Virtual Vision Celebration Gala
We are pleased to invite you to our Virtual Vision Celebration!
The Vision Celebration Gala is a celebration of Black excellence in Montreal. The event is Black Theatre Workshop’s most important fundraiser of the year. Due to the current health crisis we have decided to host the event online via Facebook Live and YouTube on January 30th, 2021 at 7PM. We are proud to announce that the newest iteration of our event; the Virtual Vision Celebration Gala will include all of the wonderful elements of past years.
This year, the prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award will be presented to Haitian dancer, choreographer, teacher and artistic director Eddy Toussaint. The evening will also see us present the Dr. Clarence Bayne Community Service Award, which recognizes an individual dedicated to Montreal’s cultural community to community organiser and philanthropist Thelma Johnson.
Although this year we haven’t developed the technology yet to be able to offer a four-course meal through your screen, we do welcome you to cook your favourite meal at home and join us to watch the show! This year you can look forward to seeing incredible performances by a diverse array of talented Black artists. We are honoured to announce that our headline performer this year is the multi-talented Ranee Lee. Please stay tuned to this page as we will soon be announcing our other featured performers leading up to the night.
This year we are presenting our awards entirely online via our Facebook page and encourage our community of followers to register for this free event by clicking the link below. By registering for the Virtual Vision Celebration, you ensure that your name will be included in the raffle draw and are eligible to win one of our wonderful prizes!
Please join us as we celebrate the artistic and ground-breaking accomplishments of the Black community of Montreal.
Choose your prefered platform to watch the Virtual Vision Celebration
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award goes to Mr. Eddy Toussaint
Born in 1945 in Haiti; Eddy Toussaint followed his first instruction of dance at age six under the direction of Lavinia Williams. In an attempt to escape government tyranny, Toussaint and his family fled to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Pursuing his classes with many of the great teachers of the time, he studied with, Eva Von Genscy, Zeda Zare, as well as the Jazz greats, Matt Mattox and Luigi in New York. Mr. Toussaint received a bachelor’s degree in pedagogy from the University of Montreal, and a bachelor’s degree in physical education, with a dance major, from the University of Quebec in Montreal. Mr. Toussaint was with Eva Von Genscy and Genevieve Salbaing, as they co-founded Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal (1974) where he was also a principal dancer and resident choreographer. In 1975, he founded the Compagnie de Danse Eddy Toussaint later to known as Ballet Eddy Toussaint de Montréal and the École de Danse Eddy Toussaint. In1990, he founded the Sarasota Ballet of Florida. And then re-opened the Ballet Eddy Toussaint in 2009 (currently located in Laval). Since his career debut, Toussaint has accumulated many credits to his name including the honorable title of Great Montrealer, gold medals from international ballet competitions (1984, 1995,2001, and 2010), laureate of Montreal’s Black History Month (2014), and laureate for the Prix Hosia de Laval (2019).
Today, Toussaint’s efforts in re-erecting the company and school in Laval continue to foster new talents and amaze audiences in the province of Quebec and abroad.
Learn more about Mr. Eddy Toussaint, Artistic Director of Eddy Toussaint Ballet in this interview with the Montreal Gazette 28th February 2018 (Alen Mcinnis/The Gazette)
The Dr. Clarence Bayne Community Service Award will be presented to Thelma Johnson.
Thelma Johnson was born in Kingston Jamaica. She migrated to Canada in 1956, under the domestic scheme. Following her mandatory year of domestic service, she enrolled in The Madame J Walker Beauty School in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she obtained her diploma in cosmetology with Honours. She returned to Montreal to launch Thelma’s House of Beauty. The business operated successfully for 37 years. She employed not only several young professionals, but in 1984 Ms. Johnson extended her involvement in education to pioneer the first Co-op program in Hairdressing with The Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal providing structured occupational training on a weekly basis throughout the school year. As a result of the partnership between her business and the school communities, over eighty-five percent of the La Salle students who participated secured employment in their fields upon graduation. Ms. Johnson was recognized by the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal on June 3, 1987 “for the vital role she played in both the lives of the students and in the evolution of career education within the
school system.” In 1989 she went on to form The Caribbean Pioneer Women of Canada (CPWC), a platform for women who migrated to Canada under the domestic scheme. The goal was to have members meeting on a regular basis and to give back to the community. Since then the organization has given aid and support to the youth, elderly and the wider community. CPWC continues to give scholarships to Canadian students and students across the Caribbean Islands.
On June 15, 2005 at the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Labour Market Agreement between the government of Canada and Jamaica, Ms. Johnson was recognized in the House of Commons at Parliament Hill. On February 19, 2013, Ms. Johnson was awarded The Queen Elizabeth 11 Diamond Jubilee Award by former Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion for her outstanding contribution to Canadian society.
The Gloria Mitchell-Aleong Award will be presented to Blxck Cxsper (art created by the artist below) and the Victor Philips Award will be presented to Imzadi Amarante (photo right). This year we will be transforming our beloved gala into an online virtual event streamed live on our Facebook page. Vision Celebration Gala will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2021 from 7pm-8:30pm and will feature performances from some of Montreal’s most talented artists, including a special performance from legendary award-winning vocalist, Ranee Lee!
Did you know that Ranee Lee is considered Montreal’s First Lady of Jazz? Also that her amazing skills have put her at the same level of legends such as Marcel Thormé and Ella Fitzgerald? Watch this video for a quick recap on Ranee Lee’s incredible career.
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Black Theatre Workshop is Canada’s longest running Black theatre company and is committed to reflecting Black culture and community by developing and providing visibility for Black Canadian artists. Black Theatre Workshop is an award-winning English-speaking theatre company based in Montreal, Quebec.