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Portrait of Harriet Tubman, 1870s. Image by Harvey Lindsley. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Andria "Ekua" Walcott at the Harriet Tubman Kwanzaa Celebration, December 27, 2015. Image by Tom Sandler.

Peace March along Warden Avenue. June 2015. Image by William Meijer.

Portrait of Ekua Walcott, 2022. Image by Autumn Beals.

  • Ekua Walcott

    Working With Youth

    While completing her undergraduate degree in social work, Walcott began working with the Harriet Tubman Community Organization (HTCO) in North York. Opened in 1972, the HTCO is a non-profit youth centre dedicated to helping Black youth in Canada develop a sense of belonging and connection to their heritage and community.

    After many years of working with the HTCO, Walcott became the Executive Director of the organization in 2006, a role she held for over eleven years.

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  • Ekua Walcott

    The HTCO

    Ekua Walcott was a deeply motivated community leader who made sure that the HTCO was responsive to the changing and complex needs of the Black community. Programming at the HTCO included heritage counselling for Black youth, ongoing support for employment or education, roundtable community events between teens and elders, leadership programs focused on civic engagement and more.

    Ekua Walcott helped to launch HTCO’s annual Matanga Festival – taken from the Swahili word for mourning. As a community healing gathering, the festival supported health, wellbeing, and healing for the entire African diaspora. The event encouraged the exploration of a range of African healing modalities and worked to strengthen the social fabric of the community.


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  • Ekua Walcott

    Building Community

    In her work with the HTCO, Walcott felt it was important that youth felt heard, received counselling for their trauma, and had a welcoming space in their community that celebrated their culture and heritage. She spoke often on the continued presence of anti-Black discrimination, both in Canada and throughout the world. Walcott also encouraged activism, advocacy, and self-realization for all in the Black community:  “I think you have to take your liberation. I think you have to define it for yourself and you have to go grab it wherever you can because it’s never really ever been given.”

    On February 26, 2017, Ekua Walcott passed away after a brief illness. Following her death, the Matanga Festival was renamed Ekua Day in honour of her legacy.

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  • Ekua Walcott

    The Teacher and Protector

    Autumn Beals’ portrait of Ekua Walcott for BSAM Canada’s “Unveiling Heroes of the Block” project, entitled “The Teacher and Protector,” shows Walcott surrounded by vines, plants and flowers. Beals used nature to represent Walcott’s work as the Executive Director of the Harriet Tubman Community Organization, particularly how it fostered growth and development within the Black community.

    Within the portrait, light blue delphiniums represent the youth she worked with; the bouvardia double flowers to represent the encouragement and enthusiasm she fostered through community engagement; and the pink hyacinth to represent her playful spirit. Beals also included African floral motifs to represent Walcott’s love and interest for African culture.

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