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Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association to launch Black-led community centre

Centre a milestone as association works to dismantle longstanding anti-Black racism structures, chair says
Aug. 27, 2021
Lisa Queen

Newmarket will soon have a Black-led community centre, Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association (NAACA) chair Jerisha Grant-Hall announced.

On Sept. 1, NAACA will officially take possession of the historic Hollingshead House at 449 Eagle St., with the opening of the centre to be unveiled at a later date.

The building heralds a milestone for the association as it works to dismantle longstanding and pervasive anti-Black racism structures, Grant-Hall said.

“I am very excited to begin this next step in NAACA’s evolution,” she said.

“We could not be more thrilled. NACCA will now have a much-needed space, which will be an important hub for our diverse Black community. The space will house our offices, a gathering place, a library and much-needed Black-centred programming. The centre will also act as a meeting space for residents and friends to enjoy, engage in conversation, forge new friendships and strengthen their sense of belonging in the community.”

The Hollingshead House, which formerly housed Habitat for Humanity, is owned by the town and will be leased to NAACA.

The association “truly values” long-standing support from Mayor John Taylor and the town, Grant-Hall said.

Taylor said the town is proud to support the growing association and said the community centre’s location will give it access to many downtown services.

“I am very pleased to support NAACA in their new location and their journey to support the Black community locally and to bring awareness to the broader Newmarket community,” he said.

“NAACA is an emerging leader in dismantling anti-Black racism and providing culturally relevant services to community members here in Newmarket, Aurora and East Gwillimbury. I want to personally thank Jerisha and NAACA for the work they have done to lead us all in our efforts to become a more inclusive Newmarket.”

The association will hold an upcoming fundraiser, with details to be released later.

Already, the community is beginning to help.

The Indigo Love of Reading Foundation is assisting with identity-affirming books as well as a youth-led program for young members.

Blue Ant Media had donated furnishings for the space, although NACCA has a wish list of other needed items, which includes stacking chairs, shelving and storage cabinets.