WE REMEMBER WHEN!!
On Saturday August 20, 1994, Burke’s Community Bookstore opened its doors to the public without a single customer. This bold venture was certainly a tremendous leap of faith into the unknown--- by a couple that believed and still believe that nothing is impossible when minds and hearts are united and faith in God is activated,
Except for one young ardent family member, not too many others fully grasp the journey that we were embarking on. He went far and wide spreading the word about this new Black Bookstore at 1032 St Clair Avenue West. He was so proud. He even contacted a newspaper to write an article about the event. He simply could not understand why they could not feel what he was feeling,...pride, especially when he was told “stores open everyday, so what was so special about this store”?
In 1994 there was no social media as we know it today. Instead we relied on Word of Mouth, outreach, and the fervent support of community partners in Toronto and the GTA to grow our fledgling business. We remember the dedication, sacrifice, yes and even derision that many employees experienced in order to showcase our books, art and gift items that are reflective of themselves, their families, their community.
Now in 2021 as we celebrate Black History Month African/,Heritage Month virtually, our hearts are filled with gratitude and pride for the support that we garnered from community members and organizations to add to the contributions of those who came before us in various endeavours. To the many brave Civic Employees (Government employees at all levels), who invited us into their work spaces, or accepted our invitation to display our merchandise; to the nurses who championed showcasing our diverse material in hospital hallways (Toronto Western, Toronto General) during their lunch periods; to the many teachers and librarians who overcame the wrath and indifference of colleagues to have our books added to their inventory (TDSB, Day Care Centres, Libraries); and to the Non Profit sector that hosted our presence on behalf of their clients,(Sistering) we say thank you, because….We Remember When.