Making Our Way Home with Blair Imani

2020, Arts + Culture, Equity + Justice

Blair Imani, activist, writer and historian, brings her second illustrated tome of radical history to Vancouver in time for Black History Month! This event celebrates Imani’s wisdom and authorship as well as invites local Black activists for an intimate dialogue on the parallel but different histories of Black Canadians. 

Join us for a rich discussion on the importance of Black history in the context of Black liberation with a collection of influential Black voices. 

This event is organized in collaboration with Penguin Random House, Massy Books, SFU Public Square and Cicely Blain Consulting.

Sat, 22 Feb 2020

1:00 - 4:00 p.m. (PT)

312 Main Street
Located at the corner of Main and Cordova
Please enter from the Cordova St entrance

We respectfully acknowledge that this event takes place on the Unceded, Traditional, Ancestral Territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ, and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm First Nations.

Making Our Way Home Book Synopsis

A powerful illustrated history of the Great Migration and its sweeping impact on Black and American culture, from Reconstruction to the rise of hip hop.

Over the course of six decades, an unprecedented wave of Black Americans left the South and spread across the nation in search of a better life–a migration that sparked stunning demographic and cultural changes in twentieth-century America. Through gripping and accessible historical narrative paired with illustrations, author and activist Blair Imani examines the largely overlooked impact of The Great Migration and how it affected–and continues to affect–Black identity and America as a whole.

Making Our Way Home explores issues like voting rights, domestic terrorism, discrimination, and segregation alongside the flourishing of arts and culture, activism, and civil rights. Imani shows how these influences shaped America’s workforce and wealth distribution by featuring the stories of notable people and events, relevant data, and family histories. The experiences of prominent figures such as James Baldwin, Fannie Lou Hamer, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X), Ella Baker, and others are woven into the larger historical and cultural narratives of the Great Migration to create a truly singular record of this powerful journey.

About the Author

Blair Imani

Blair Imani is a critically-acclaimed historian, outspoken advocate and activist, and dynamic public speaker. The author of two historical books: Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History (2018) and Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and The Black American Dream (2020), she centers women and girls, global Black communities, and the LGBTQ community. Blair has appeared on Fox News and MSNBC, presented at colleges and universities, spoken at conferences around the world, and delivered powerful talks for organizations and brands including TEDx and GLAAD.


Stephanie Allen, Udokam Iroegbu and Olivia Lucas will speak on Black Vancouver history, West African history and Afro-Indigenous history respectively.

Stephanie Allen

Stephanie Allen is a real estate development professional with a particular focus on equitable city-building. She started her career in development in Kelowna in 2002 after graduating with a degree in Business Administration and worked for market developers in BC, Arizona, and Alberta.  In 2011 she joined BC Housing where she spent six years delivering provincially-owned housing affordable housing projects in partnership with municipalities, First Nations, and non-profit groups across BC. Most recently Stephanie was the VP of Project Planning & Partnerships at Catalyst Community Developments Society and in April 2019 she rejoined BC Housing in the role of AVP Strategic Business Operations & Performance. 

Stephanie is a founding board member of Hogan’s Alley Society, a non-profit organization that seeks to advance political, economic, and social opportunities for people of African descent.  The focus of this work centres on the development of a non-profit community land trust in Vancouver’s Northeast False Creek Neighbourhood that will include over 500 rental homes, commercial spaces, and an African Canadian cultural centre. Most recently, Hogan's Alley Society has partnered with PHS Community Services Society, BC Housing, and the City of Vancouver to deliver 52 supportive housing units that prioritizes Black and Indigenous peoples who are over-represented in the homeless population. 

Stephanie completed a master’s degree in Urban Studies at Simon Fraser University in June 2019 which analyzes on urban planning and municipal policy through a social justice framework especially as it relates to racialized and marginalized communities. She also serves on the City of Vancouver’s Poverty Action Advisory Committee.

Udokam Iroegbu

Udokam was born and raised in Nigeria, she has been settling, working, and growing in Coast Salish Territories for over 9 years. When she is not dazzling you with her unprecedented sense of humour, or her OH I KNOW I CAN DANCE moves, she is actively working with the black community in Vancouver to dismantle white supremacy and the patriarchal society we live in. With an undergraduate degree in civil engineering, Udokam has a passion for sustainable engineering practices and how that intermingles with social justice. Udokam was part of the team that designed an approved Active Travel Plan for the City of Vernon as part of their 2020 vision. She was also nominated as Woman of the Year in Leadership at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus. If you're lucky, you'll be amazed at the ease that she switches her accent back to home, with excitement - this ability to adapt and be a chameleon is one of her favourite strategies to survival in Vancouver as a Black woman.

Olivia Lucas

Olivia Lucas, is a Nova Scotian Black-Cree Mètis actress from the countryside of southern Ontario. From a small community in Lavender Hill, Olivia spent her early years growing up on a farm, whereafter she moved to Toronto to pursue her theatrical training. Olivia now resides in Vancouver, British Columbia where she has pursued her passion in the performing arts. In 2019 she performed in the first showcase for the Tricksters and Writers workshop program with the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival; which fosters the growth and empowerment of our indigenous women writers and creators. She also performed as the lead in Beneath the Surface, by Jenifer Brousseau; a play bringing to light the heartbreaking suicide rate among our indigenous youth. Olivia also performed in the first workshop performance SRO, by Brenda Prince/Middle of the Sky in the Heart of the City Festival in collaboration with Urban Ink Productions. Most recently she performed in the final run of our beloved Bah Humbug Christmas musical, by Vancouver Moving Theatre in collaboration with SFU Woodwards. Both these stories highlighted the crisis of our Downtown Eastside Vancouver community. Olivia’s focus has always been to use her craft to give voice to the untold stories of her ancestors and communities, through the lenses of a mixed race woman.


Cicely Belle Blain

Cicely Belle Blain is the CEO of a social justice-informed diversity and inclusion consulting company with over 100 clients worldwide. They are noted for founding Black Lives Matter Vancouver and subsequently being listed as one Vancouver’s 50 most powerful people, BC Business’s 30 under 30 and one of 150 Black women and non-binary people making change across Canada. Cicely Belle is an instructor in Executive Leadership at Simon Fraser University and the author of Burning Sugar (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020).

Indigenous Welcome

Kwiigay iiwaans

Kwiigay iiwaans is a 2spirit musician and language learner from the Haida and Squamish Nations. Their sound mixes their traditional languages with originally composed electronic music.