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New campaign to increase vaccine confidence among Black Torontonians

A poster on a subway car.

Image Credit: Poster designed by Kyla Gilbert. Layout by Angela Bains. 

New campaign to increase vaccine confidence among Black Torontonians

A new campaign, Vaccin8 for the Culture, seeks to tackle vaccine inequity by promoting vaccine literacy and confidence while celebrating Black health and culture in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). 

The initiative is being led by the Solid Black Collective, whose members are four Black OCAD University assistant professors Angela Bains, Kestin Cornwall, Michael Lee Poy and Dr. Kathy Moscou, in collaboration with the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA). 

“The Vaccin8 for the Culture project is an example of university-community engagement. It demonstrates the innovations that can emerge when artists and designers work with kids in the community to identify and address issues that they feel are important. That is a powerful outcome of community-based collaborations,” says Dr. Moscou who is also Interim Associate Dean in the Faculty of Design. 

“The youth vaccine ambassador posters are featured on TTC routes that pass through many Black neighbourhoods in the GTA (Jane and Finch, Eglinton West and Malvern). Posters are installed on the interior bus panels, on the rear of buses and in subway cars,” explains Cornwall. 

The campaign materials, co-designed by the OCAD U professors with Black youth, will be featured until October 13 on the TTC. The colourful and creative posters reflect their perspectives, depict images that resonate with their Black, African and Caribbean peers and express why vaccination is important. 

“The JCA is proud to support Vaccin8 and many other vaccine initiatives geared to our communities." says JAC President, Adaoma Patterson.

Dr. Akwatu Khenti, the Special Advisor to the City of Toronto’s Targeted COVID Equity Action Plan and the Chair of the Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity commented, “Vaccines are a way of preventing death. That’s why these vaccines are so important. And that’s why the misinformation, the myths, the lies, the distortions, the omissions are not just terrible, they’re offensive because Black people’s lives are being lost much more so than many other groups”. 

The Vaccin8 for the Culture campaign was inspired by the absence of campaigns and initiatives that speak to the lived experiences of Black community members.  

"We see the Vaccin8 for the Culture campaign as strongly connected to the preservation of Black culture by protecting our cultural icons and members of the Black community with historical and cultural knowledge," says Dr. Moscou. 

“Moreover, Black youth have agency and they are great drivers and advocates for causes, contributing unique concepts.  The Vaccin8 campaign provided an opportunity for Black youth to exercise agency in addressing a public health issue,” she notes. 

The project received funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, through the Vaccine Community Innovation Challenge. 

Meet the members of the Solid Black Collective

Dr. Kathy Moscou is an Assistant Professor and Interim Associate Dean in the Faculty of Design. Her career combines experiences in visual art and health. Her lived experience, informs her art, focuses on Black cultural aesthetics, contemporary design for social justice and a commitment to the Black community. 

Angela Bains is the Graduate Program Director of Strategic Foresight and Innovation and an Assistant Professor in the Advertising program. In her professional practice, she is the Co-Founder and Strategic Director of an award-winning creative agency.

Kestin Cornwall grew up in the Windsor, Ontario area. Over the past ten years, Cornwall has focused on creating relevant, progressive art. Cornwall explores culture and humanity's relationship with beauty, sex, nature and a long history of cultivation. In addition, Cornwall uses images to explore the notion that culture, entertainment, including film and other media, shape the mass public perception of Black people and people of colour in North American society. Throughout his practice he analyses our obsession with beauty, age and change. 

Michael Lee Poy is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Design. He is an Afro-Caribbean artist-activist and architect in Trinidad and Tobago. His practice and interests are centered on post-colonial Caribbean design and fabrication in the festival arts – especially Carnival.