Dispatch from the Food Movement: Anan Lololi, Toronto, Afri-Can FoodBasket

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - 10:03am

OCTOBER 7, 2020 –

We spoke to Anan Lololi, an urban sustainable food systems consultant and veteran food justice activist based out of Toronto, Ontario. He is one of the founders of the Afri-Can FoodBasket, a community based non-profit that has been at the forefront of championing food justice in Canada and Black food sovereignty for Toronto’s African, Caribbean, and Black (ACB) community since 1995. He spoke of his extensive history working in the food movement, the potential for social change in this current moment, and his vision for the future.

Anan stressed how anti-racism work must be at the forefront of any work in social change, including food work. The recent momentum in the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by the latest documentations of police brutality against Black people, is another testament to its necessity.

 

“Anti-racism is about learning about racism, learning about how we can live together, so we don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again.”

 

Education is key

Anan believes strongly in education and building awareness – the key elements in food justice. The existing food system is not serving the needs for many, as years of systemic racism against people of African descent and Indigenous communities have been working against them. Resources must be allocated to respond to the most vulnerable, and those who are most food insecure must be prioritized.

At the Afri-Can FoodBasket, Anan has been asking:

 

“How can we be more self-determining within Canada? We want to be part of the whole sustainable food systems movement and get the resources to be food sovereign.”

 

Anan’s work with the Afri-Can FoodBasket and other initiatives is moving towards African Canadian food sovereignty, and tapping into the resources and skills that people of African descent can bring to Canada’s Sustainable Food Systems movement. They intend to do this by “increasing the visibility of visionary Black leadership, cultivating Black self-determination, Black institution building and organizing for land and food justice . We want to make sure that folks who have skills could [actually] contribute to the development of their community and the Canadian Food Sovereignty movement.”

Previous attempts at relying on institutions led by white folks/allies to do this work have failed according to Anan. He understands that it is up to people of colour in partnership with white allies to create an equitable food system and is looking at how this can be achieved.

The City of Toronto's CABR Unit (Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit) is partnering with the Afri-Can FoodBasket to support the incubation of Toronto’s first Black Food initiative is a source of inspiration and excitement in the community. The partnership is supporting pivotal community and key stakeholder led conversations that will bring together residents and key Black food leaders, actors and activists in the City to develop the framework and focus for a long term Black food sovereignty initiative. Other confirmed Black food sovereignty partners include Ryerson University Centre for Studies in Food Security, the People’s Food Institute, FoodShare, Caribbean African Canadian Social Services and the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities.

From November 27 - 28, 2020, join Anan and the CABR Unit for their inaugural conference, “Cultivation of Black Food Sovereignty in Toronto: Celebrating the Past, Envisioning the Future.”