GO double decker bus wrapped for Black History Month with art designed by Alexis Eke


Metrolinx employees embody Black history

Transit staff bring diverse experiences to work in the name of helping customers & communities.

Feb 15, 2024

Jivaro Smith is from one of the oldest Black communities in Canada.

And you might be surprised to hear it’s not in Ontario.

Smith hails from North Preston, Nova Scotia. Not only one of the oldest, but also the community with the highest percentage of Black people, making up nearly 70 per cent of the town’s population.

He left the Atlantic behind and now calls the shores of Lake Ontario home – as a GO Transit Station Ambassador, he’s helping customers find their way in one of the most multicultural cities in the world.

But he hasn’t forgotten the importance of where he came from.

“My family's roots run deep in Canada, spanning six to seven generations back to the 1800’s,” says Smith.

Black History month employee profiles

Jivaro Smith works for GO Transit as a Station Ambassador and comes from one of the oldest Black communities in Canada - North Preston, Nova Scotia. (Metrolinx photo)

Smith says he’s been fortunate to hear firsthand accounts of Black achievements passed down through the generations.

“I’ve learned about the rich history of the all-black hockey league in Nova Scotia, the Jamaican immigrants who constructed the fortress in Citadel Hill in Halifax, and the individuals who sought refuge in Canada through the Underground Railroad,” Smith adds.  

Smith is an essential part of Metrolinx’s team of diverse frontline staff. But Smith notes diversity is just as important in leadership positions.

“Seeing Black employees in leadership positions, reassures me that diverse perspectives are not only welcomed, but also valued here,” he says.



Three decades of frontline service

Donna Fraser has worked at GO Transit and Metrolinx for more than 30 years.

She’s seen a lot in her time serving customers and communities of all walks of life.

But one thing that hasn’t changed for her is the commitment to helping people.

“We strive to be approachable, ensuring that customers feel comfortable reaching out to us for assistance without hesitation or fear,” Fraser says, a long-time Customer Protection Officer.

She says being a Black woman in uniform has allowed her to have open and honest conversations with everyone from curious kids to sceptical adults.

“I forge meaningful connections within my community and those who look like me by fostering feelings of safety and belonging,” she says.

Donna Fraser Black History Month photo

Donna Fraser (far left), stands with her colleagues at a Metrolinx event. (Metrolinx image)

Fraser says Black History Month holds a special place in her heart because it’s something she didn’t grow up learning about, but rather is exploring in adulthood.

In fact, she only recently learned one of her relatives played an important role in promoting Black history in the Hamilton area.

“Discovering these stories instills a profound sense of pride in me and it’s become a focus for me this year,” Fraser says.

“It's important for me to share this pride with my children and reinforce that Black history is an integral part of our collective history. We have always been here.”

GO double decker bus wrapped for Black History Month with art designed by Alexis Eke

A look at the art to be featured on the special edition Black History Month GO Bus, coming to a station near you. (Art by Alexis Eke)

Black history all year round

Andrew Ross loves helping people, it’s one of the reasons he’s been doing it for so long.

Since starting with Metrolinx in 2001, he’s worn a lot of different hats.

He’s worked the phones in the call centre, manned the ticket wicket as a Station Ambassador and now helps customers in a variety of ways as a Revenue Protection Officer.

It’s an action-packed role to say the least.

On any given day, he could be helping customers find their way, checking fares, or assisting customers during medical emergencies, Ross has a lot on his plate.

Black History month employee profiles

Andrew Ross has been helping transit customers with Metrolinx for more than 13 years. (Metrolinx photo)

As a Black Revenue Protection Officer with both Trinidadian and Grenadian roots, Ross says he’s seen firsthand how embodying the diverse community he serves positively impacts passengers.

“People feel more at ease talking to me about their concerns because they see someone who looks like them,” he adds.

Metrolinx is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment both for staff, but also for customers and communities.

Ross sees that commitment come to life everyday in his work.

“Our commitment to diversity and inclusion contributes to a more inclusive environment where different cultures and communities are valued and respected,” Ross says.

And it goes deeper than that.

Ross says this commitment has even allowed him to have deeper conversations with young people.

“Getting to help them see things differently and guiding them toward a better path,” he says.

“It’s fulfilling when these individuals remember our interactions and express gratitude for the personal connection and guidance.”

by Chisanga Mwamba Metrolinx communications senior advisor, Scott Money Metrolinx editorial content manager