ABOUT US: "HER"STORY
The origins of hip hop/urban music are rooted in hip hop street culture from the early 1970’s, which itself was derived from jazz, rock and roll, reggae, blues and later disco. Hip Hop was created as a result of the limited opportunities for artistic expression by music, illustration, dance and creative writing among young people of colour in North America. Today hip hop permeates North America’s social and political consciousness of artists, grassroots organizations, independent and mainstream media and large corporations. Participants will explore the roles of women in the context of urban culture using the arts as a creative medium of expression through facilitated workshops with professional artists in the arts, media and community services sectors.
The Medina Collective is the brainchild of Tonika Morgan in May 2003. Having personally experienced negative encounters, and hearing about similar experiences from other women in Toronto’s urban culture industry, she realized the need for women to share their stories through an organized forum with a vision of empowering women using the hip hop inspired (read: urban) art and social justice scenes, Tonika sought out artists, and community development specialists and media industry professionals to advise her on how to pursue the creation of an urban arts organization for young women in Toronto.
By September 2003, The Medina Collective was comprised of five women of various ages and from various professional, educational and artistic backgrounds. The group collectively set out to create a hip hop/urban culture/journalism/mentorship program for young women of colour ages 16-24, as well as a magazine directed towards the same demographic with contributions from program participants.
In July 2004 with the support of St. Stephen’s Community House-Youth Arcade, The Medina Collective ran a 6-week volunteer-driven pilot project. Artists and organizations – including storyteller and dub poet d’bi young, Sketch, Young People’s Press and Ontario Young People’s Alliance – provided free support to the project through facilitation and/or donation of resources/services. By the end of the project, the Medina Collective had secured a $1500 grant from Toronto Dominion Bank to print and launch the pilot issue of Medina Magazine.
In December 2004, Medina Magazine was launched with the support of a number of Toronto’s up-and-coming artists, including d’bi young, Amina Alfred, Shebang! B-girl crew, Lisa “luscious” Tai”, Miss KLC and DJ L’Oqenz. The magazine’s glossy 28-page publication entitled “Re: Definition” encouraged women to look at the definitions in urban culture about women of colour and challenge them. Printing only 300 copies, Medina Magazine was being requested locally at Toronto Women’s Bookstore, Uprising Bookstore and other local retail outlets and community organizations as far as the Netherlands.
Today The Medina Collective has presented at a number of local schools and conferences in the Greater Toronto Area and outside of the province. Additionally, Medina Magazine is further establishing itself with the support of the Young People’s Press, author Makeda Silvera, and staff from the Literary Review of Canada, Nightwood Theatre and the York and Ryerson Women Centres. This support will help create a summer program and magazine that will allow for funding for more artist participation, arts and culture excursions and support for creative submissions for Medina Magazine’s fall issue.
MEET THE TEAM
Tonika is a first year student at Ryerson University. Her contribution to Medina as the founder and Executive Director include: graphic design, layout and art direction skills, as shown with Medina Magazine’s first issue, “Re:Definition”, and building the Medina Advisory Group.
Kemba Byam is a recent graduate of York University’s arts faculty, where she majored in women’s studies. She is a feminist who strongly advocates for more women involvement in decision making positions in the music and the media. When she is not working, Kemba hosts a radio show at York’s CHRY radio station on Wednesday afternoons.
Sthepany (pronounced “Stephanie”) is a second year student at York University, with plans to pursue a career in human rights law. Sthepany has become the Youth Safety Coordinator with the Toronto Youth Cabinet. She is also President of Youth Encouraging Self-Empowerment, an organization dedicated to empowering Toronto’s African-Canadian youth population.
With an honours degree in Materials Science, Shara has worked in engineering consulting for five years. Moving into interactive multimedia design, she is achieving a greater balance between the technical and creative spheres. Shara is of South-Asian descent and is an established female DJ in the techno and psytek scenes since 2000.
Saara Siddiqi has a degree in English with a minor and Peace and Conflict Studies. She began her community involvement in 1993 through volunteering at St. Joseph’s Community Health Centre in Hamilton.
Her involvement with the Medina Collective stems from a love for rhythm, dissonance, and harmony. For her, Medina is a collective of women using pieces of urban culture and media to redefine, reclaim and rewrite rhythm for women in Hip Hop culture.
MEET THE ADVISORS!
The Medina Advisory Group is a collective of professionals, organizations, activists, urban culture practitioners, feminists who rally under the social justice banner. These individuals come from an array of experiences, from municipal affairs to grassroots organizing. The role that these individuals play in the Medina Mentorship project is that of a mentor- providing guidance and inspiration as we continue to grow. Each advisor brings a new perspective and expertise to the table. While some mentors provide networking opportunities and advise on program development, others provide space and resources for our program. Provided below is a snapshot of Medina’s advisory group.
EMILY MILLS B.A
Journalist, B. Journ., Ryerson School of Journalism, Ryerson University (2005)
Youth activist/Toronto Youth Cabinet Coordinator
Chief Administrators Office
City of Toronto
Community Development Officer
City of Toronto- Social Development
City of Toronto- Social Development
ST. STEPHEN’S COMMUNITY HOUSE- KENSINGTON SITE
LITERARY REVIEW OF CANADA
CENTRAL NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE
CBC CANADA, MOVIES AND MINI SERIES