'This belonged to my father': 6 Black creatives talk about the things their dads passed down to them

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

Father's Day has always been a sensitive day for me. I grew up watching the majority of my friends have both parents and always felt sad when this day came around because I didn't celebrate it with my father. I would call my mom's dad and say “Happy Grandfather's Day,” but it never filled the void. I really yearned for an actual father figure. When my father, who lived in Jamaica full time, started coming back to Toronto more often when I was in middle school, he became more familiar with his family and children here. I began to see him more often and connect more with my Jamaican family. From the time he re-entered my life until his passing, I'd still think back and wish that in those crucial years of my childhood, I could have had a closer relationship to my Black family and my father. 

Everyone's story is different, not everyone is as fortunate as I was. I believe in discussing true relationships without sugar coating them, which clashes with the idea that father's day is a celebratory day for all. There are so many broken families who have lost their fathers, or for many other reasons don't have their fathers in their lives. But I still think celebrating and being grateful for the positive influences of our fathers and father figures is important, whether they're still with us or not. 

“This Belonged To My Father” is a series of photographs I took, highlighting six Black creatives in Toronto, including myself. Everyone shared a favourite item passed down to them by their father and answered my questions about the items and more. This series is a celebration of the positive influences they've had on us — no matter how involved they've been in our lives or for how long. 

In this time of action that is spurred by the killing of George Floyd, I'd like to dedicate this project to his memory, and to the memory of all Black fathers and father figures unjustly taken away.

Sandrine Somé

Instagram: @santreezy

“I work as a social media strategist and art director for a cannabis company and do freelance branding and photography on the side.”

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

This belonged to my father…

A book my dad wrote about our village Ténugle (Burkina Faso) and family history. 

What's your favourite item your father passed down to you and why is it important to you? 

My favourite item that my dad passed on to me is his book. I got it in January while I was visiting family and it completely opened up my world and filled in a lot of missing gaps. I think that to know where you're going it is important to understand your past. It gave me much needed context on my ancestors, African spirituality and a deeper appreciation of the beauty in Burkinabé customs and traditions. 

When I think of my father I think of…

… community.

He loves entertaining! Every time I visit him back home we're constantly surrounded by friends, family, his colleagues and acquaintances from dusk till dawn. He's the guy that everyone in the village knows and can go to when they need a hand or just want to chat.  

What life lessons or advice did your father teach you that you still hold onto to this day? 

As a linguist by trade, my dad spends his time pouring over history and forgotten dialects. Because of this, he's always taught me to be curious about everything, which I consider to be one of my best traits. I make it a priority to try new things and explore different ways of being, instead of boxing myself into a single category. The more curious I am the more empathetic I become. 

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

Cason Sharpe

Twitter: @casonsharpe

“I'm a writer.”

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

This belonged to my father…

An old shirt featuring an illustration of activist Dudley Laws.

What's your favourite item your father passed down to you and why is it important to you?   

My father passed away when I was in my early twenties, so I inherited a lot of his possessions pretty young. Some items have become more important to me over time. My current favourite is this old cut-off t-shirt featuring Dudley Laws, who fought against police brutality in Toronto in the '70s and '80s. It's a bittersweet reminder of the city's Black activist history, which I'm proud my father was a part of.

When I think of my father I think of…

His style. He used to get mad at me for raiding his wardrobe when I was a teen, but I couldn't help myself. He had all these treasures — suede vests, leather berets, batik button-downs. He always took his shirts to the dry cleaners, had his hair cut regularly, and removed his stubble with Magic Shave.

What life lessons or advice did your father teach you that you still hold onto to this day?

Don't worry about what everybody else is doing. Eat everything on your plate and do the dishes right away. Don't trust politicians — they're all crooks.

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

Karim Olen Ash

Instagram: @karimolenash

“I'm a DJ and event producer focusing on providing space and opportunities for BIPOC + Queer artists in the electronic music and nightlife industry.”

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

This belonged to my father…

This poster of Bob Marley.

What's your favourite item your father passed down to you and why is it important to you?  

My father gave me this poster of Bob Marley when I first moved out on my own at 21. It has been a sacred item for me and it sits in my house in a shrine like position. It's a constant reminder of the values of peace, love and unity that not only were intrinsic to Bob Marley but also the same values my father passed on to me. I also don't have any pictures of my father in my house so seeing it is a reminder of him and the sacrifices he made as an immigrant to allow me the privilege to live the life that I do.

When I think of my father I think of…

His ability to light up the room. His ability to make people laugh. I think of resiliency. He wasn't handed anything growing up and it's what I can attribute to the part of me that enjoys working hard.

What life lessons or advice did your father teach you that you still hold onto to this day? 

Both of my parents instilled this in me but my father in particular has been very independent, and that's something I grew up watching and most definitely picked up. Also, on the more practical side, he taught me how to ride a bike lol. 

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

Rahnell Branton

Instagram/twitter: @rahsthetics

“I am a freelance Makeup Artist & I've been doing this for just over five years now.”

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

This belonged to my father…

The items I have here are a Steel Pan that was given to me years and years ago, a necklace [not pictured], as well as a Calabash purse [not pictured], all from Trinidad. 

What's your favourite item your father passed down to you and why is it important to you?  

I think my favourite thing my father has passed down, besides the love of sound, is all these pieces really. They are reminders of my culture and the people I came from, reminds me of my grandmother and her cooking, as well as the Parang or soca music playing as I'd be eating. It's important to me because as I've gotten older my culture has begun to mean a lot to me and because I've only been to Trinidad once — I guess I felt distanced so these things help me feel close. 

When I think of my father I think of…

Sometimes when I think of my father I think about my childhood and how blind I was as a young girl. I loved my dad so much and looked forward to seeing him all the time and playing and spending time with him. I thought he was the best, but now when I think of my father it's with disappointment. The younger me, who believed he was someone else, is very disappointed.

What life lessons or advice did your father teach you that you still hold onto to this day? 

There's a specific time my father and I were walking through the mall. He'd always see people he knew and once, after seeing someone, he turned to me and said, “Don't trust anybody… not even me.” As recent events have unfolded this statement shakes me more and more because he explained that anyone… can turn on you. You have to hold yourself down and never put it past someone to disrespect you. The “not even me” is crazy because, to me, it was a moment of foreshadowing that neither one of us was aware of. 

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

O'shane Howard

Instagram: @oshane.howard

“[I'm a] photographer, videographer, and creative director that specializes in shooting commercial, editorial, and product work.”

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

This belonged to my father… 


What's your favourite item your father has passed down to you and why is it important to you? 

This sweater is from the '90s which is pretty cool, but it holds more importance knowing it came from my father.

When I think of my father I think of…

Compassionate and loving.

What life lessons or advice did your father teach you that you still hold onto to this day?

What my father has taught me throughout his life experiences is that you aren't free until you forgive.

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

Jacqueline Ashton

Instagram: @goodgyaljj

“I'm a photographer currently based out of Toronto, I focus mostly on capturing diverse female-identifying subjects, displaying intimate moments of confidence and natural beauty. I am also a model, curator, creative collaborator and music enthusiast!”

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

This belonged to my father…

A Minolta 5000 

What's your favourite item your father has passed down to you and why is it important to you? 

My favourite item my father passed down to me is my very first film camera, a Minolta 5000, that he bought at a garage sale for really cheap. I've been using it ever since and it's been an integral part of my growing journey as a photographer. It's really important to me because with that camera I actually started practicing shooting, which is ultimately one of the main reasons that led me to becoming a photographer. I still use it on certain shoots to this day and it will always remind me of him. 

When I think of my father I think of…

Jamaica, his house in the mountains, the beach, the tropical landscape and yummy Jamaican food. I also think of the singer Sade and my dad's music taste in general. As my father passed away two years ago June 26th, I also think of the few very special moments we shared. I definitely had a better relationship with him within the last seven years, throughout my young adulthood. I think of his laugh, his comic verbal expressions, his face and how much I looked like him. And his style — flat caps/baseball hats, a gold wrist bracelet and a gold ring. I also think of the movie Little Miss Sunshine, which was randomly one of his favourite movies, and banana bread, which he loved. 

What life lessons or advice did your father teach you that you still hold onto to this day? 

My dad was really ambitious, mysterious, funny and stubborn. He always encouraged me to be creative, which I've embraced. Also, I recognized that having more than one interest or career goal shouldn't be seen as a bad thing, he had a variety of ventures which led him to meet a lot of people in his community and have a lot of different life experiences. My dad also showed me a lot about healthy eating and showed me how important your health is because it truly is a blessing. 

@santreezy, @casonsharpe, @karimolenash, @rahsthetics, @oshane.howard, @goodgyaljj

News Related


Britney Spears got locked in her bathroom and fans think it's a metaphor for her conservatorship

Britney Spears has detailed her experience getting locked in her bathroom and fans are convinced it’s a metaphor for her conservatorship. The “Hit Me Baby One More Time” singer is ... Read more »

Belarusian border guards pick up injured migrants, expelled from Lithuania

According to the border guards, "the foreigners bore traces of violence resulting from the use of firearms and police dog bites" Read more »

Bill Murray says 19th-century French painting helped him when he was struggling suicidal thoughts

Bill Murray at a photocall for ‘New Worlds: The Cradle Of Civilization’ during the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival on 16 July 2021 (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images) Bill Murray says ... Read more »

Russian Embassy in Paris resumes issuing visas to French citizens, press service says

It emphasized that the visas are issued to the citizens of France and third countries, as well as to those without citizenship who have permanent residence in the country with the supporting documents Read more »

Love Island receives highest number of Ofcom complaints in show's history for ‘misleading' Casa Amor postcard

Love Island received its highest ever number of Ofcom complaints in response to the infamous and “misleading” Casa Amor postcard. Last week (28 July), the contestants were split into two ... Read more »

Mara Wilson speaks out in defence of Britney Spears: ‘She needs to be able to live her life for herself'

Mara Wilson has shown her support for Britney Spears amid the pop star’s ongoing conservatorship battle. The Matilda star is the latest celebrity to speak out for Spears, as she ... Read more »

Rihanna is officially a billionaire, Forbes says – and the world's richest female musician

Rihanna is officially a billionaire, and subsequently the wealthiest female musician in the world. According to Forbes, Rihanna is now worth $1.7 billion (£1.2 billion), primarily thanks to the value ... Read more »

Japan sets new record high for daily coronavirus infections

The previous record high was registered at the end of July — then over 10,500 new infections were detected Read more »

Zola movie: Read the epic true story behind the new film

Zola is the film inspired by a wild Twitter thread that went viral in 2015. That year, Twitter thread by user @_zolarmoon published a string of posts that detailed an ... Read more »

BTS star addresses group's shift to making music in English: ‘Language doesn't matter to us like it did in the past'

BTS have announced that they will keep releasing more English-language music, claiming that language “doesn’t matter” to them like it “used to”. The South Korean boy band composed of Jin, ... Read more »

“Black Widow” and Norway's role in the MCU (spoiler warning)

Norway is no stranger to appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Black Widow (2021) is the latest Marvel movie to hit the big screen. Its initial release was July ... Read more »

First Dates' Fred Sirieix celebrates as daughter Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix competes at the Olympics

First Dates star Fred Sirieix has celebrated as his daughter Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix competed for the first time at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Aged just 16, Spendolini-Sirieix is the youngest member ... Read more »

Delta COVID-19 variant widening its spread to 135 countries — WHO

From July 26 to August 1, the global COVID-19 incidence climbed by 3% with more than 4 mln new cases documented Read more »

Moscow hospitals treat 455 COVID-19 patients on lung ventilators, fewest since June 14

The highest value over the past two months, according to an infographic posted on the center’s Telegram channel, was registered on July 5 Read more »

James Corden got cast in a movie musical, again. Film fans have had enough

Yesterday (3 August), the public was given its first look at James Corden in the live action musical Cinderella. Reactions to Corden’s appearance in the newly released trailer were mixed, ... Read more »

Jed Mercurio yells at journalist over Line of Duty question: ‘It just feels like this is clickbait now'

Writer Jed Mercurio shouted at a journalist who asked him whether the most recent series of Line of Duty had been its last, according to a new interview. There’s been ... Read more »

Jodie Comer: Man arrested in France over alleged threats to come to UK and murder Killing Eve star

A man has been arrested in France after threatening to travel to the UK and kill actor Jodie Comer. The Killing Eve star first contacted the police in June after ... Read more »

Lord of the Rings: Silmarillion fans lose minds after spotting Trees of Valinor in new Amazon series

Lord of the Rings fans are in a frenzy after spotting a never-before-seen location in the first image from Amazon’s new series. Earlier this week, the streaming service released the ... Read more »

Love Island 2021 review: This villa is overpopulated; let's send some people packing

Just when we thought things were finally getting good, we were condemned to another subpar episode of Love Island. The whole 65 minutes felt more like an instalment of Unseen ... Read more »

TRNSMT festival confirmed to take place in September

Liam Gallagher is one of the headliners for TRNSMT festival 2021 (Getty Images for MTV) The organiser of music festival TRNSMT has confirmed the event will go ahead in September. ... Read more »

Piers Morgan hints at return to TV five months after controversial Good Morning Britain exit

Piers Morgan has given fans a hint that he is planning on returning to TV in the near future. The presenter left his position as host of popular ITV talk ... Read more »

Kathy Griffin says lung surgery ‘went well' days after revealing cancer diagnosis

Kathy Griffin has updated fans on her health after revealing that she has been diagnosed with lung cancer. On Monday (2 August), the comedian announced on Twitter that she was ... Read more »

Putin, Bolivian president discuss cooperation in combating coronavirus pandemic

The conversation was held with due account of the agreement on supplies of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to Bolivia Read more »

Dave Bautista says he wasn't asked to play Guardians of the Galaxy character in new Marvel show

Dave Bautista has dropped a candid Disney revelation on Twitter. The actor, who plays Drax the Destroyer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), was asked why he was not voicing ... Read more »

Two dead as passenger trains collide in Czech Republic

Two people were killed and dozens injured as two passenger trains collided in the southwest of the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The crash occurred shortly after 8am local time in ... Read more »

Argentine company to produce 3 mln second doses of Sputnik V in August

RDIF and Richmond also announced that this week distribution of the vaccine made in Argentina will start on the territory of the republic, including 150,000 doses of the second component Read more »

Netflix users frustrated due to ending of Outer Banks season 2

Netflix users have been left extremely frustrated by the ending of Outer Banks. The teen mystery show returned for a second season on Friday (30 July), with many subscribers swiftly ... Read more »

Love Island viewers urge ITV2 to sway Millie from Liam after latest recoupling

Love Island viewers are urging ITV to step in to prevent Millie from staying with Liam. The latest episode of the ITV2 show saw Millie decide to recouple with Liam, ... Read more »

R Kelly finally admits to ‘underage sexual contact' with Aaliyah

R Kelly has finally admitted to having “underage sexual contact” with the late R&B singer Aaliyah. Kelly’s confession comes nearly three decades after the pair were alleged to have been ... Read more »

The Suicide Squad: BBFC responds to ‘shock' over film's age rating

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has explained its decision to give The Suicide Squad a 15 age rating following confusion from cinemagoers. Those who went to see James ... Read more »

The Mandalorian: Giancarlo Esposito gives fans update about season three

Giancarlo Esposito has given Star Wars fans an update on the progress of the third season of The Mandalorian. The acclaimed spin-off series sees Esposito play the villainous Moff Gideon, ... Read more »

Coen Brothers may never work together again, claims long-time composer

The Coen Brothers may never work together again after one of the Oscar-winning duo decided he “didn’t want to make movies anymore”, their long-time composer has claimed. Eyebrows were raised ... Read more »

Olly Murs shares update from hospital after fearing ‘the worst' following on-stage accident

Olly Murs shared an update from hospital with his fans (Instagram/Olly Murs) Olly Murs has shared an update from his hospital bed after undergoing surgery on his left leg, following ... Read more »

Jeremy Clarkson says people should get vaccinated as he clarifies ‘if you die, you die' Covid comments

Jeremy Clarkson has clarified that he still thinks people should get vaccinated after facing backlash for his comments about coronavirus. The former Top Gear presenter came under fire this week ... Read more »

Marvel theories: Mysterious Black Widow scene unlocked clue to return of MCU villain

Marvel fans think Black Widow unlocked a clue to the return of a Marvel villain. The film, starring Scarlett Johansson, is set before the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), in ... Read more »

Fetty Wap speaks out after daughter's death: ‘I love you to the moon and back'

Fetty Wap shared a tribute to his daughter after it emerged that she had died, aged four (Getty Images) Fetty Wap has paid a tribute to his daughter Lauren Maxwell ... Read more »

Taylor Swift shares powerful message for Simone Biles for Tokyo Olympics: ‘What do we want from our heroes?'

Taylor Swift appeared in a moving tribute to Olympian Simone Biles ahead of her return at this year’s games. The new promo video starred the Folklore artist as she narrated ... Read more »

Asphalt Princess: Hijackers have left vessel off UAE coast, says British navy group

The hijackers who seized a vessel off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman left the targeted ship on Wednesday, the British navy reported, without ... Read more »

The Offspring drummer claims he was kicked out after refusing to get Covid vaccine

The Offspring drummer Pete Parada has claimed he has been booted out of the US rock band after refusing to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The musician shared a series of ... Read more »

DaBaby dropped from more music festivals following third apology

File image: DaBaby performs during DaBaby + Friends Concert on 17 April 2021 (Getty Images for Interscope) DaBaby has been dropped from two more music festivals over homophobic comments he ... Read more »