Aviva Honours BHM | Two Group Art Exhibitions Celebrating Black Artists

Art and Design EventsArt Picks
Portrait of artist Ebenezer Haile and family

February marks Black History Month, a time to honour and celebrate the instrumental role, culture, and contributions of Black people throughout history.

In honour of Black History Month, Aviva Canada held two group art exhibitions at both their Oakville and Markham offices in partnership with Partial, featuring work by local black artists Ebenezer Haile, Juliet Sekandi, and Daniel Maluka during February 2023. “This has been an incredible Black History Month for all of us at Aviva. The incredible artwork, the history provided, the culture spread amongst all of us at Aviva, the difference we have made to date in our organization,” says Lorie Cesario-Fuorivia B.A., CIP, Learning and Development at Aviva. “In the words of Shanoy Coombs, “Let us be conscious to always keep Black History at the forefront of our minds. Black History is much more than a month, it is a mindset and a map for everything the black race hopes to achieve”. ”

This initiative was led by Aviva Canada’s Origins Committee, a group working to foster diversity and inclusion within their organization, whilst also sharing stories from a variety of cultures across their group of employees.

Just by exhibiting a few artworks and exhibits we have created interest and a sense of belonging within our Aviva Community.

Mary Chedumbarum-Ramasamy, Co-Chair, Aviva Canada Origins Community

“From my first time celebrating Black History month at Aviva Canada (which was, at the time, just my colleague Thourla Moses Moore and myself), we have now come a long way,” says Mary Chedumbarum-Ramasamy, Co-Chair, Aviva Canada Origins Community and Oakville Aviva Gives Champion, sharing her reflections on the showcase. “Just by exhibiting a few artworks and exhibits we have created interest and a sense of belonging within our Aviva Community. I am grateful to the gallery and the artists for having loaned us their precious artworks. We have to make sure Black History Month doesn’t start and end in February so looking forward to a continued collaboration to continue what we have started within this Black History Month.”

The month-long exhibit culminated in a celebration event at the end of February, bringing together team contributors and leaders.

Get to know the artists and their displayed works below:

Ebenezer Haile

Ebenezer Haile is an artist of Ethiopian descent, born and raised in Toronto, ON. As the son of a photographer, images have been integral to his upbringing. Having honed his craft at the Academy of Art Canada and the Florence Academy of Art, his work today explores narratives concerned with the human condition in its many forms.

From the Soil

“This drawing is part of a series of portraits titled Tropisms, relating the behaviour of plants and humans. From the Soil attempts to reconnect our human existence to the natural world. Acting as a grounding and an awakening of our potential.”

Always Bite Your Tongue For Balance

High quality archival ink printed on fine art paper, 12″ x 10″

“Street vendors taking a break to play tetherball, taken on a hot and busy street in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Seeing these young men at play reminded me of the possibilities of creativity and the ability of play to transform the moment, or one’s entire life.” 

A Praying Mother

High quality archival ink printed on fine art paper, 15″ x 10″

“This photo was taken outside of an Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Seeing the earnest devotion of these women reminded me of the power of collective prayer and community. Growing up in a religious home this image also reminded me of my own mother and her use of prayer as a form of protection.”

Eyes Of Hope

High quality archival ink printed on fine art paper, 12″ x 10″

“Taken during my travels to Southern Ethiopia, the birthplace of my grandmother and my only remaining grandparent. I came across this beautiful boy while passing his village home.”

Discover Ebenezer’s Available Work

Aviva Canada’s office in Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Juliet Sekandi

Juliet Sekandi is a Ugandan-Canadian Toronto-based artist working primarily in acrylic on canvas. Juliet draws her inspiration from her Ugandan culture, street art, architectural designs, and her love for travel & fashion.

“I believe that the spaces we live in are sacred; they reflect who we are at any given moment in time. To live in a gallery is to surround ourselves with pieces of art that not only express who we are but evoke layers of emotions that can be experienced and explored by all that enter these spaces”.


Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 24

“To love ourselves and each other is our highest call.  Love is complicated and beautiful and I celebrate it always.”

Diary of Faith and Matador

About Diary of Faith, Sekandi writes, “A young mother who is 7-months pregnant flees a civil war to give birth to her child. With nothing but faith, she moves forward to the unknown. I was that child.” Sekandi reflects further, sharing her inspiration about Matador, another abstract work: “Before the gates open it’s just you, your thoughts and the silence. What will happen next? You have no idea but you are ready. We are all Matadors in the arena of life, courageously waiting but ready.”

Discover Juliet’s Available Work

Daniel Maluka

Daniel Maluka is a Toronto based artist and writer hailing from South Africa. His work takes an Afrocentric approach while incorporating surrealist elements. In using his interest in the subconscious, Daniel brings what lurks in the deep recesses of the mind into the forefront of his work.


Digital Illustration printed on canvas, 11″ x 14″

“Symbiosis is a painting that depicts a figure with two heads on a singular body but it metaphorically represents codependent relationships. Whether for good or bad, we all have people in our lives that feel as though they will be permanent fixtures. I wanted to channel the intense nature of those relationships into this piece.” 

Discover Daniel’s Available Work

Organizations and educational resources on the history of Black communities in Canada

There are many organizations across the country devoted to the promotion and awareness of the history of Black communities in Canada. Explore some of them and plan a visit to one near you this year.


  • Amherstburg Freedom Museum
    Previously known as ‘the Black Museum’, the Amherstburg Freedom Museum is a community-based, non-profit museum that tells the story of African-Canadians’ journey and contributions, by preserving and presenting artifacts that educate and inspire.
  • New Brunswick Black History Society
    The New Brunswick Black History Society is dedicated to the research, analysis, documentation and preservation of New Brunswick’s Black History. The NBBHS gathers information concerning New Brunswick’s Black residents, past and present, promotes awareness of New Brunswick’s Black history, encourages the Black community and the general public to work together and works towards increasing the presence of Black History in New Brunswick’s educational system.
  • Black Loyalist Heritage Society
    The objectives of the Society are to:
    • Develop, preserve, promote, protect and exhibit the history and heritage of the Black Loyalists and their descendants;
    • Promote universal recognition of the ancestry of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society as a nascent Canadian heritage community, having been among the original settlers of Canada, and having had no prior citizenship in any other country;
    • Cultivate and contribute to the economic prosperity of the Black Loyalist community through participation in community development initiatives;
    • Actively participate in Canadian multiculturalism campaigns, projects and other efforts toward social cohesion.
    In 2015, the Black Loyalist Center was created to promote Black Loyalists as an integral part of Canada’s heritage and to foster the economic prosperity of the Black Loyalist community.
  • Black History Ottawa
    Black History Ottawa is a registered Canadian charity with a mandate to advance education by increasing the public’s knowledge and appreciation of, and by carrying out research in, the history, culture, traditions, and achievements of Canadians of African descent.
  • British Columbia Black History Awareness Society (BCBHAS)
    The British Columbia Black History Awareness Society (BCBHAS) celebrates the historical and contemporary achievements and contributions of Black communities in British Columbia by creating an awareness of their history in this province, stimulating interest in their stories. This website offers a rich learning centre with resources, articles, reports, and videos for everyone including educators, parents, students, families, and researchers.
  • Buxton National Historic Site & Museum
    Founded on the original site of the Elgin Settlement that served as a terminus on the Underground Railroad for Black people fleeing oppression, Buxton National Historic Site & Museum’s main purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret historical artifacts related to the Elgin Settlement.
  • Ontario Black History Society
    The Ontario Black History Society is a non-profit registered Canadian charity dedicated to the study, preservation and promotion of Black history and heritage.
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site
    Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site sits on part of the original property purchased in 1841 by abolitionist Josiah Henson and his supporters to establish a refuge for the many fugitives from slavery in the United States. It consists of an interpretive centre, three historic buildings, two cemeteries and numerous artifacts that were preserved as a legacy to these early pioneers.
  • Slavery to Freedom
    Explore an important chapter of Ontario’s history through visits to the many Black heritage sites and museums across the province.
  • Black History Month – Montréal
    The Round Table on Black History Month is a non-profit organization that promotes activities highlighting both the history and the contemporary situation of Black communities in Quebec.
  • The Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia
    The Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia is a museum and library resource centre that focuses on the history and culture of African Nova Scotians, striving to educate and inspire, as well as to protect, preserve, and promote Black culture in Nova Scotia.
  • The Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum Inc. (SACHM)
    SACHM is a provincial organization whose primary purpose is to celebrate, explore, research, document and preserve the history, heritage and contributions of people of African ancestry.