Posted on February 17 2021
As we celebrate Black History this month, and all the imperative leaders that have changed the course of history with their bravery and determination, it is also just as important to recognize those who continue to commemorate their legacy and keep their stories alive. That being said we have been privileged to speak with Tiyahna Ridley-Padmore. Tiyahna is the author of Trailblazers, a children’s book that introduces readers to Canada’s Black history through the under-told stories of over forty incredible change makers. The book is meant to engage middle grade readers about Black history through the use of artistic images, poems and engaging illustrations.
As Tiyahna commenced her journey to educate others on the strong Black presence that existed in Canadian history, she felt a serious disconnect within her community. By 2019 she had connected with illustrator Merryl-Royce and had submitted the completed manuscript to 8 different Canadian book publishers. Unfortunately, she felt the process becoming quickly dis-empowering as publishers were trying to alter the book so much, that Trailblazers no longer felt like Trailblazers. She felt that there was a disconnect between gate keepers and the actual needs and appetite of the community. Therefore, Tiyahna and Merryl-Royce took matters in their own hand and launched a campaign to raise the minimum $10,000 funding needed to publish the company. Their expectations were surpassed as they met their goal in less than ten hours and managed to raise as much as $47000!!!
This of course, was an eye-opening moment in Tiyahna’s life, as she came to the realization that people were awaiting this book, but the traditional means enabled such a book to flourish as it was perceived as not “marketable”. This was definitely an upsetting moment to face, but despite such a disconnect, the power of community support has allowed for the existence of Trailblazers. When we asked Tiyahna; how she thinks Trailblazers is impacting the Black community? She responded the following “Now young children are able to take pride in their ancestors’ stories and be inspired by people who look like them. They are able to see themselves through this book, instilling this sense of belonging, which is something as a child I struggled with, due to the lack of representation in books”. To continue feeling empowered, check out https://www.blacktrailblazers.ca where you can learn more on how you can get your hands on this work of art.
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