Friday 24 March 2023

Black Out Loud, a grassroots effort 

by Nnaemeka Ali

Black Out Loud was an evening to explore the cultural heritage of Ottawa-Gatineau’s Afro community through involvement, food, fashion and artwork to appreciate and benefit from the wealth of the city.   

Black Out Loud – photography by Sam Image 

The evening was organized by Diana Official, president of the Saint Paul University student body, Mimie a well-known philanthropist who acted as the event coordinator, and a renowned rapper Kalix Breezy who served as program coordinator for the open mic along with a wonderful group of volunteers.   

Black Out Loud Team – photography by Sam Image 

Supported by many nonprofit organizations such as the Atelier d’innovation sociale Mauril Bélanger, while advised against continuing the project, was repeatedly told that “Black History Month is gone.” and despite several partners backing out, the project manager stood her ground and we continued to put together this project for the greater good of the community. That is why the three worked hard together to realize this project, by pursuing the idea of organizing a community outreach event with the collective efforts of members of the community. As a result, the three of them worked hand in hand towards the realization of an impactful initiative welcoming individuals from all backgrounds. 

On March 24, 2023, the city’s event – Black Out Loud was an opportunity not only to discuss and celebrate the city’s vibrant diversity within the black diaspora (African, Black and Caribbean community), but to connect with members of the community of different backgrounds, spiritualities, and gender.   

The evening began with a screening of Cal Best on African-Canadian identity produced by Workers’ History Museum. A panel discussion with Kalix Breez, Mahisha Stevens and the Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition immediately followed.  

A Tribute to Cal Best, Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition – photography by Sam Image 

A conversation about cultural issues such as self-identity and civic engagement, black entrepreneurship followed.  

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Representative, Ottawa Black Coalition Diaspora – photography by Sam Image 

Additional outstanding performances preceded such as Charifa Labarang a clothing designer and owner of Labarang from Ottawa, staged her first interactive fashion show, “Strength Within”. 

Fashion Designer, Charifa Labarang – photography by Sam Image 

To say the least, the evening ended with a bang!  

With a long track record in the music industry and a passion for community outreach, Kalix helped coordinate the open mic night. Starring the following emergent artists from Ottawa-Gatineau, leaving the audience in awe. 

 A talented artist Friday Skye 

Singer, Friday Skye – photography by Sam Image 

A talented saxophone player named, Adebayo Jacobs   

 Saxophonist, Jacobs – photography by Sam Image 

An afro-beat singer from Malawi, Taapz  

Singer, Taapz – photography by Sam Image 

A popular rapper Nwar, the Canadian Kendrick Lamar 

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 Rapper, Nwar – photography by Sam Image 

An R&B singer from Tokoni 

Tokoni, R&B singer – photography by Sam Image 

A poem recited by Melissa Houinsou 

Melissa Houinsou, Poet – Photography by Sam Image 

In partnership with Black-owned and operated arts groups such as Ottawa Black Festival Film, as well as local artist such as the founder Sandra of The Moving Gallery and Francessca, the owner of Koukatelier, they were instrumental in making the evening a great success. Lastly, the project is the result of a community effort.  

The Moving Gallery X Koukatelier – Photography by SamImage 


Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I

Nnaemeka Ali is a Nigerian-born missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate. After 7 years of missionary work in the Innu communities of the North Shore of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, he is now a Master’s student at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. His research interests include issues of post-colonial identity and spirituality of colonized nations.
Nnaemeka is exploring the link between indigenous spirituality and decolonial theology. Her current research focuses on decolonizing missional pedagogy through indigenous epistemological approaches. His preferred methods are narrative and storytelling. In his spare time, he blogs and takes photos and videos.