Donna Marie Paris is a multi-generational African Canadian, born and raised in Nova Scotia but has called Toronto home for the past 30 years.
Paris is one of three African Canadian women who started the collective “In The Black Canada.” Through the collective, they have produced a series of videos entitled In The Black: Canada - The Web Chronicles (2015) in which African Canadians speak about their experiences of being Black in Canada. Their video installation The Windsor Project (2017) chronicles the history and experiences of African Canadians growing and living in Windsor Ontario and the variety of journeys it took for them and their ancestors to arrive there. This is now part of the permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Windsor.
Donna co-produced a project titled I Am Black History. She was able to travel to Eastern and Central Canada in 2019 to collect stories from Black people about their experiences of being Black in Canada. She joined forces with photographer David Ofori Zapparoli who took portraits of the interview subjects.
With a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts in 2020, Donna continued the project in the form of a podcast I Am Black History. Her recordings now include people from Eastern Canada as well as Quebec and Western Canada.
Paris believes that it’s important to know our history—who came before and what it cost them. She knows that in order for us to move forward in our lives we need to tell our stories. It’s only in going back in our history that we can fully access our present self.