25th Trillium Award

Knowledge Bookstore

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Knowledge Bookstore, located in Brampton, Ontario, is an Afrocentric bookstore containing everything from books to shea butter, movies, music and artwork, with a focus on the power of knowledge (of both self and world). The bookstore first opened its doors in 1997 and has been a major hub for Africentric literature in Ontario ever since.

“I have always loved books but didn’t discover books written by Black writers until the end of high school when my English teacher recommended Langston Hughes for an independent studies assignment. After reading Hughes I went on to read James Baldwin, Alice Walter, Walter Mosley, Maya Angelou and several others. This was the beginning of a journey of discovering Black writers and other Black books,” says the owner of Knowledge Bookstore, Sean Liburd.

The crux is, as many Black Canadian authors have noted, that Black-authored books are often only highlighted in bookstores and libraries during the month of February. Knowledge Bookstore marks the importance of celebrating Black History every day of the year, hosting launches and community education events in addition to featuring the artistic and literary works of Black authors everywhere.

“The idea behind opening Knowledge Books was to be able to expose young Black children to Black books much earlier than I discovered them. Not to mention that there are many people of African ancestry who are unaware of a great deal of their cultural and ancient histories. All of the materials within Knowledge Bookstore represent an attempt to ‘awaken the mind’ to knowledge of both self and these histories,” says Liburd.

Sean also sees the role of creative writing as incredibly important within the project of recognizing and preserving the contributions of Black peoples and promoting knowledge of Black history to communities across a range of cultural and ethnic spectrums—a knowledge whose scope is both local and global, in that it encompasses the achievements and histories of Black people worldwide.

The bookstore is always on the lookout for new titles that are by Black writers or discuss Black cultural history. Some of their current bestsellers include Please Baby Please by Spike Lee, The Conversation by Hill Harper, and (with a title that’s my personal favourite), What They Never Told You In History Class (Vol. 1) by Indus Khamit Kush.

Knowledge Bookstore is known not only as a hub for literatures from across the African diaspora, the Caribbean, Asia and Latin America, but a place for book launches, classes and other literary events throughout the year, including an ongoing Knowledge Book Club.

In addition to visiting Knowledge Bookstore as an Ontario Literary Landmark, you can also visit their official website by clicking here.

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