To advocate for the joy and visibility of Black women by creating an inclusive space to gather, unite, empower and inspire each other through mentorship and community centred events.
At joni, we're honoured to support the work Black Girl Collective is doing to uplift and unite the amazing Black women in their community who face a variety of barriers in Canada simply for who they are. At the heart of our partnership is community and equity—change happens when we work together.
What is Black Girl Collective’s mission and how did you get started?
The goal of Black Girl Collective is to create safe and inclusive spaces for self-identifying Black women (cis and transgender), femmes, non-binary and intersex individuals to gather, unite, empower, and inspire each other through community-centered events. We want Black women in Metro-Vancouver to experience joy, connect with and build authentic relationships in their communities.
As an international student attending Simon Fraser University, the founder of this organization found it challenging to integrate into Vancouver and the community at large. The culture shock, sense of isolation and the disconnect from the community, amongst other things, made her feel unwelcome and this experience is parallel to that of the majority of Black individuals living in British Columbia.
Black women, in particular, are usually overlooked and underserved, so as opposed to simply complaining about it, she brought on her friend who shared the same experiences and struggles and decided to make a change and that was the beginning of Black Girl Collective.
How do you bring your mission to life?
As an organization, our main goals are advocacy and curating opportunities for Black joy; as we consider Black joy to be a radical form of resistance. We hold space for our community through organizing and facilitating varying community-centered events, workshops and more. We support, highlight, and work with local Black businesses, and facilitators, also partnering with community organizers and allies whose values and visions align with ours.
What does period equity mean to you?
The affordability, accessibility and safety of menstrual products encompass what period equity is to BGC. It's about making sure that people who menstruate have the resources and support to decide how they want to take care of their menstrual health.
What do you think is the biggest barrier to Canada reaching period equity?
We believe the biggest barrier to period equity in Canada is the accessibility and affordability of menstrual products, particularly for those living in remote areas.
What accomplishment is Black Girl Collective most proud of?
Being able to create several safe, inclusive and fun spaces for our community to build and show up as their true authentic selves is what we are most proud of.
An example of this is our Black Girls Read book club. Most recently, one of the members shared with us how she felt truly comfortable showing up to the zoom meetings in her bonnet. She explained that in her daily life she had always felt that she had to present herself a certain way, dressing the part and code-switching to assimilate in different spaces.
On one occasion, she had been too tired to tame her hair and had joined the book club meeting wearing her bonnet, unsure of how she would be received. To her surprise, she saw two other members confidently rocking their own headscarves, bonnets, and natural tresses.
She said that in that moment she felt more than a sense of relief, she felt normal and belonging. As organizers, moments like this are exactly why we do what we do.
How important to Black Girl Collective are partnerships with social enterprises like joni?
Stronger together is an important statement for BGC. We are consistently working with local businesses because we believe in the ability of our community to achieve self sufficiency.
We believe that we can turn dreams into goals and realities if we show up, support, and advocate for one another. Partnering with social enterprises like joni makes that possible.
What can people do in their own communities to fight for period equity?
Educating themselves on what period equity is all about and advocate for the rights of marginalized and underserved individuals. They can take it one step further by making the switch from commercial period products to social enterprises like joni who have an effective one-for-one model that matches each purchase with a donation.
Community support allows them to continue to achieve period equity starting with the communities who need it the most.