The Crossings Project

Doors at 6:30 PM
Event at 7:00 PM, beginning at Silence, 46 Essex Street, Guelph

Tickets $25 available at Eventbrite.

Silence gratefully acknowledges funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Guelph Community Foundation’s Musagetes Fund and the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.

The Crossing Project is a collaboration between Silence, the Guelph Black Heritage Society and the Art Gallery of Guelph. The event is a musical and community-oriented acknowledgement of the millions of Africans who were abducted and enslaved during the trans-Atlantic slave trade (approximately 1526-1867). Through perseverance and courage, many families and individuals moved up the Underground Railroad and settled in the Guelph area.

The event includes a transformative journey towards a common knowledge about the Guelph community and its historical roots, featuring the musical talents of Andrew Craig and Tabby Johnson; a creative multimedia exhibition by the Art Gallery of Guelph and the Guelph Black Heritage Society addressing the traces, absences and erasures of slavery in the heart of Guelph; and a travelling street party and parade led by the Toronto Junkanoo All Stars.

Beginning at 7pm at Silence, there will be a concert by the talented musician Andrew Craig and renowned singer and actress Tabby Johnson, and creative multimedia exhibition by the Art Gallery of Guelph and Guelph Black Heritage Society. Engaging with ideas of artifact and archive, Kerry-Ann Cornwall and Andrew Hunter (AGG Senior Curator) weave together family histories, urban geography and layers of memory spanning time and place to visually address the traces, absences and erasures of slavery in the heart of Guelph. The music at this site will explore the middle passage and what occurred after people arrived in the Americas.

Kerry-Ann, a researcher with the AGG, says: “Black history in Guelph has not been given due diligence, despite the fact that Guelph’s population in the late 1800s was very diverse. With every book and every archive, we find out about the music they enjoyed, the instruments they played, and their roles in the church and in their community. History is forged in the streets we walk and the buildings we use”.

From 8 – 9pm we are closing the street to take the event outdoors with a traveling street party and parade! Led by the Toronto Junkanoo All Stars with music from the Bahamas, we will dance and celebrate up and down this historic road between Silence and Heritage Hall. Come prepared to parade, dance, eat and party along with them, and enjoy a rich spectacle for the ears and eyes!

The culminating events at Heritage Hall, home of the Guelph Black Heritage Society, will run from 9 – 10pm. This building, originally the British Methodist Episcopal Church, was built in 1880 by those arriving in the region by the underground railroad. At Heritage Hall, there will be food, a continuance of the multimedia exhibition, and a culmination of the musical journey towards a common knowledge and confluence of cultures.

Tabby Johnson says: “With one changing voice to encourage us, we answer to the call. In the depths of where you are right that moment lies the roots of your vibrational ancestor. When you feel and hear the voice beside you the voice across the room from you and you sense it’s not loudness, it’s the vibrations of unison playing with each other creating a certain kind of harmony. That’s call and response.”

Come join us as we celebrate those individuals who persevered and made Guelph what it is today.