A new space in Nanaimo, B.C. has opened to support Black and Indigenous people and people of colour living in the central Vancouver Island city.
The Rise Bridge Project location at 4-34 Nicol St. is now in operation seven days a week as a gathering space for BIPOC residents.
The goal of the non-profit project is to provide a safe space with resources and programming to advance the mental health, wellbeing and social justice causes of BIPOC people.
Executive director Jovan Johnson says being able to have a low-barrier accessible place where people can build relationships and navigate resources is "super important".
"[It is] key to the foundation of what we are trying to build here," she told CBC's On The Island.
Johnson, who has run women empowerment groups for about a decade, said the need for a BIPOC-specific space grew out of conversations with other community leaders and the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Programming varies and includes pre- and post-natal workshops, mental-health check-ins, elder support, restorative justice and Afrocentric healing circles. People can also access literacy support, as well as hair and art workshops.
The Rise Bridge Project also plans to host monthly community events including art in the park, sexual education workshops, gardening and sports programs and multi-cultural events such as concerts and festivals to help connect the Nanaimo community at large.
The space opened its doors on Aug. 1 and is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
To find out more about The Rise Bridge Project, and to keep an eye on the non-profit's event calendar, visit risebridgeproject.ca.