Humans of Downsview: Nathan Baya, the leader behind Jane Street Speaks

Nathan Baya is an active community member who is behind the initiative Jane Street Speaks – a platform that “provides local artists with an opportunity to express themselves and shine their light.” 

Nathan was born in Toronto and grew up in the Jane and Finch area. His parents immigrated to Canada from Congo; “I take great pride in my African routes and I’m happy I was born in the talented city of Toronto.”

When asked why he started Jane Street Speaks he shared that it’s because he struggled to get booked as a local artist. So he began putting on his own events to showcase his talent.

“I wanted to create a platform where I could provide the same opportunities for local artists from my neighborhood who struggled to get gigs as well.” 

The events he organizes are all about self-expression through art and using art as a way to heal from traumas experienced in life. “I either have events where I showcase specific local talents from the city or I put on an open mic where the community gets the opportunity to come sign up, perform and show the people what they got.”

Jane Street Speaks has been very successful at doing just that, however Nathan expresses that his biggest accomplishment is “not letting anything stop me. Life is not easy and not everyone is supportive of the path of being an artist. But, music and chasing my dreams is in my blood so I could never stop!” 

When I asked him what motivates him and how he finds the inspiration to continue being an artist, Nathan attributes this to his daughter. “I wanna be somebody that she can look up to when she starts chasing her dreams as motivation to never quit and always live in your truth.” 

Nathan’s initiative has been well received in the community, Jane Street Speaks puts together live performances,food and clothing drives for the homeless, workshops for youth and community events.

The work is necessary – Nathan shares,  “When people don’t get the opportunity to express themselves and heal from their traumas they suffer in silence. Why do that? We can come together as a community and heal from our traumas through the power of self expression.”

Nathan created a popular slogan that has been turned into t-shirts and other merchandise seen around Jane and Finch. The slogan: “Support Local Before Global ” is self-explanatory and reminds artists the only way to be global is through community support. It sums up the heart of his initiative. 

“I love this community it’s filled with so many talented individuals who are doing incredible power moves in the city of Toronto and who are changing the narrative everyday about members who come from the Jane and Finch/Downsview community.”

Catch Nathan’s next project titled “Journey to Fatherhood.” Follow @janestreetspeaks_ on instagram for more details. 

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