlier has written a total of 7 books on African Canadian history, including The Kids Book of Black Canadian History, and books on Harriet Tubman and Mary Ann Shadd.
In her role as a consultant, Sadlier contributed to diversity and inclusion projects. Recently, she was appointed Equality Lead for the Americas and the Caribbean with the Royal Commonwealth Society. Dedicated to social justice, she uses the frame of Black History to educate and empower others.
Motion is a playwright, screenwriter, poet and emcee, fusing word, sound and drama for the stage and screen. A Canadian Film Centre alumnus, she is currently a writer and Executive Story Editor on CBC’s hit drama series, Coroner (Back Alley/Muse). She is also developing a series with production companies Darius Films and Sphere Media. Motion is the co-writer of Akilla’s Escape (Canesugar Films), a feature film with director Charles Officer, to be released in 2020, and the writer of ReelWorld Award-winning short film A Man’s Story (Bravofact) which has screened in film festivals in London, Ghana, Belgium, Zanzibar and Toronto.
Her most recent production for the stage is Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape with DJ L’Oqenz (dir. Mumbi Tindyebwa). Premiering to critical acclaim, it has been remounted at Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre and Obsidian Theatre, CINARS in Montreal, and the groundbreaking Chale Wote Festival in Ghana. Her other works include Aneemah’s Spot (Summerworks), Loveleigh’s Logue (50in50/Billie Holiday Theatre, NYC), and the Dora-nominated co-creation Nightmare Dream (IFT Theatre/Obsidian Theatre). She is also published in her two poetry collections Motion in Poetry and 40 Dayz (Women’s Press), as well as Everything Remains Raw (GooseLane), and The Black Notes (Insomniac Press).
Jully Black is a true Canadian Icon. Named as one of ‘The 25 Greatest Canadian Singers Ever’ (CBC Music), she has been dubbed ‘Canada’s Queen of R&B Soul’. As a platinum-selling recording artist, her music career has yielded multiple singles reaching the Top 10 Pop, R&B, and Dance music charts. She has taken home Juno and Gemini Awards, earned innumerable industry accolades, and was hand-selected to sing for the Queen of England. With her powerhouse vocals, hilarious personality, and love of people, Jully Black truly is every woman. Her passion for philanthropy has taken her from the shantytowns of Bangladesh to the villages of South Africa and all across Canada. As a woman of faith, she champions important causes and uses her career as a platform to celebrate and inspire the greatness that lies within each of us.
As a songwriter, Jully has written music that has touched the hearts of her fans and collaborated with industry heavyweights such as Sean Paul, Destiny’s Child, among many others. She has shared the stage with superstars such as The Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West, Celine Dion, Elton John and Etta James, to name a few.
Jully is a major presence in the Canadian media and entertainment industry. As former host and correspondent for CTV’s etalk, Jully was chosen to interview global megastars such as Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey, and former president Bill Clinton. She has also appeared in films, television and theatre. With purpose-driven ideals and boundless spiritual fortitude, she continues to refine and reinvent her artistry. A phenom in Canadian entertainment, lifestyle, and public speaking arenas, she is co-founder and keynote speaker for the renowned “Empowered In My Skin’ women’s empowerment summits, a Notable.ca award recipient, a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ+ communities and a WE Day ambassador.
DESIGN OF THE AWARD
Oluseye is a Nigerian-Canadian artist. His work explores the magnitude and polyvocality of Blackness and the ways in which it moves across space, place, and time, shaping and shifting the world. Centering Yoruba cultural references in an homage to his heritage, he bends the ancestral with the contemporary and rejects the binary distinction between the traditional and the modern; the physical and the spiritual; the past and the future; what is new and what is old. Imbuing the everyday with the mythic, his work reinforces African rituals and philosophies as living, complex, and valid traditions of Black consciousness.