Event Recording

Join Us in Honouring the Gairey Legacy of Civil Rights Activism

The Gairey family’s history dates back to their great, great-great-grandfather’s escape from slavery through the Underground Railroad; the family’s activism is in their blood.

Desmond Davis, Janice Gairey’s father, was a pivotal member of the Black Sleeping Car Porters along with the late Stan Grizzle and Harry Gairey, her uncle.

Harry Gairey was a leader in Toronto’s Black community, and he effected change at a national level. Inspired by the work of Marcus Garvey, he was a charter member of the Toronto branch of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and helped to form the Negro Citizenship Association to advocate for changes to Canada’s discriminatory immigration laws.

Janice Gairey’s history is entrenched in working with communities of colour and has amassed over fifty years as a social justice advocate, with a primary focus on combating racism in Canada. She was the Ontario Federation of Labour’s (OFL) Human Rights Director for 11 while her career as a labour activist and union organizer spanned four decades.

Janice, at her 2012 Bromley Armstrong Award presentation, said, “At this stage of my life, I am doing this work for my grandchildren and for my community, and no one in any position of power or privilege is going to stop me.”

One of Janice’s sons, Juan-Yahya, has served on the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) provincial Executive since 2021.
Juan says, “Our family has always been at the forefront of speaking for things that affect our people, having a voice and being heard.”

Events & PresentationsGairey Family