Percy Hatfield MPP, Windsor-Tecumseh

Government of Ontario

First Poet Laureate of Ontario announced following MPP Hatfield's bill

Published on April 28, 2021

QUEEN'S PARK — Randell Adjei of Scarborough has been selected as Ontario’s first Poet Laureate following Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield's private member’s bill to establish the role in memory of the late, iconic Canadian poet and singer Gord Downie. 
 
“I welcome Randell Adjei as Ontario’s first Poet Laureate”, said Hatfield, “As Gord Downie wrote, ‘it’s been a long time running, it’s a long time in coming, it’s well worth the wait.’ 
 
“Randell Adjei is a great communicator and will excite and motivate audiences in all corners of the province with his enthusiasm for the written and spoken word.” 
 
Hatfield had the honour of announcing Adjei’s appointment Wednesday at Queen’s Park.
 
A spoken word poet, motivational speaker, and coach in the Toronto Public Library’s Poetry Saved Our Lives program, Adjei will serve a two-year term with an office in Queen’s Park; when public health restrictions lift, he will travel the province to raise the profile of Ontario’s poets and take part in poetry readings and educational workshops.
 
Adjei was a lead consultant in developing the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy and is executive and creative director at RISE Edutainment, an organization that empowers BIPOC youth in the Greater Toronto Area to create meaningful art rooted in self-knowledge and self-expression.
 
Hatfield's bill to establish a Poet Laureate in Ontario received Royal Assent in December 2019, in memory of the influential poet, singer, activist and frontman of quintessential Canadian band The Tragically Hip, who passed away in 2017.  
 
“The Poet Laureate Bill is a means of paying tribute to and keeping alive the memory of Gord Downie for his major contribution to the arts scene in Canada and beyond,” said Hatfield. 
 
The Committee to select Ontario’s first Poet Laureate was chaired by Speaker of the Legislature Ted Arnott and included legislative librarian Vicki Whitmell; Rita Davies, chair of the board at the Ontario Arts Council; and board member David Tsubouchi, a former MPP and cabinet minister. Their work was assisted by Downie’s daughter Willo Downie.
 
Randell has worked with school boards in the GTA to weave arts into the curricula. He has performed spoken word poetry around the world, including opening for former American President Barack Obama.  
 
Randell’s 2018 poetry collection I Am Not My Struggles highlights resilience in the face of adversity and the power of transforming pain to strength and beauty