• Michele Newton

“Making Change” kick offs Black History Month in community

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

Event honours the past, embraces the present, and supports the future

Three women at a podium celebrating Black History Month
City of Barrie Sponsors Making Change Black History Month Kick-off 2019

Media Release - January 18, 2019

“Making Change” Black History Month Kick Off will mark the start of February’s Black History Month in Barrie on Friday, February 1, 2019. Showcasing speakers, artists, musicians and poets from across Simcoe County, the event highlights the role of diversity and inclusion in honouring the past, embracing the present and supporting the future.

Organized by community changemakers, Shelly Skinner and Michèle Newton, Making Change is presented in support of The YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka Immigrant Services - Helping Newcomers Adjust to Life in Canada, and in partnership with The City of Barrie and Our Mosaic Lives. Making Change Black History Month Kick Off happens on Friday, February 1, 2019, from 6-10 p.m at Drors, located at 98 Dunlop St. W, in Barrie, ON. Tickets are $10 (or $15 at the door) and youth 18 and under attend free of charge.

“Launching Black History Month with Making Change is really about community togetherness founded on diversity and inclusion. This event invites people to experience Barrie and Simcoe County in new, refreshed and encouraging ways,” says Shelly Skinner, Organizer. “Through our event program we’re embracing the community values that connect us as people, bring us closer together, and encourage us to support each other. It’s important to spark broad community interest and foster conversations around inclusion and diversity and this is one way to do just that.”

With the official program starting at 6:30 p.m., guests will hear remarks from historian and recipient of the 2018 Harriet Tubman Award, Janie Cooper-Wilson on Honouring the Past, Michèle Newton and Andrea Murray on Embracing the Present, and youth leader Dorion Odusanya on Supporting the Future. Poet Charlotte Henay will present her series “Note from the Road’.

Exhibits include Artist Sean George and Our Mosaic Lives, with musicians Michelle Guy and Quincy Johnson-Talbutt providing entertainment during the evening. The event will be catered by One Love Island Cuisine and offers a cash bar with proceeds going to support the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka Immigrant Services - Helping Newcomers Adjust to Life in Canada.

The event is presented by Pleasure Diva presents in partnership with The City of Barrie and our Mosaic Lives. Community sponsors and supporters include MTAV Multi Tech Audio Visual, Simcoe Print Solutions, Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, Collingwood Kombucha Company, Heritage Estate Winery & Cidery, One Love Island Cuisine and Simcoe Print Solutions.

Event Listing

Location: Drors, 98 Dunlop Street W., Barrie ON

Time: 6-10 p.m. Official program begins at 6:30p.m.


Honouring the Past – Janie Cooper Wilson

Embracing the Present: Michèle Newton and Andrea Murray

Supporting the Future - Dorion Odusanya

Note from the Road (Poetry) – Charlotte Henay


Quincy Johnson-Talbutt

Michelle Guy


Artist - Sean George

Our Mosaic Lives – digital display

Simcoe County Museum – details to come


About Shelly Skinner

Shelly Skinner, she/her is a changemaking entrepreneur, a self-employed event planner, the Event Coordinator for Drors, and the former host and producer of a ground-breaking community television show, “Pleasure Diva”. She’s a well-respected public figure who has spoken at various rallies and conferences in both Barrie and the GTA. Last year, Shelly was chosen by The Ontario Trillium Foundation to speak on the importance of funding for diversity and inclusion organizations like Barrie Pride; was an invited keynote/rally speaker and MC for International Women’s Day events organized by Barrie’s Women and Children’s Shelter and Georgian College; was the MC for various City of Barrie events including the Barrie Arts Awards and the Black History Month Women of Colour Panel; and, was a panelist for the EGALE - Canada Human Rights Trust conference in Toronto. Shelly was also featured in Our Mosaic Lives.

A 2018 recipient of the Leading Women, Leading Girls Building Communities Award, Shelly was recognized for improving her community and the lives of women, children and marginalized groups. It’s hard to imagine that just two years ago she was living in a women and children’s shelter with her two school-aged children, Jade and Lucius. In 2018, Shelly ran for the City of Barrie Municipal Election and she inspired women of various backgrounds to seek leadership roles in our community.

About Our Mosaic Lives: Michèle Newton

Choosing to celebrate and validate her life experiences by taking a personal journey, Michèle’s Our Mosaic Lives project explores her relationship to black history, black women and girls from a personal growth perspective she calls “Back to Black”. Seeking out and interviewing black Canadian women from varied backgrounds and experiences, Michèle connected over coffee and emails, and learned about their life experiences, perspectives and views. Their moving reflections on growing up black in Canada and of role models who influenced them, resonated deeply with Michèle, who captured their photos and their essence and blogged about it through Our Mosaic Lives. In 2019, Our Mosaic Lives will expand to include black Canadian girls.

Media contact:

Michèle Newton

Our Mosaic Lives 705.220.2469

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