Fashion file: Black Canadians share their inspiration

When 1,200 Black Canadians gathered at the National Black Canadians Summit, Halifax-based photographer Alvero Wiggins said it should have been called Halifax Fashion Weekend. To learn more about the beautiful and vibrant clothing worn by the delegates, we asked what inspires their fashion choices.

Whether challenging conventions or honouring ancestors, delegates showed up in style

When 1,200 Black Canadians gathered at the National Black Canadians SummitHalifax-based photographer Alvero Wiggins said it should have been called Halifax Fashion Weekend.

To learn more about the beautiful and vibrant outfits worn by delegates, we asked what inspires their fashion choices.

From cool comfort and bold prints to family and heritage, their answers were as colourful as their looks.

Oghenemine (Mimi) Jarekre 

"I'm Nigerian and I love dressing in traditional African clothing. This is one of the prints from back home - I designed it and my family sent it to me in Toronto. I love it. It's comfortable, it's easy. With white sneakers and a white bag, I'm good to go. It's pretty, chic and simple."

Black woman with short black hair wearing classes, a colourful print dress (pinks, reds, purples, yellow) and a white purse
Oghenemine (Mimi) Jarekre is CEO and founder of Redeem Clothing Recycling, a company aiming to improve recycling behaviours in Canada.  (Alvero Wiggins)

Josh Creighton

"I had to come dressed prepared: all black, blackout, to pay homage to the ancestors."

Young Black man with rust coloured hair and beard wearing a black suit. Standing in front of two paintings on easels.
Josh Creighton is a Community Engagement Specialist from Uniacke Square in Halifax, N.S. (Alvero Wiggins)

Favour Nzeribe

"I'm an entrepreneur and I like looking really cool but at the same time simple."

Black man with black hair, broad smile, hands in pockets where a peach coloured button-down short-sleeved shirt and white trousers
Favour Nzeribe is a business marketing student from Toronto. (Alvero Wiggins )

Dahabo Ahmed-Omer

"My mother inspired my fashion. My mother is a wonderful woman, her sense of style is beyond measure, and she actually dressed me. I bought all of this from Dubai when I went on my trip, so this is all my mama right here, everything."

Black woman with pink and beige head scarf, light pink jacket and pink pants carrying a black purse
Dahabo Ahmed-Omer is the executive director of the Black North Initiative in Toronto. (Alvero Wiggins)

Blessing Owowa 

"I'm wearing one of my summer two-pieces. It's very comfortable around your body and lightweight for the hot weather."

Black woman wearing colourful head scarf, with a black on white polka dot shirt and shorts. WIth a bold black and white design around the waist.
Blessing Owowa is founder of DB Pearlz, a one-stop Afrocentric fashion brand for men, women and children, based in Halifax. (Alvero Wiggins)

Aaron Sardinha

"I'm connecting to my ancestors with this beautiful traditional shirt. It was gifted to me by an elder in our community who is from Kenya, and I'm very grateful for that. I've got the Jordans on, I'm reclaiming the Jordans. I know it's owned and operated by systems of whiteness but you gotta stay fresh. I've got the colors popping on the right foot to pay tribute to Pride Month, so I've got a little splash of pink there. Shout out to the Black communities who identify as queer. I've got jewelry from family members and friends."

Young Black man with curly hair to below his ears, giving the peace sign, wearing black and gold long short-sleeved shirt, black pants and white and black Nike shoes with pink laces in one show, black laces in the other.
Aaron Sardinha is youth program coordinator with the Black Cultural Society of Prince Edward Island. (Alvero Wiggins)

Camille Georges

"My fashion inspiration is Solange Knowles. I was going for "casual chic." I'm often the youngest person in spaces, and I like to challenge the formal fit. I like to mix a blazer with sneakers, also shorts because it's summer and we don't have that many months to enjoy. I love a pop of colour, I like a statement."

Young Black woman with long hair braided in dreads, with black top and short skirt with a pink thigh-length jacket and pink and white running shoes
Camille Georges works at McGill University on the action plan to address anti-Black racism. (Alvero Wiggins)

Dena Williams 

"The vibe I was going for was 'luxe for the culture': something a little higher class but also having the culture involved. I have this headwrap, I'm not directly West African, but closely connected with many from the culture. For my shoes, I have Vans on, and these are actually limited edition where Vans collaborated with A Tribe Called Quest, one of my favorite hip-hop groups, very instrumental in Black culture and Black music. I wanted to put those two things together."

Black woman with long black hair, some in a bun, with a black dress and long jean jacket with frayed ends and sporting a yellow purse and black and white running shoes
Dena Williams is the owner and founder of Vitamin D Entertainment and the Event Director for the Summit After Dark Youth Event, in Halifax. (Alvero Wiggins)

Funmi Odeniyi 

"I feel like home today, so I had to represent how I feel. Every day, my dressing is a representation of how I feel, and this is me feeling like a queen."

Black woman with African-print head scarf, with a floor-length dress with African print down the front and beige pointed shoes.
Funmi Odeniyi is owner and founder of Michnat Fashion, an Afrocentric clothing brand where African prints are infused into designs to create a contemporary feel, based in Halifax. (Alvero Wiggins)

Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo 

"In general, I'm not a big fan of suits and very fancy fit, but I feel like in society that is seen as professional. And I do consider myself professional, I'm a CEO! But coming to the Summit, I wanted to go for something really casual, fresh, swag and laid back."

Young black man, short hair, wearing royal blue shirt with red trim, light blue pants, black and white running shoes and a beige bag with strap across his chest
Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo is the founder of 20today20tomorrow in Ottawa. (Alvero Wiggins )
Five fists raise, each with different coloured skin, with the words "Being Black in Canada" next to them with a colourful border

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.