Kayla Carter is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and healer. She is a Tkaronto-based Black, disabled, chronically ill, femme survivor of Jamaican, Cuban, and Maroon ancestry and believes that her existence is not accidental, but deliberate.
With a Masters in Health Studies, her research was on the epigenetics of ancestral trauma. Kayla has been an equity and diversity facilitator and consultant for over 10 years. Her work focuses on ancestral and intergenerational trauma, race, gender, sexuality, disability justice, reproductive justice and what it means to be unabashedly human.
Starting her career as an artist at the ripe age of 15, Kayla has performed to sold-out audiences. By using art as a means of symbiotic healing for herself and her audiences, her work has been described as “ disarming beautiful and transformative”.
Through her work as a healer and intuitive reiki practitioner, Kayla works with clients to work through mental health, self-care, self-love, ancestral and intergenerational trauma, sustainable forms of healing, and radical reproductive justice/healing. She is currently working towards becoming a birth doula for underserved communities.
Kayla is the Founder and Executive director of The Black Artist Market Toronto an artist market that is dedicated to carving out spaces for Black Artists to share and sell their art free from tokenization and with the support of their community. As the force behind her podcast, The Clearing by K, Kayla unpacks and demonstrates the ways storytelling is a powerful medium of healing by interviewing artists, healers, creatives and those who have something to say.
She would like to thank her ancestors and remind them that their work was not in vain. She would also like to acknowledge and express gratitude to the Mississaugas of the Credit River and unceded Three Fires Confederacy Territories, as the land where she is currently a settler.
Photo Credit : Martika Gregory
As a multidisciplinary artist, (a writer, theatre practitioner, dancer, filmmaker, and performance artist) Kayla uses her art as catharsis, truth-telling and healing. Kayla’s lived experience is beautifully tangled and the same goes for her artistic practice.
As an essayist, writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, Kayla writes about ancestry, grief, diaspora and what it means to be human in a world that understands you as otherwise. She wrote her first play ' For Fried Plantin" at 19 years old, which had its Canadian debut at the National Arts Centre of Canada and has since been performed internationally to raving reviews.Her writing is striking, blunt and has been described at 'unapologetically human'. Through theatre Kayla has depicted stories untold and forgotten, all while using the mediums of dance, movement, performance art, and acting. Some of Kayla's performance artwork includes A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer, Other Side of the Game, Diasporic Journeys: A Multi-Arts Installation and The Rhubarb Festival. She has performed at the historic Buddies in Bad time theatre and has debuted her writing at The Glad Day Bookstore ( world's oldest surviving LGBTQ bookstore). As a filmmaker, Kayla is invested in telling stories that are left on the periphery. Through film, Kayla pushes the boundaries of how we digest and regurgitate film. By using cinematography, sound, writing, and storytelling Kayla premiered her first short film 'Lay it down' at the renowned TIFF Bell Lightbox. Following Lay it down she produced, directed and wrote her second film based on her first play For Fried Plantin .
Kayla is an emotive and dynamic facilitator who uses her emotional intelligence and lived experience to not only teach but affirm the lived experiences of those in her workshops.
Kayla’s work as a community educator is deeply and firmly rooted in decolonial education practices and in rethinking what ‘education’. As a community educator Kayla facilitates, coordinates, conducts workshops, speaks on panels and delivers keynote speeches. In her 10 year career, she has spoken about topics such as critical race theory, decolonization, anti-oppression, intersectionality, the embodied effects of colonial violence, mental health, gender, sexuality, disability justice, reproductive justice, trauma, and art as a means of radical change and healing.
She has done consulting and facilitation for the University of Toronto, University of Guelph, York University, George Brown College, Tools For Change, Toronto Community Housing, Public Health just to name a few. She is currently in the process of creating workshops and is always excited to curate tailored workshops for teams, community organizations, and individuals.
“I hired Kayla to facilitate a body butter workshop and be part of a discussion on health + wellness for Black and Brown students. She shared herself from a place of deep ancestral knowing and her compassionate offerings of story and medicine were a welcome oasis from the stressful culture of the university. I highly recommended giving her a shout to collaborate!”
“Kayla is an incredibly gifted and thoughtful educator and artist. She balances empathy with an exceptional depth of knowledge which is very appreciated.”
- Kat Andrikopoulos (Filling the Gap TO)
Kayla arrived at her work as a healer with the same fury that she arrived at her need to heal. Through her lived experience with trauma, mental health, being a survivor, chronic illness and being an empath, Kayla’s work as a healer comes from a deep awareness of the massive pitfalls in what accounts as support, care and healing for those of us who are all but forgotten in the Western Medical Industrial Complex.
By addressing issues like environmental racism, food security, mental health, poverty, ongoing vicarious trauma and high maternal mortality for Black and indigenous people amongst so much more, Kayla is deeply invested in reframing what healing looks like and how we can do so with agency, dignity, and self-determination.
As a birth worker Kayla is invested in working to helping people rethink the connecting between birth and gender, with the intention of moving our society away from the cis - heteronormative colonial understandings of birth and pregnancy. She is currently working in training to become a certified birth doula for underserved communities. Specifically, teen parents, racialized communities, incarcerated folks, members of the LGBTQ2AIS+ community, poor folks, people living with disabilities and mental health needs, and trauma survivors.
As an intuitive reiki practitioner, Kayla works with her clients to unpack where they are holding trauma and hurt, all while taking an intersectional approach to understanding how these things came to be. Part of Kayla’s practice as a healer is dedicated to producing new ways to inspire and affirm those of us who have been convinced it out of our right to heal.