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HomeDiversity in DurhamRon Fanfair: 40 years of storytelling excellence in the Black community

Ron Fanfair: 40 years of storytelling excellence in the Black community

Ron Fanfair had always envisioned a career in the arts. He never felt confident in math or science in school. His dream took shape after one conversation over lunch, which set him on a path that would shape the next 40 years of his life as a storyteller sharing the journeys of people in the Black community.

Growing up in Guyana in the 1970s, Fanfair was surrounded by a media landscape dominated by just two main radio broadcast stations: the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and Radio Demerara.

“There was no TV at the time,” he said, “it was strictly regional. So, we all listened to radio, that’s how we got the news, or through the newspapers.”

When he was 18, he found himself sharing a meal with a GBC employee, during which he expressed his interest and his aspiration to enter sports journalism. During the conversation, the employee offered him a tour of the station.

“I took up his offer, went down, got to meet some of the reporters, some well-known names that you heard on the radio,” he said. “And that was how I got my start.”

Fanfair started as a part-time reporter at the network, and he worked there for seven years, eventually becoming deputy sports editor. In 1983, he received recognition for the work he was doing on the air.

“So, one year, [in] 1983, I won the Sports Journalists of the Year award,” Fanfair said. “And back then, that was a big deal, you know, for me, because it was the first time that I had gotten recognition for anything.

“At least it told me that I am doing something good.”

In June 1985, he married Des Fanfair, and the pair moved to Canada the month after.

When Fanfair arrived, he said it was “tough for the start.” He knew he wanted to continue journalism, but his first job in the country was full-time factory work.

“You realize you got to start at the bottom to get where you want. And I was willing to make that sacrifice… [and] things worked out,” he said.

A few months after arriving in Canada, Fanfair said he learned about Share News, a newspaper for the Black and West Indian community. He said he met the publisher and got his first assignment the same day. He has freelanced with Share ever since.

“Share was pretty clear. We’re not interested in doing crime because the mainstream media did do that,” Fanfair said. “But we’re going to cover stories with people in the Black community, they’re excelling, and I love that. I would be covering four and five events on a weekend just going to community events.”

Fanfair said Share gave him the opportunity to continue doing what he loves, telling stories, but it didn’t pay well enough for him to support his family. He had two sons, Earvin and Dewayne, and a daughter, Keisha, to support. Fanfair said he has always kept a full-time job while freelancing.

Keisha Fanfair, 30, said as a child, she didn’t understand the work her dad was doing.

“Well, maybe as a kid you think, sometimes you may want him to be at more basketball games or more events,” she said. “But as an adult you really understand when you see the impact that he’s had over the years.

“Now, you know, balancing my time with my full-time job and other the things that I want to do outside of it is very tricky. It’s like, man, how did you guys even make time? How did you make time to still take us places and do things with us?”

Keisha works full-time and is a three-time Juno-nominated rapper, performing as Keysha Freshh. She has also managed her dad’s social media accounts for the last four years to help him expand his reach.

She said she remembers going to events with her dad “most weekends” and seeing how the community respected him.

“They were often educational or often [sic] meeting people who were high impact and who are lauded as community leaders like Jean Augustine and Justice Donald McLeod,” she said.

Jean Augustine is the first Black woman MP in Canada and introduced the federal motion to make February Black History Month in 1995. Justice McLeod is the first Black judge to have graduated from Queen’s University and the founder of the Federation of Black Canadians. Fanfair shared stories about Augustine’s lifetime achievements and McLeod’s founding of the FBC.

“These are community leaders and people who are really valued in the community. And they’re people who really hold my dad in high regard,” Keisha said. “So, you know, going to events and seeing them and getting to meet them and just be in those spaces was very, very, very informative.”

Keisha said she is proud of her dad’s work.

“It’s really cool that he is so dedicated to the Caribbean community, the West Indian community, the Black community and telling those stories,” she said. “Anytime I go somewhere, people always say, ‘Your dad is a legend.’

“The impact is very evident, and people are always talking about it and telling me and reminding him of the impact that he has.”

Since Keisha took over managing his social media, Fanfair said he’s had more impressions and impact with his stories.

“I mean, some stories get 2000 impressions,” he said. There was one story I did it had 90,000 impressions about.”

A screenshot of the website,, with the logo at the top and four featured stories.
A capture of Ron Fanfair's website, taken on March 28. Fanfair has written stories about the Black community for the past 40 years. While maintaining a full-time job, he's published stories every two days on his site and in Share. Photo credit: Andrew Neary

But for Fanfair, it isn’t about the awards or recognition, he said he loves what he does, sharing stories other outlets and reporters don’t have the “latitude” to go after.

“That’s just a love and passion for storytelling,” he said. “These are stories that the mainstream media would not be telling, and these are good stories, ‘Who is doing well in the Black community?’”

And after sharing stories for decades, Fanfair said he is proud to see the progress of the people he’s covered.

“What gives me a lot of pride now is a lot of those young people that I covered about 30 or 40 years ago doing extremely well,” he said. “I mean, Dr. Everton Gooden, I met him almost 25, 30 years ago. He’s the president and CEO of North York General Hospital. Just the second Black person to attain the position. I was covering him just as he came to university.

“A lot of the young kids who I covered back in the day, they’re doing extremely well. That gives me a lot of joy, a lot of pleasure. That’s what makes it special. I mean, and that’s why I enjoy telling the stories because I know most of the time, you’re not going to see them anywhere [else].”