Women We Admire - Monica Samuel
Monica Samuel on Building a Community with Black Women in Motion
Our Women We Admire series is our way of supporting and sharing the stories of incredible women whose values match ours. Today, meet Monica Samuel.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m an equity and anti-violence educator and consultant, community builder, and social entrepreneur. I’ve spent over 12 years in the non-profit sector, with much of my work focusing on anti-oppression, equity, mental health, gender-based violence, and consent. In addition, I have 10 years of experience in culturally-relevant program design and implementation for Black youth across the Greater Toronto Area.
What inspired you to start BWIM?
In 2013, I had the privilege of doing community development work in the Jane and Finch community, where I met a group of Black women and girls from an afterschool program called the Butterfly Project. Their stories of survival and resilience deeply inspired me. So when they defunded the program, I knew that I needed to create space for them. I wanted to ensure Black women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ survivors of gender-based violence had services and support created by and for them. Somewhere they could be seen, understood, affirmed, and loved. Where they could access the necessary tools to thrive socially, mentally, and economically.
When we look at gender-based violence globally, but specifically here in Canada, there is the complete erasure of gender-based violence statistics and experiences of Black women, girls, nonbinary, and gender-non-conforming communities. This erasure is not an accident; it is by design. The rise in gender-based violence is happening across the country. Certain voices are prioritized, amplified, heard, and believed, while the violence against Black and Indigenous communities is essentially rendered invisible in Canada.
Black Women in Motion and its programs and services state that Black survivors matter and have a right to be included and centered.
What motivates you on a daily basis? Where do you get your power from?
My team. My ancestors who came before me. I stand on the shoulders of Black women and Black queer and trans people who have moved mountains and disrupted systems since time memorial. I am because they were.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard?
A no to others is a yes to yourself. You must choose yourself every day.
What does it mean to you to be a female entrepreneur?
I’m an entrepreneur. Period. Building. Connecting. Community Care.
There’s been an incredible push for awareness and support of BIPOC-owned businesses. Where is greater support still needed?
As we know, long-term support and federal funding and resources are a fraction of what is made available to non-black/POC entrepreneurs and organizations. Elevating the voices, and work of black entrepreneurs through brand partnerships, funding and authentic partnerships is crucial.
How do you ground yourself (during the day)?
I reconnect with the land.
In honor of Black History Month, we will be donating a portion of our sales to Black Women In Motion — a Canadian organization that empowers the advancement of Black women and non-binary survivors of gender-based violence through education, advocacy, and support.
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