The Toronto based Group working to empower Black women
By Priscilla Wiredu
Posted on August 6, 2021
Living in Toronto has taught us that we need to care for one another in times of stress. Black Women in Motion (BWIM) demonstrates strong evidence of that. BWIM is a youth-led organization whose goal is to support and encourage success for Black women in the Greater Toronto Area. Their goal is to create a safe space for nonbinary and gender non-conforming survivors of gender-based violence.
BWIM uses an anti-racist, intersectional feminist, and, survivor-centred framework to create culturally appropriate resources, healing spaces, as well as educational and economic opportunities for women of colour who are survivors of abuse, injustice, or violence of any kind. Monica Samuel is the founder and executive director of BWIM. Her mission statement reads, “It is my duty as a community member, more importantly as a black woman, to ensure the well-being, prosperity and advancement of my people, particularly Black women. Black women have endured the unfathomable - and we are still here. We are poignant, prolific, and radiant. We draw our strength from our Blackness and ancestry to fight oppression and injustice, while educating others, so that they can do the same. The Black women must be protected at all costs.”
BWIM offers resources and services for those seeking aid in employment, education, emergency financial aid, holistic practices, and free workshops dealing with social issues. BWIM represents integrity, accountability, equity, inclusion, and respect. BWIM actively collaborates with other agencies, organizations and projects across Ontario helping persons of intersectional identities.
Here are some of the services/workshops offered:
The Black Youth Employment Assistance Program (BYEAP)
BYEAP is a virtual employment/entrepreneurial focused twelve-week program tailored to help Black women and nonbinary individuals seek employment as well as help individuals in the areas of interview skill building, resume building, employment-specific training opportunities, as well as mental health support to develop better job retention skills. BYEAP has, on average, 30 youth per year in the program, with access to pre-employment training, paid job placements and access to Black therapists and clinicians.
The deadline to apply for this program was July 9; however, BYEAP can be contacted through the main site for inquiries about the next opening or similar workshops in the area.
The Black Peer Education Network (BPEN)
Education starts at home; BWIM wishes to dismantle toxic ideals within the Black community through peer communication. BPEN is an employment and training program tailored to Black women, Black trans women, genderqueer and nonbinary individuals between 16 and 29 years of age living in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas or Toronto Community Housing. This program aims to help lower income neighbourhoods provide better learning spaces for Black youths, educating them on rape culture, gender-based violence and toxic masculinity within the Black community. They also teach about anti-Black sexism, patriarchy, bystander intervention, and white supremacy. Openings to enrol usually begin in May.
The Love Offering Community Relief Fund
Survivors seeking financial aid can turn to BWIM’s Love Offering Community Relief Fund, a grant for Black women, trans folks, Black femmes, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals who experience food and income insecurity as a direct result of COVID-19.Those who are eligible to receive funding must:
- Live in Ontario, Canada
- Be a new applicant who has not previously received benefits from the Love Offering Fund
- Have a working email address
Priority goes to the following groups:
- Black trans-women
- Nonbinary persons
- Genderqueer persons
- Survivors of sexual assault/violence
- Survivors of domestic violence and/or intimate partner violence
- Self-employed individuals, including, but not limited to: sex workers, artists, creatives, healers, tip/based workers
For those living in the City of Toronto Neighbourhood Improvement Areas or Toronto Community Housing, applications are open all year long.
Crystals & Sage Wellness Initiative
Crystals & Sage Wellness Initiative is a twelve-week yoga and mindfulness program catered to improving the mental health and spirituality for survivors of gender-based violence. This program offers Black youth the opportunity to practice yoga in a Black-centered intersectional feminist and trauma-informed space. The wellness sector has been historically exclusionary of Black people and Black LGBTQ+ persons; therefore, this program allows individuals to be appropriately represented in yoga spaces, and have access to training and support led by Black healers and practitioners. This program also includes access to economic opportunities as well as annual scholarships for Teachers’ Training.
Curriculum Development, Training, and Consultation Services
Black Women in Motion provides a multitude of developing programs, tools, resources and environments. The end goal of each program is to teach about decolonization, and anti-racism. Each program is survivor-centred and culturally relevant. For the last eight years, BWIM has partnered with multiple educational institutions, agencies, non-profit and corporate organizations to develop and implement workshops to engage the Black community.
An overview of their 2021 workshop list:
- Consent 101 and Healthy Relationships
- Consent for Kids
- Digital Consent & Cyber Safety
- Bystander Intervention
- Upsetting Rape Culture
- Media Literacy
- Sex Positivity
- Introduction to Gender Based Violence (GBV)
- GBV and Intersectionality
- GBV and the Law
- GBV and Social Determinants of Health
- Anti-Oppression 101
- Self-care, Healing and Resiliency
- Challenging White Supremacy at Work
- Safety Audits: Building consent culture and survivor-centred workspaces
BWIM’s Gold Series: Loving Black Hair
The dedicated team of PhDs and scientists at Gold Series have worked for over 10 years to develop a haircare line using innovative technology and superior ingredients formulated specifically for textured hair. Inspired by their loved ones and their personal hair journeys, the souls behind the science of Gold Series have mined their deep knowledge and fondest hair memories to develop a unique line of products that deliver unrivaled benefits to care for, style, and maintain textured hair.
Black Women in Motion is a powerful grassroots Canadian organization committed to helping those disadvantaged by COVID-19, gender-based violence, racism and other forms of social inequities. They accept donations and are always willing to accept new members. For more information or inquiries, please contact BWIM at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the BWIM website: https://blackwomeninmotion.org.