In honour of Black History Month, we wanted to highlight some Black-owned businesses, stores, studios, and artists around Montreal that we thought you all might enjoy. Montreal is home to over a quarter of Canada's Black population, and Black people living in Quebec represent about 180 different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. We are so lucky to have such a diversity of cultures in this city, and it's important to spread the love so that diversity can grow and thrive! Small and local businesses need our support now more than ever, and a great way to do that is to give them our business. This is obviously not an exhaustive list, just a few that may suit a student's interests and price range!
1. Cuisine Lakay Lola
A Montreal-based Haitian woman named Lola has been showcasing Haitain cuisine in Montreal since just 2018, but her store became instantly popular! Her mission is to "promote Haitian culture through cuisine to give everyone the opportunity to experience Haiti's uniqueness, richness, and heritage." The store is in the Saint-Laurent borough of the city, and features snacks, spreads, cakes, sweets, beverages, spices, and more! She also sells hand creams, balms sanatizers, and candles. Her website features traditional Haitian recipes, and she hosts her own cooking workshops! Cuisine Lakay Lola offers pick-up and local delivery if you order online through the website, and free shipping for orders over $80.
This online store is co-founded by Renee-Alexandria, a Montreal-based mom who struggled to find backpacks or lunchbags with any images of black or brown children when she shopped for her own child. So, she created them herself for men, women, and kids! BLK-ED makes cruelty-free and eco-friendly, custom products featuring hand-drawn designs by local artists of colour. You can find handbags, shoulder bags, wallets, clutches, lunchbags, backpacks, and cosmetic bags. These items are made using materials like vegan leather, and are easy to clean, water-repellent, and durable! BLK-ED wants to support as many artists as possible, so once they sell out of an item, it won't be restocked. But that just means that each item is totally unique! It also means they work super fast, so your order will be shipped the same day you make it!
3. Burger de Ville
Next up is a family-owned business run by a father-son team! You may recognize Burger de Ville if you hang out in the Plateau, and they have a second location open in Saint-Leonard. They make high quality and affordable comfort foods like burgers, sandwiches, spicy fries and poutine. They also have soups and salads, and all their soups, dressings, and sauces are made fresh in-house daily! All of the meat they cook is locally sourced and always fresh, never frozen. Their french fries are hand-cut and cooked in peanut oil, which makes them extra tasty but also extra allergenic so be careful if you have allergies! Both takeout and delivery are available, so you can always satisty your cravings!
Maliciouz is a painter and muralist from Montreal of Haitian descent. She has painted murals all over the city, which are recognized for their bursting colors and often feature women of color. Maliciouz has served as a panelist for conferences at Concordia, McGill, and Sherbrooke Universities, and has been featured at numerous galleries. Her goal is to share her vision of "Afro-Futurism the graffiti culture, and the place of women and Black people in Quebec society and in the arts." You can support her by purchasing something from her website which features books, posters, prints, stickers, and clothing (including face masks) featuring her artwork!
5. Studio Corpus
For all you yogis out there, this one's for you! Studio Corpus, with locations in Hochelaga and Verdun, has curated a zero-judgement environment welcome to all levels of ability! They offer online and in-person yoga, pilates, and other fitness classes. In-person classes are covid-conscious and socially distanced, and are private or semi-private. Studio Corpus offers a range of memberships, starting at free classes, $17.50 for any course "a la carte", $45 for 30 virtual classes and more! They also sell a variety of resistance bands for your at-home practices.
Plantago is on a mission to make exotic vegetables more accessible in Quebec! Their Montreal-based founder, Sherley, was inspired by her mother's ability to find vegetables like plaintains and cassava in the rare exotic grocery stores in the city. So, she launched her business in November 2008, featuring simple and healthy ready-to-cook foods like sweet and savory plantain slices and cassava sticks. All of Plantago's products are natural, gluten-free, and made in Quebec with local suppliers! You can try them out for yourselves by ordering online, or look for them in grocery stores!
7. Mr. Patty
This is one of the best places to get Jamaican patties on the island! Mr. Patty Bakery is located in NDG only a short walk away from Concordia's Loyola campus. If you've never had a Jamaican patty, they're made with a flaky, buttery turmeric dough and stuffed with a protein filling that's been simmered in spicy goodness. Mr. Patty has meat and meatless options, is super affordable, and open for takeout. They also make soups, rotis, desserts, and other Caribbean dishes like jerk chicken, jerk pork, oxtail, and curried goat!
8. Maquis Yasolo Exotic Delicatessen and Restaurant
Last, but certainly not least, is a "Quebecois store with African origins". Maquis Yasolo is a store in Saint-Henri featuring traditional African food items like preserves, spices, rices, meats and other proteins, and beverages! You'll find both locally-sourced items from Quebec and items imported from Europe and Africa. Maquis Yasolo also has a restaurant that serves traditional African cuisine. They're famous for their smoked chicken, but they offer vegan options too! You can order their food for takeout or delivery on Uber Eats, and you can buy their store products for delivery too! And they offer free shipping for orders over $75!
But wait! There's so much more! Check out these links: