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Portia White: A Celebration of Her Life and Legacy

Over many months of thoughtful planning, our students have been actively engaged in learning about Portia White and her cultural impact as a Canadian legend, international musical star and breaker of racial barriers. We will unveil a plaque in her honour as part of a larger student-led commemorative ceremony, with some very special guest speakers and performers. It is indeed an exciting and significant moment as we come together to pay her this richly deserved tribute and students will be dedicating time in class to view the ceremony.
It is our hope that Portia’s reputation, as the first Black Canadian concert singer to achieve international renown, will be buoyed by the installation of this memorial. It will stand in its honoured place as a testament to her achievements both on and off the stage, and in recognition of the impact she has had on Branksome Hall as a beloved voice and music teacher.

To view the ceremony, which took place on Monday, April 11, 2022, please see the video below. 

Meet Our Special Guest Performers & Speakers

List of 5 items.

  • Measha Brueggergosman-Lee

    Singer, actor and writer
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  • Elizaveta Kozlova’15

    Singer and Branksome alumna
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  • Shakura S’Aida

    Singer and former Branksome parent
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  • Sheila White

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  • Dr. George Elliott Clarke

    Author, poet and professor
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Portia White Plaque

List of 1 items.

  • Written By Dr. George Elliott Clarke

    Portia White Celebration collaborator, author, poet and professor, and Portia’s great-nephew. (Plaque will be unveiled on Monday, April 11 in front of Portia White's family.)
    Read More

Meet Portia White

Portia's Legacy Remembered

List of 4 items.

  • Measha Brueggergosman-Lee

    "It's my great pleasure to contribute to this celebration of a Canadian musical pioneer, for whom wider name-recognition is long overdue, as we heighten her profile and honour her place, her voice and her legacy as a groundbreaking force on the world's concert stage."
  • Dr. George Elliott Clarke

    It is a testament to the avant-garde pedagogy and the visionary commitment to social justice that Branksome Hall responded so readily and cheerfully to my pipe-dream that there could be--
    should be--a plaque erected here to represent Canada's first internal Black star of stage and hall. Branksome Hall has seized upon this opportunity to explore and advocate for Black Excellence within its own precincts, and all of its students and faculty have engaged with this idea of honouring Portia White with gusto and incredible imagination. As Portia White's great nephew, I am thrilled to see the plaque dream come to fruition, so that Portia White's name, already integral to the history of Branksome Hall, is now inscribed on its very hallowed premises.
  • Principal Karen L. Jurjevich

    “This is an opportune and important moment, with our ongoing strategic focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, to showcase the significance Branksome Hall and Principal Edith Read played in Portia White’s life and career while we study our history and celebrate Black excellence within the student curriculum and broader community.”
  • Jill Strimas, English Department Faculty

    "Symbols and monuments create meaning. This is both a lasting tribute and a commitment to diverse, equitable and inclusive spaces at Branksome Hall." 
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.

Setting the new standard for girls' education everywhere takes collective action. From all of us.