The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Toronto



Teacher Clem Marshall helps kids with their courses at the UNIA Hall at 355 College Street. Photo by Ron Bull, 1973, Toronto Star. Toronto Public Library

The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Toronto

Wednesday, 16 February, 2022 at 7 pm on Zoom
"The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was the first global Black nationalist organization with a chapter in Canada, and played a crucial role in fostering unity and pride among Canadians of African descent. The UNIA established an organizational framework within which Black Canadians could develop their talents and assume positions of leadership at a time when they were denied these opportunities elsewhere. Liberty Halls, whether owned or rented by the UNIA, were centres for Black political, social, and cultural activity when Black Canadians had little access to spaces that made community gatherings possible. The organization fostered a strong West Indian-Canadian leadership, further binding the members of this motivated ethnic group to each other and to a national and international network of proud Black activists.

"The UNIA was founded in Jamaica in 1914 by Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Within less than a decade, it evolved to become the central organ of the largest global Black nationalist movement in history, with over 1,000 chapters in 40 countries. In June 1919, the first Canadian division of the UNIA opened in Montréal, followed closely by one in Toronto in December of the same year. By 1922, there were 32 chapters of the UNIA in Canada, ranging geographically from Sidney, Nova Scotia, to Victoria, British Columbia. One quarter of Black Canadians, or close to 5,000 people, are believed to have been members of the UNIA at its peak in the early 1920s. After Marcus Garvey’s death in 1940, activity and membership went into decline. The Toronto division closed in 1982, but the Montréal division continues to offer services today."

Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey, McGill University

Clem Marshall, Educator and Community Builder
And Special Guests

“Don’t let anybody tell you
that you are made to stay down”
Marcus Garvey


The United Negro Improvement Association in Toronto
Time: Wednesday, 16 February, 2022 at 7:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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Meeting ID: Meeting ID: 822 8044 9108 • Passcode: 584999

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