Black Voice

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By Priscilla Wiredu

Posted on November 5, 2021
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Meet the organization that is committed to building connections amongst Black women within local, regional, and provincial communities.

The Congress of Black Women of Canada (CBWC) is a national non-profit organization founded in 1973, by Kay Livingstone. CBWC is dedicated to improving the lives of Black women and their families within local and national communities.

The Ontario chapter provides leadership and direction to create and maintain a strong bond amongst their provincial chapters, to properly address the social, economic and cultural issues, as well as the needs of all Black women.

CBWC’s main objectives include:

  • To provide a united structure through which the Ontario Chapters can work effectively
  • To research and provide relevant information regarding issues that affect Black women and their families
  • To provide a non-threatening forum through which Black women can express their views and seek support
  • To facilitate cooperation among the chapters
  • To enhance the effectiveness of the chapters by providing leadership and organizational skills
  • To strengthen the chapter through commitment and accountability to the region and the national executive
  • To promote the Congress by building a relationship with government agencies, other organizations and community resources
  • To heighten the visibility of the work of the Congress throughout the province

They have a wide range of resources that span by location. The directory can be found here.

How CBWC operates by location

  • Provincially – Congress businesses are supervised by the Regional Representative.
  • Locally – Members elect executives who maintain and direct the chapter and its programs, with the help of the Provincial Representative. The organization is supervised by the Regional Representative, whose role is to create and support chapters, liaise with the National Executive Council, as well as communicate with other community organizations and government institutions.
  • Regionally – Regional meetings are held every 3 months and members from all chapters meet up to review, support, and find solutions for ongoing Congress advancement. Workshops and presentations are quite often a part of the Regional meeting agenda.

Each chapter has its own resources and contact pages. Visit the website and look under the regional chapters tab to find your local branch.

Below are some of the workshops and resources they offer:

E-Summit Sessions

Due to COVID19, CBWC has moved their sessions online. Below are the three sessions that help Black women.

Session 1: Nurture Mental & Emotional Wellbeing
Throughout history, Black women have been prioritizing the needs of others before their own. This session is a form of activism for Black women, to take time to focus on and nurture their wellbeing. Attendees are equipped with practices, strategies, tools, and resources used to empower and strengthen Black women in addressing barriers to great levels of mental and emotional wellness.

Session 2: Nurture Physical Wellbeing
This session aims to empower Black women on their wellness journey, focusing on nurturing their physical bodies. Attendees are given information, inspiration, and strategies to help us cope in these challenging times as we continue to navigate their way through the pandemic and the ever-changing restrictions imposed.

Session 3: Nurture Family & Financial Wellness
A provincial survey conducted in 2020 made the organization realize financial wellbeing classes would be a great addition to their sessions. This session focuses on addressing the questions of handling money and providing insight into financial fundamentals.
Please visit their website for upcoming dates for each session.

Other Wellness Opportunities

Holistic Hormone Transformation Discovery Session with Dr. Agbeko ND

This ongoing session allows attendees to discover any physical ailments they may have if they’ve been slowing down from living the healthy lifestyle they want. This session offers information about which foods and lifestyle habits are bad for your body and how to change them. A step-by-step overview helps create a holistic transformation. Registration is complimentary for Wellness Revolution participants

The Additional Income Playbook by Africa’s Pocket

Great resources are offered by Africa’s Pocket, providing participants with insights, guidance, and a higher level of financial literacy. This is to help get involved and serious about financial goals.

Special Offers from the CBWC Community

Nutrition and body systems assessment

  • Analysis of Assessment
  • Nutrition Recommendations

Eight weeks of nutrition & weight loss coaching

  • Lose approximately 2 lbs. weekly by nourishing your body
  • Weekly remote coaching sessions with a Registered Holistic Nutritionist & supportive recipes & newsletters

The Kathleen (Kay) Livingstone Award

Kathleen Livingstone was the first president and founder of the Canadian Negro Women’s Association (CANEWA). CANEWA’s members hosted and participated in various events that positively impacted the Black community—teaching the significance of self-respect and self-esteem to Black people.
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In 1973, Kathleen Livingstone organized CANEWA’s most public success, the first National Congress of Black Women, which was held for three days in Toronto, ON. The event brought together 200 women from across Canada. Workshops were held on subjects such as education, single parenthood, and life as a senior citizen, and resolutions on many subjects were passed. The Congress inspired delegates to maintain close ties with each other, leading to further conventions, including Montreal in 1974, Halifax in 1976, Windsor in 1978, and Winnipeg in 1980 where the organization was renamed the Congress of Black Women of Canada.

The Calypso Carnival, the brainchild of CANEWA—and a forerunner to Caribana—was one of the first public celebrations highlighting Black and Caribbean culture. Other events included: The First Negro History Week (1958), which later grew into Black History Month, the 1962 Martin Luther King Jr.’s Speech at Holy Blossom Temple, Bathurst Street; Coretta Scott King’s performance at Massey Hall, the 1994 Picketing/Protesting outside Maple Gardens, against Alabama’s Governor George Wallace’s speech. CANEWA’s members also engaged in registering their objections to press reports that dared to portray Black people in a negative light.

Kay Livingstone worked tirelessly to break down prejudice and promote equality for diversified groups, working through political activities and participating in a range of advocacy and volunteer organizations. She helped bring awareness of women’s issues, racial issues, music, family raising, and several other key topics.

She served as president of the United Nations Associations, as regional chair of the National Black Coalition, as a moderator for Heritage Ontario and as a member of the Appeal Board of Legal Aid. Livingstone is credited with first using the term “visibility minority.” In 1975, she was working as a consultant for the Canadian Privy Council, helping to organize a national conference for visible minority women. Kathleen Livingstone died in 1975.

The award

This award is given in recognition of a Black woman who exemplifies the qualities of Kay Livingstone; in particular, her belief in Black women, her commitment to serving the Black community, volunteerism within the wider community, commitment to the philosophy of the Congress of Black Woman of Canada, and her vision of unity among Black Women across Canada. The first award was granted to the Hon. Jean Augustine in 1987.

If interested in keeping up to date with the Congress of Black Women Canada their contact information is:

Email: or
Phone: 1-866-986-CBWC (2292)
Alternatively, you can check out their Instagram and Facebook.

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Priscilla Wiredu is a writer for this year’s Black Voice project. An alumni of York University, she graduated with Honors where she studied Social Sciences. She then went on to get an Ontario Graduate certificate in Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers, and a college certificate in Legal Office Administration at Seneca College. She is currently studying for the LSAT in hopes of going to law school. Her main goal as a Black Voices writer is to ensure Black issues and Black Pride are enunciated through her works.

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