How Mahogany Culture Started

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

Sitting in my room on the 20th floor of a condominium building in downtown Toronto I thought to myself how can I feel more at 'home' in this city, miles away from my family and dogs? It was 2016 and I was about to graduate and needed to find a way to be happier while living in Toronto as I would be staying there for at least three more years.

I grew up on the island of Barbados and moved to Toronto in 2012 to study Interior Design. With a background in Architecture and Interior Design I have always been interested in spaces and how it affects people socially. Walking through the streets of Toronto I felt a social disconnect. It felt cold literally and figuratively. Back home if I don't speak to a stranger on the street I'm rude and in Toronto if I do speak to a stranger I'm crazy. This caused me to feel alone. That feeling of security and happiness and warmth that I felt when home in Barbados didn't exist in Toronto and I felt, and still sometimes feel empty.

I tried to connect with my Culture through a group at school but I found a difference in the way the members experienced and expressed their Caribbean Culture. I then turned to the community through some existing Barbados Organizations but once again I found a disconnect with the age group and what was established for Caribbean People. After not finding what I needed I created Mahogany Culture.

Moving past the typical nuances such as dance hall music and roti.

I created this collective in order to retain Caribbean culture and establish what it looks like in a modern context. Mahogany Culture delves further into what the culture is, moving past the typical nuances such as dance hall music, roti and Rihanna - though no complaints here. In this collective there is a focus on knowledge of history, culture and self.

We promote existing services for those in the community. There is also a focus on having events bringing people together and sharing knowledge, arts, stories and experiences of the different aspects of Caribbean culture in an innovative way. Together let's create a home for Caribbean culture in metropolitan cities!

- Written by Founder Zoe Osborne

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