Edmonton’s Black-owned market celebrated its first anniversary Saturday with an outdoor market featuring shops, services, and live entertainment.
The Black-Owned Market Edmonton (BOM YEG) is made up of volunteers with an aim to support and build up Black-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, creatives and community organizations.
“There’s nothing that’s been like this market in Edmonton before we started,” said co-founder and chief business officer Rochelle Ignacio.
“And so we just really want to showcase our community in a positive light and really uplift and help all these vendors.”
BOM YEG’s first market, held in late July last year, drew around 1,000 people. Since then the group has gotten creative through the pandemic by opening an online store and putting together Valentine’s gift packages.
Saturday’s event was held in the parking lot of Victoria School of the Arts and featured 25 businesses, as well as live performances including Indigenous and African drumming.
Organizers expected several hundred attendees.
Bringing community together
Co-founder and technology business officer Ivan Touko said after the previous 16 months, the event is about more than just showcasing businesses.
“It’s also all about bringing the community together.
“We’ve been through pandemic, how do we have events that are different, that bring a different flavour to what is already happening in Edmonton?
“And so it’s important for all the cultures, all the communities to be able to come and see the diversity, the programming and how we celebrate and how we shop.”
Touko said this year’s market encompassed more than four months of planning.
“We’re at a point where it feels like some of the structures that we’ve set up are really going to help us moving forward.”
Ignacio said many entrepreneurial efforts struggle through their first year. She said plans going forward are dependent on the volunteer-driven organization’s capacity but future markets may be in the works.
“As far as our dreams for a Black-owned market, it’d be great to have a storefront one day.”
Alnoor Hasham and Shemine Gulamhusein were among the market’s visitors Saturday.
“I think it is important in this day and age to actually support Black-owned businesses and Black-owned market,” Hasham said.
“I think it’s also a nice way to highlight skills and talents that come from across the world.,” Gulamhusein said. She said it was nice to see different people coming out to support the community.
“Especially after what’s been going on throughout the world, to see people bouncing back, it’s pretty good,” Hasham said.
Partners for Saturday’s market included the Africa Centre’s Council for Advancement of African Canadians in Alberta, Habesha African Market and the Edmonton Community Foundation.