Image shows the bus wrap.

Metrolinx unveils GO Transit bus wrap honouring Canada’s First Lady of the Blues as part of Black History Month

Salome Bey paved the way for many Black performers and now, the memory of the award-winning singer-songwriter and honorary member of the Order of Canada, is about to hit the road on a commemorative GO bus wrap.

Known as Canada’s First Lady of the Blues, Salome Bey is one of the country’s most celebrated musicians of her time.

This year, Metrolinx is celebrating her journey through the creative arts by making her a part of GO bus trips.

Bey will be the focus of Metrolinx’s celebrations for Black History Month in February. Her image is part of a special edition GO Transit bus that will travel the Greater Golden Horseshoe and is also featured as part of a mural being installed inside Union Station’s Bay Concourse.

A close up of the new bus wrap inspired by Salome Bey.
Keep an eye out for the special edition GO bus on the streets across the region. (Metrolinx Photo)

“To see my mother celebrated like this is incredibly moving,” says her daughter SATE, a musician who goes by a single name.

“She was an inspiration to so many and I’m so glad people will now get to see her on the road and inside Union Station.”

Born in 1933 in Newark, N.J., Bey found success in Canada with her soulful voice and talents in theatre.

She settled in Toronto in the 1960s and would go on to become a prominent actress, a playwright and a director of musicals while breaking ground in Canada by creating theatre opportunities for Black artists.

Salome Bey died on Aug. 8, 2020 in Toronto, at the age of 86 but her legacy lives on.

The bus wrap and mural were designed by Mark Stoddart, a local artist, who decided to use newsprint style to tell the story of a woman who made a significant impact and contribution to society.

A close up of the new bus wrap inspired by Salome Bey.
A close up of the new bus wrap inspired by Salome Bey. (Metrolinx photo)

The mural is being installed later this week (Feb. 1) inside the GO Bay Concourse at Union Station and will be featured next week on Metrolinx News.

“She is a huge part of the tapestry of our country and I had the honor of meeting her 15 years ago to show her one of my paintings,” recalls Stoddart, who previously designed the GO bus wrap for the Caribbean Carnival.

“I’ve always taken pride in educating others about significant individuals within our community and telling stories of those whose history may not be known.”

According to Stoddart, Bey was much more than just an artist. She was a trailblazer and an activist, her dedication to her craft and her love for the Black community would inspire generations after her.

Artist Mark Stoddard working on the design for the bus wrap.
Artist Mark Stoddart working on the design for the bus wrap. (Mark Stoddart Photo)

“Black History Month is our opportunity as a region to honour Salome Bey, one of the countless Black Canadians who has made an impact in our cities and our country,” says Karla Avis-Birch, Chief Planning Officer and member of the transit agency’s Black Employees Experience at Metrolinx Employees Resource Group (BEEAM).

“The mural and bus wrap will not only spark a conversation, but it will help our customers learn more about Salome Bey, what she’s done and what she represents.”

Metrolinx President and CEO Phil Verster says the transit agency is proud to serve a wide range of communities throughout the region.

Getting ready to hit the road – the specially wrapped GO bus for Black History Month at Union Station Bus Terminal (Metrolinx Photo)

“For Black History Month, it is important for us to use our voice to amplify and celebrate the impact and influence of the Black community,” Verster says.

“These are top priorities for us and celebrating Black History Month is just one of the many ways we are working towards creating more meaningful and greater connection with our employees, our customers, and the communities we serve.”

Metrolinx’s theme for this the month’s commemoration is dubbed ‘Black History’s Creative Journey,’ a fitting theme for a transit agency.

Story by Nitish Bissonauth, Metrolinx bilingual spokesperson, media relations advisor.