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P.E.I. advocacy group welcomes move to rename Brownies organization

A Brownie from British Columbia waits for her turn to speak at the Girl Guides of Canada's 100th anniversary celebration in Toronto in this 2010 file photo.  (Canadian Press  - image credit)
A Brownie from British Columbia waits for her turn to speak at the Girl Guides of Canada's 100th anniversary celebration in Toronto in this 2010 file photo. (Canadian Press - image credit)

The executive director of a P.E.I. advocacy group is welcoming the news that Girl Guides of Canada is renaming its Brownies branch.

The move is being made to address concerns that the name "is a barrier to racialized girls and women feeling part of the Guiding sisterhood," according to a Girl Guides of Canada news release issued earlier this week.

Sobia Ali-Faisal is the executive director of the Prince Edward Island non-profit BIPOC USHR, which stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour United for Strength, Home, Relationship.

She learned about the pending name change on social media from a couple of her South Asian friends who had been hurt by the name when they were children.

 

"They had talked about experiencing racial microaggressions and racism associated with the term," she said

"For a lot of children, the term 'brownie' is actually a racial slur. It's commonly used amongst children against black and brown children. So to be in that age group and to be in an organization, in a group called Brownies … can be quite a challenge and really difficult for a lot of people."

Jane Robertson/CBC
Jane Robertson/CBC

Ali-Faisal said her friends felt the name was an attack on them.

The BIPOC USHR executive director was herself in the organization for a short time as a child, and always felt uncomfortable with the term.

The new name for the program for girls aged seven and eight has not yet been decided. An announcement is expected in January 2023, the organization said on its website.

Evan Mitsui/CBC
Evan Mitsui/CBC

Girl Guides of Canada said it consulted with "racialized members, past members and the community and will be calling on current members to help decide on a new branch name."

"The only thing that's changing is the name," CEO Jill Zelmanovits told CBC News on Tuesday. "And we're really hoping this means more girls will be able to make more of those amazing memories these women have."