In September, the West Island Black Community Association (WIBCA) is launching a book club called Black Girls Gather so young girls can talk about issues they deal with on a daily basis, as well as to introduce a more positive side to black culture through the books they read.
This non-profit association provides programs and services for people of all ages in the West Island black community.
Black Girls Gather was created by volunteers Mariame Touré and Fabiola Ngamaleu Teumeni, to expose young girls to diversity in their reading choices. Touré says the two wanted to start the book club because they never got to chance to read about black characters at school. “Fabiola and I went to a predominately white high school,” Touré says. “All of the books we were reading focused on Quebec culture and there wasn’t a lot of diversity in the curriculum. We felt like we needed to create a space for young girls where they could come together and discuss issues of race and gender.”
The book club will be split into two age groups, girls aged 12 to 14 and 15 to 18. They will meet on a weekly basis for two hours to discuss a book written by black authors, with themes like colourism, discrimination and feminism, and how these topics relate to their lives. At the end of each month, both groups will come together and participate in workshops that will range from a guest speaker who will discuss police brutality or an outing where the girls will spend a day in a hair salon learning how to style their hair. The goal of these workshops, like the book club, is to give them a chance to build their black identity.
Some of the books that will be read include:
Black Enough, a collection of short stories by young black authors from different cultures and backgrounds, who tell their stories about what it’s like to be black in America.
All American Boys — published in 2015 and written by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely— which is a story about police brutality.
Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, the true story of teenage girl who was kidnapped and enslaved in Nigeria.
While all the books will be in English, the book club is open to bilingual students.
For now, the meetings will take place in Roxboro; however, they may have to be moved online depending on the situation with the pandemic.
The association also offers free, Saturday morning tutorials for students who may need some extra help with homework in subjects such as English, French, math, science or history. There is also a mentorship program for kids, workshops with topics ranging from financial literacy to mental health as well as free legal clinics and scholarships.
To register for the book club, click here.
For more information on the West Island Black Community Association, click here.