Multicultural Community Storyteller, 2022-2024
Multicultural Community Storyteller Teajai Travis proudly identifies as an Afro-Indigenous descendant of the Underground Railroad travellers that made a home in North Buxton, Ontario, following the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. He is currently serving as Executive Director for Artcite Inc. in Windsor, and as an Artist Educator and Workshop Facilitator with Arts Can Teach Windsor-Essex. He was a commissioned poet and performer with the Omoluabi News Paper, produced by the Nigerian Canadians for Cultural Educational and Economic Progress as part of the Black Youth Action Plan. Travis facilitates workshops on poetry, hand drumming, meditation, and personal development. He is also the founder and administrator for The Bloomfield House – a Sandwich Town community collective dedicated to grass roots community-run outreach with a mission to provide a safe and accessible space for human growth through community outreach.
Travis is a current board member with the Friends of the Court at Mackenzie Hall, and with Literary Arts Windsor and Artist-Run Centres and Collectives of Ontario. He previously served on the boards for the Windsor Youth Centre, and Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women. He received the Windsor Endowment for the Arts award for Arts Leadership in the Literary Arts, and the Arts Infrastructure Award, and was presented with a Community Leadership Award by the Province of Ontario. Travis is a member of the Windsor Storytellers Collective, an alumina of the Sandwich Teen Action Group, and the Our West End Round Table, to name a few of his affiliations.
As a spoken word artist, Travis turned his family’s story into a piece of performance art titled Born Enslaved: A Freedom Story. He later used that work as an educational tool, and continues to go into schools to provide workshops for both students and teachers. Over the years, Travis has worked as a storyteller with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, 4th Wall Music, Destination Ontario, the University of Windsor, Urban Farmhouse Press, Greater Essex County District School Board, Charles Wright Museum in Detroit, Freedom Museum in Amherstburg, and with Windsor Endowment for the Arts Changing the Odds program.
As Windsor’s first Multicultural Community Storyteller, Travis plans to build on the work he is already doing as a storyteller in the community. He plans to collaborate with local and regional literary arts organizations, food entrepreneurs, educational institutions, and more, using his unique tools to bring our community together through shared stories.
“Coming from, and being raised within a tradition of storytelling, I carry a responsibility and passion for collecting, inspiring, and encouraging the community to identify and celebrate their unique stories," Travis said. "I’m privileged to have been able to dig into the roots of my family story, excavating the layers of my ancestral diversity and complexity, but more enriching is the opportunity I’ve had to share it with others. The great ancestor Maya Angelou wrote, ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’ We live in a beautifully diverse community that represents the many cultures of the world, but to this day we are mostly siloed and surrounded by the familiar. We don’t listen to the stories of our neighbours and so we don’t always know how to relate and respect them. Storytelling is the key, and that is what I will bring to the role.”
The selection committee remarked, “Teajai Travis is very focused, understands the requirements of a storyteller, and is the living-embodiment of what the role of Multicultural Community Storyteller should be. He celebrates diversity and storytelling for all ages and has lived experience in Windsor-Essex that details how he is already delivering in the role. He works in our schools, he has worked with other artists on our international border, and he understands the importance of tapping into the elders in our community who can share and pass on our rich history. He brings a multi-generational (youth, family, seniors, long term care) approach, passion, and new and innovative ideas. He understands the art of engagement and how to work with diverse community groups. Mr. Travis commands attention, and understands history is important as part of storytelling, and the education value that has.”
Works Shared During Term
A Body of Stories
; written for and performed at Windsor's 130th birthday celebration, May 2022.