Toronto Raptors President and Vice Chairman Masai Ujiri was on hand Wednesday morning to unveil a new public art installation outside of Union Station, titled Humanity.
The work, located on Front Street outside one of the station’s entrances, is composed of a large circular piece of art decorated with 35 words chosen by Ujiri to represent what humanity means to him.
Ujiri recently re-signed a deal to remain with the Raptors in August.
“Do you know why I’m staying here, why I love it here? It’s because of that diversity. I come to the games every day. I see people from everywhere,” Ujiri said at Wednesday’s unveiling. “It means the world to me, to walk out there and see everybody from all parts of the world. It means so much to us, to my family, to my kids, your kids, and the kids of the world.”
Ujiri also spoke about how he hopes the installation will draw attention to the needs of minority communities across Canada and the world.
“Black people need to be treated better,” Ujiri added. “Indigenous people need to be treated better. The Somalian community needs to be treated better. All of us need to respect each other. We have to hear each other. And we have to be kind to each other. That’s so important in the world today.”
Ujiri added that the inspiration behind the artwork came from the lifelong work of former South African president and social activist Nelson Mandela.
“Keeping alive his words and actions inspired us to search for and embrace the very things that make us human, and to overcome injustice and hatred,” Ujiri wrote on the installation’s website. “His example was an inspiration then, and it continues to be an inspiration, especially now.”
The Humanity Movement
At night, the installation will be lit up and create a reflection on the sidewalk of the words of the piece.
“The Humanity Art Installation represents hope for the day when we see each other.
Really see. The way we did when we first opened our eyes. Nothing in the way. No bias. One people,” Ujiri continued in the piece’s description.
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Toronto Mayor John Tory was also on hand for the artwork’s unveiling, speaking about both the installation as well as Ujiri’s presence as a public figure in the city.
“I think public art is accessible to people,” Tory said. “It’s in one of the most public places it can be used in Toronto.”
Tory called Ujiri one of Toronto’s “most admired” and “most beloved” residents.
“The world admires Toronto,” Tory added. “It’s not an accident that people choose to come here from all over the world, and they will come again. As soon as the borders are open, they will start to come again immediately. And it’s because of what we have built here and what was built by those who came before us.”
Humanity is set to stay up at Union Station from September 1 to October 31.