Sunday 29 December 2019

Margaret Atwood and the RBC Foundation to unveil 2020 Shortlist Wed Jan 8 at King Eddie

RBC Taylor Prize will announce 2020 shortlist Wednesday January 8

The trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation request the media to attend a conference to announce the finalists for the final 2020 RBC Taylor Prize. The 30-minute press conference will take place Wednesday, January 8, 2020 10 a.m. sharp in the Consort Bar (Main Level) of The Omni King Edward Hotel, 37 King Street East Toronto, ON M5C 1E9.
There will be five finalists on this year's shortlist, which the jury will select from the 12 longlisted books announced in early December 2019.
Who: Noreen Taylor, chair of the Charles Taylor Foundation and Prize founder. Presenting Sponsor Vijay Parmar, president of RBC PH&N Investment Counsel, RBC Taylor Prize 2020 Juror Margaret Atwood
What: RBC Taylor Prize Shortlist Announcement Event
Why: To hear the names of the shortlist authors/books and celebrate all 12 books on the RBC Taylor Prize longlist of Canadian Literary Nonfiction works.
When: Wednesday, January 08, 2020 at 10:00 am sharp
Where: The Omni King Edward Hotel, Main Level Consort Bar, 37 King Street East, downtown Toronto
The longlist Books for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize are:
Rush to Danger: Medics in the Line of Fire by Ted Barris, published by Harper Collins Canada
Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson by Mark Bourrie, published by Biblioasis
The Grandmaster: Magnus Carlsen and the Match That Made Chess Great Again by Brin-Jonathan Butler, published by Simon & Schuster
Had it Coming: What's Fair in the Age of #MeToo by Robyn Doolittle, published by Allen Lane
We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib, published by Viking Canada
In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience by Helen Knott, published by University of Regina Press
Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by Jessica McDiarmid, published by Doubleday Canada
The Regency Years: During Which Jane Austen Writes, Napoleon Fights, Byron Makes Love and Britain Becomes Modern by Robert Morrison, published by W.W. Norton
Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian Carp Crisis by Andrew Reeves, published by ECW Press
The Mongolian Chronicles: A Story of Eagles, Demons and Empires by Allen Smutylo, published by Goose Lane Editions
The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions that Shape Our World by Ziya Tong, published by Allen Lane
The Mosquito: A Human History of our Deadliest Predator by Timothy C. Winegard, published by Allen Lane
About The RBC Taylor Prize:
2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the RBC Taylor Prize, which commemorates Charles Taylor's pursuit of excellence in the field of literary non-fiction. Awarded to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception, the Prize consists of $5,000 for each finalist, and a further $25,000 for the winner. All authors are presented with a custom leather-bound version of their shortlisted book at the awards ceremony.
The trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation are Vijay Parmar, David Staines, Edward Taylor, Nadina Taylor, and Noreen Taylor. The Manager is Sheila Kay. The jurors for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize are: Margaret Atwood, Coral Ann Howells and Peter Theroux.
For further information: For further information: Media contact: Stephen Weir & Associates, Stephen Weir: 416-489-5868 | cell: 416-801-3101 |, @sweirsweir

Wednesday 11 December 2019



 by Stephen Weir
Two years ago Lego artist Ekow Nimako built a statue of a girl on top of a galloping black unicorn.  The 8ft by 6ft sculpture, made with over 80,000 black Lego bricks, became the symbol of Scarborough at Toronto’s annual all-night Nuit Blanc festival.

Nimako collaborated with filmmaker Director X, to create the art piece they dubbed Cavalier Noir. The statue stood as a symbol of a bold and fearless future for the hood.
Turns out the Lego artist had just begun to think big and to think black.  Earlier this fall the Montreal born Scarborough raised Ghanaian-Canadian was at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum to see the opening of his exhibition Building Black: Civilizations.

Nimako channels Africa’s remarkable history and its powerful future into an alternate universe sculpture. It is an art piece where the ruined medieval Mauritania city of Kumbi Saleh has risen from the rubble to once again be the capital of the Ghana Empire. 

This painstakingly made monumental 30-square-foot centrepiece evokes a utopian metropolis. The Lego city is surrounded by smaller sculptures of wild animals, camels, warriors and medieval castles scenes built with over 100,000 black Lego pieces.

It almost looks like the set in the opening of the Game of Thrones TV show - Kumbi Saleh links medieval Africa’s advanced civilizations with a vision of the continent’s powerful future.

One can’t help but be in awe what Ekow Nimako can do with simple pieces of Lego. He presents highly detailed small-scale pieces to make large images of Africa 1000 years ago, somehow forging a vision of the continent 1000 years into the future.

It is not surprising that people say Huh a log while touring the gallery. And, it is not uncommon for visitors to wonder why it is all made with Lego pieces and why is it all black?

“Lego is not something you associate with Blackness or Black culture in any regard. Right?” said Nimako. “The standard yellow Lego pieces where they started still is almost synonymous for white. For me, well for me when I am going to make my art it is definitely going to be Black.”

Building Black: Civilizations fills a gallery within the Aga Khan Museum. It was commissioned by the Toronto museum to compliment their nearby Afrocentric exhibition Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time.

The Aga Khan Museum has partnered with African nations and members of the African diaspora to bring the groundbreaking show to Toronto.

Caravans is both history and art.  There are recently unearthed archaeological fragments on display. There are also items on loan from national collections in Mali, Nigeria, and Morocco. Both the Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture and Exchange Across Medieval Saharan Africa and Building Black: Civilizations exhibitions will be on display until February 23rd 2020. The Aga Khan Museum is located at 77 Wynford
Drive. Wynford Drive is located one light north of Eglinton off Don Mills Road.

Sunday 8 December 2019

Deborah Dundas to host The RBC Taylor Prize's final roundtable event

Final roundtable event before the conclusion of the RBC Taylor Prize For Literary Nonfiction's 20-year history

The RBC Taylor Prize and the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) are delighted to present the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize Finalists in Conversation on Thursday, February 27 at 7:30pm at Harbourfront Centre. The esteemed authors, representing Canada's leading works of literary non-fiction from 2019, will take part in a roundtable discussion, moderated by Deborah Dundas (Books Editor, Toronto Star), followed by an audience Q&A. The 2020 RBC Taylor Prize finalists will be announced on January 8, 2020.
The RBC Taylor Prize and TIFA are proud to collaborate on this annual event one last time in the lead up to the March 2 winner announcement of the final RBC Taylor Prize, which after 20 years will reach its conclusion in 2020. The event will celebrate the best achievements in literary non-fiction from 2019, through lively discussion with The Prize's five finalists.

The event is free to attend, however, pre-registration is encouraged at

About the RBC Taylor Prize

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the RBC Taylor Prize, which commemorates Charles Taylor's pursuit of excellence in the field of literary non-fiction. Awarded to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception, the Prize consists of $5,000 for each finalist, and a further $25,000 for the winner.

About the Toronto International Festival of Authors

The Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) is Canada's largest and longest-running festival of words and ideas. Since 1974, it has hosted over 9,000 authors from more than 100 countries, including 22 Nobel Laureates. TIFA connects curious readers of every kind with leading authors and provides forums to showcase Canadian talent to the world. TIFA presents events and programmes all year round and will celebrate the 41st edition of the Festival October 22 – November 1, 2020.
The RBC Taylor Prize Our thanks Cision Canada (CNW Group) for their long time sponsorship of the Prize.

For further information: MEDIA CONTACTS: Stephen Weir & Associates, Stephen Weir: 416-489-5868 | cell: 416-801-3101 |; Amy Dennis, Head of Marketing, 416-973-4395 |
Organization Profile

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Thursday book launch involves Mom, Pop and Daughter. Cynthia Reyes' Twigs in My Hair

TWIGS IN MY HAIR - It’s a Family Affair

Award-winning journalist and author Cynthia Reyes launches her new memoir Twigs in My Hair and the latest addition to her bestselling series of children’s book Myrtle Makes a New Friend.
The launch takes place THURSDAY October 10, at 6 p.m. at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre at 770 Bathurst Street. Ms. Reyes will be joined by co-author Lauren Reyes-Grange and Twigs in My Hair photographer Hamlin Grange.
This unusual book launch brings together a family of outstanding writers and storytellers. Cynthia and Hamlin are former award-winning journalists. Their daughter Lauren is the co-author of Myrtle Makes a New Friend, the third book in the children’s series. Twigs in My Hair Myrtle Makes a New Friend, is Cynthia’s third memoir. Her previous two memoirs are critically acclaimed bestsellers. This time she explores her lifelong passion for gardens and nature and the surprising relationships and events that ensue. Twigs is a humorous and profoundly personal story and a unique twist of the memoir genre which is complemented by photographs by Hamlin.
The Myrtle story, which teaches children about friendship and encourages them to “love their shell”, was written 28 years ago but the first book was published in 2017 to delight of children and parents around the world. The Myrtle character was written by Cynthia for her nearly 5-year-old daughter Lauren.
In Twigs, readers will meet a variety of interesting creatures, both animal and human, some competing for gardening produce or gardening glory. Cynthia’s love for growing things swings from reverence to mania. But there is also a deeply emotional side to this story about what happens when a passionate gardener can no longer do what she loves.
Itah Sadu and Miguel San Vincente, owners of A Different Booklist, will host the event, which will include readings and a book signing.

About the Authors:

Cynthia Reyes is the author of the bestselling books A Good Home, An Honest House and newly released, Twigs in My Hair. In addition, her previous children’s illustrated Myrtle the Purple Turtle books have been bestsellers and have received excellent reviews. Cynthia is a former journalist, producer-director and executive producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She won national and international awards and acclaim for her work, including The Children’s Broadcast Institute Award, The Trailblazer Award and The Crystal Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film and Television. In 2016, her book, An Honest House, won the Diamond Award for book of the year, while the country of her birth, Jamaica, inducted Cynthia into the Order of Distinction, Commander Rank, in recognition of her work in Canadian and international journalism.
Lauren Reyes-Grange learned about Myrtle the Purple Turtle from her mother who told her stories when she was a child. Soon to be a mother herself, Lauren has begun reading the Myrtle books to her unborn daughter. She has collaborated with Cynthia on the second and third books in the Myrtle series and will continue to make up Myrtle stores for her daughter and all the children who love and embrace the Myrtle books around the world. Lauren is a Social Media Strategist and blogger in Toronto.
Hamlin Grange is a former journalist and broadcaster. His photographs appear in Twigs in My Hair. Over a number of years, Hamlin has been both the gardener and the photographer of the gardens we meet in the book. When not gardening, Hamlin is a diversity and inclusion strategist. He has worked with national and international clients in a wide range of sectors including film, theatre, television, post-secondary institutions, social services, government agencies and law enforcement.

For more information about either book, please visit or contact MaryAnn Isbister at 416-932-8284.

Monday 7 October 2019

The Late George Paginton to get the solo show he has always deserved. Brampton. October 10

The Big Show

Brampton, ON (October 4, 2019) Explore the vast beauty of Canada through the art of one of Ontario’s rediscovered painters, George Paginton – a contemporary of the Group of Seven. This large-scale retrospective exhibition kicks-off its cross Canada tour at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA) in historic downtown Brampton on October 10. The show runs to February 9, 2020 with interactive programming throughout and accompanied by a beautiful hard cover publication about the artist available for purchase in the PAMA store for $40. 

Media Preview Opportunities:
  1. Book an appointment Wednesday, Oct. 9 (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) to have an exclusive Curator walk-through.
  2. Or, be our guest for the VIP (invitation only) Opening Reception on Thursday, Oct. 10 from 7 – 9 p.m. Contact Erin Fernandes at or call 416-312-3425.
George Paginton, a lesser known Canadian landscape painter who was a peer of members of the Group of Seven, was determined to document the wonder of nature from coast-to-coast. A prolific yet very private artist, Paginton created over 1,500 oil paintings, the majority of which were never exhibited or sold commercially. George Paginton: Painting a Nation marks the introduction of his work which spanned over 70 years. 
“The opportunity to create new Canadian art history is thrilling,” notes PAMA Senior Curator of Art Darrin Martens. 
“Paginton pursued his private passion of capturing the essence of the Canadian landscape with a sense of purpose,” says co-curator Sharona Adamowicz-Clements.
 Inline image
Left: George Paginton, Canadian (1901-1988), Caledon, Ontario, 1940, Oil on canvas board, 21.75 x 27 cm @Collection of Tony Paginton and Roswita Busskamp, 2018. Right: George Paginton, Canadian (1901- 1988), Self portrait, c. 1974, Oil on canvas board, 50.75 x 40.5 cm, @Collection of Tony Paginton and Roswita Busskamp, 2018.

The exhibition and publication are supported by the 
Government of Canada Museums Assistance Program with special thanks to our exhibit sponsors.

“What a pleasure to represent Paginton’s work at and to work with the artist’s family and such enthusiastic and knowledgeable curators at PAMA,” says Kelly Juhasz, owner of Wall Fiction. “Supporting this exhibition helps fill gaps in Canadian art history and highlights the beauty of a Canadian place and moment captured through plein air art.
Programming Highlights
❖ Curator Talk: Sunday, October 27, 2019 | 2 p.m.❖ Seniors Studio: Monday, November 4 | 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.❖ Family Sunday FUNday: Sunday, November 17 | 1 – 4 p.m.❖ PAMA Paints, Landscape Workshop: Thursday, December 5, 2019 | 6:30 p.m. ❖ Panel Discussion: Thursday, February 6, 2020 | 7 p.m.
PAMA is a place to explore and learn about Peel Region’s culture and heritage, as well as use conversation, questions and stories to help make new and fascinating connections to the surrounding community. Throughout the year, PAMA offers a variety of workshops and programs for all ages, families and adults. With so many different programs to choose from, PAMA has something for everyone. Operated by the Region of Peel, PAMA is located at 9 Wellington Street, East in Brampton. Visit to learn more.
Media Contact:
Erin Fernandes
Marketing Coordinator PAMA
D: 905-791-4055, ext. 7596 M: 416-312-3425

Issued on behalf of PAMA by:
Stephen Weir & Associates | 
109 Castlefield Avenue, Toronto, ON
Tel: 416-489-5868 | cell: 416-801-3101 twitter: sweirsweir 

Monday 26 August 2019

Press Conference about social inclusion for Black Canadians. Tuesday 2pm Bathurst south of Bloor

Parliamentary Secretary Vaughan will make an announcement in the Different Book List Tuesday at 2pm on supporting diversity across Canada
Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Member of Parliament for Spadina–Fort York, will make an announcement about how the Government of Canada is advancing diversity and taking positive action to ensure social inclusion for Black Canadians.
The announcement is being made on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
A photo opportunity and media availability will follow the announcement.
Please note that all details are subject to change. All times are local.
DATE: Tuesday, August 27, 2019
TIME: 2:00 p.m.
PLACE A Different Booklist
779 Bathurst Street
Toronto, Ontario
FOR INFORMATION (media only):
Valérie Glazer
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
"Issued on behalf of A Different Booklist by Stephen Weir 416-801-3101"

Thursday 22 August 2019

Rattlesnakes will open Caribbean Tales Film Festival - this afternoon's Caribbean Camera this morning:


Grab your popcorn. CTFF About to Open. Annual Filmfest has Snakes on the Brain for Gala Night

By Stephen Weir

When the Caribbean Tales Film Festival (CTFF) opens in a couple weeks, the first film of the annual flickfest will have the audience thinking they have snakes on the brain when the theatre lights come back on.  Rattlesnakes is a full- length feature that has rattlers not just in the personalities of the principal actors but literally on camera too. 
The Canadian debut takes place September 4th, right on College Street in Toronto’s Little Italy.  The film will be feted at the festival’s early evening 2019 kick-off and street party, followed by an 8pm VIP filled screening across the street at the Royal Cinema!
This is probably going to be the first movie an audience will ever see where they will see the names of three snakes in the final credits! Slash and Strike don’t get much screen time or any lines to speak, but they do rattle audiences when the hiss and shake their tails at a key point in the flick. The third snake, Delilah was a snake stand-in, whose best scenes were probably shed by the movie’s editor!
The film is adapted from a stage play penned by red-hot UK author and playwright Graham Ronald Farrow. Julius Amedume, the film’s Ghanaian-British director worked with Farrow to come up with a tight 85-minute story.  Rattlesnakes received its World Premier at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles earlier this year and snapped up the Audience Award for Best Movie.
“ The movie is at one level close to the original British play,” Haitian-French-American actor and producer Jimmy Jean-Louis told the Caribbean Camera. “I am not white; in the movie I am kidnapped by three business men who are.  In the original play everyone is white and the kidnappers are regulars Joes, one is a plumber. We have changed that and it makes a significant difference (in the nuance of the story)”

Pictured Right: Jimmy Jean-Louis and Christian Oliver

It is being called a neo-noir thriller, where nothing, except the rattlesnake, is exactly what it seems. Jean-Louis plays a New Age guru, or, is he a sex therapist bedding the unhappy wives of the kidnappers in a swank Santa Barbara retreat?
Fast paced, the film opens with the three cuckolded husbands digging a grave for the therapist. They are enraged after a private eye shows them damning pictures of what sort of therapy Jean-Louis delivers to their unhappy wives (which they are paying for). They have agreed amongst themselves to break into the California love nest and teach the guru a lesson he probably isn’t going to survive!
The therapist is bound and beaten with a knuckle-breaking hammer. And, before the torture ends, the kidnappers rip open his fly to see if their wives might have been attracted to him because of the size of his penis!
“We never mention colour,” continues Jean-Louis. “ It’s the unspoken word in the room, but it is an issues which the movie really hangs on. IT really divides how audiences interpret Rattlesnakes.” According to the movie’s director and star, husbands and wives can have many different interpretations on what is all really about and who exactly the real bad people are in the film.
Even though his hands and feed are tied the therapist does gets his licks in telling each of the kidnappers how flawed their marriages really are and how they are to blame.  It is a masterful performance by a Caribbean actor who hasn’t had much exposure in Canada.
The once homeless actor is best known for his role as "the Haitian" on the NBC television series Heroes and now has a starring role on the television show Claws.

Pictured left: Jimmy Jean-Louis and Kathleen McCellan

“I have worked on films in three Canadian cities: Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. I do know the country’s big cities,” said Jean-Louis. “This time though I will get a good chance to explore Toronto. I will be up with you for 8-days around the Festival.”
“Love the idea of the CTFF,” he continued. “I am going to take part in their Incubator programme.  I want to pitch my next movie, it is also written by Julius Amedume.  It is a feature length Psychological Horror Thriller, that will be shot in my country of origin, Haiti.”
The film is called Mother Water and is fictional film, based on the African Caribbean folk tale/ mythology of what some of you might know as Mami Wata,” he said. “ Mami Wata is a half-human, half-fish like deity, that comes from the sea to dwell on land in human form, often to detrimental effect, depending on who she interacts with or what she wants.”

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