PEI Women celebrate Black History Month

Women of colour gather to discuss identity, isolation and resiliency on P.E.I.

‘It was really an empowering space to be in all day’

Isabella Zavarise · 

Feb 16, 2020

Over 20 women of colour gathered in Charlottetown to share their experiences and come up with solutions to address the issues effecting them.  (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Over 20 women of colour gathered in Charlottetown to share their experiences and come up with solutions to address issues affecting them. 

The event, Creating A New Dynamic: Connecting Women of Colour Luncheon, was put on by the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. and coincided with Black History Month.

Tamara Steele, the society’s president, said identity, advocacy and resiliency were among the topics discussed.

“There [was] really a lot of beautiful sharing — a room full of strength and resiliency and colour,” she said.

“It was really an empowering space to be in all day.”

Tamara Steele said the group plans to hold more events like this and hopes more women of colour across P.E.I. can be part of these conversations. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Steele said the group found they all had similar lived experiences — including feelings of isolation.

“There’s this feeling of isolation among women of colour where we feel this happens to me and nobody understands,” she said.

“So this is really just bringing us together to recognize that we are sharing these experiences and we don’t have to go through these things alone.”

It may not be solutions in policy, but it’s solutions in our homes, in our personal lives, which is just as important.”​​​​​​- Kendi Tarichia

Kendi Tarichia attended the event and said this was the first time she had been in a space entirely of women of colour since moving to Prince Edward Island. 

“You know, when you’re not in these spaces, I don’t think you always see how important they are, and then when you’re in it, there’s a tension that’s released,” Tarichia said.

“You’re able to be your authentic self and you feel it once you come in. It’s like taking off a weighted blanket.”

Tarichia said the event gave her the opportunity to talk openly about her experience as a young, black woman living in rural P.E.I.

“When you’re able to gather like this, you can share those experiences and start to find solutions.

“It may not be solutions in policy, but it’s solutions in our homes, in our personal lives, which is just as important.”

‘This space is needed’

‘It was just a really great experience being able to come together – our shared lived experiences. Just talk, laugh, cry. It was beautiful,’ says Kendi Tarichia. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Ama Lawson said it was valuable to be in a room of women who could provide mentorship. 

“Having this is like a really amazing opportunity for me to express myself and … talk to women that would have gone through what I’m going through.”

Lawson said she’s also felt the loneliness echoed by many in the room and pointed to an incident where a little girl told her her hair “looked crazy.”

“I just had my braids on and I think unconsciously that kind of sat with me.”

She said she’s felt the need to wear her hair differently since then. 

Steele said some of the solutions the group came up with include establishing a black hair salon, advocacy and collaborating with the Canadian Mental Health Association.

She said one of the most important things about the day was that it occurred solely by and for women of colour. 

“I think that it’s important for people to know that this space is needed,’ she said.

Source: CBC News

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