Monica Samuel

Black Women in Motion

Toronto, Ontario

Creating Safe Places for Women of Colour

The opportunity:

Monica Samuel spent her high school years in Toronto working full-time and trying to qualify for all possible university scholarships. She had to contribute to expenses at home, and was also saving up for university. Working so hard in school and at a full-time job, Monica didn’t feel like she got to have a real adolescence. She felt alone and disconnected from her culture and community. But there were Black women along her journey who encouraged and supported her, and it’s because of those women that she didn’t give up on herself.

What needed to change:

In 2013, while attending Ryerson University full-time, Monica was also volunteering at a community health centre. She noticed that safe spaces for Black women and girls in the centre were grossly underfunded. So, Monica looked for small grants to apply to, and ended up getting one of them!

With the funding that she got from the grant, Monica started an after school program. She created a program that helped young women feel supported while also working on their leadership skills. By the time Monica left the health centre, she knew she wanted to keep creating opportunities for Black women to get together and empower one another.

Finding her people while using social media:

Monica decided to found Black Women In Motion in 2013 to continue her work. In order to spread the word to young women who might want to take part in the programming, Monica created social media platforms. After that, she used her community connections to start bringing her organization to school lunch programs. Eventually she was able to provide summer programming too!

Building leadership skills while feeling safe:

With the support of her colleagues, friends and family, Monica’s dream has grown exponentially. Black Women In Motion provides programming, mentorship, and support to young women aged 15-29 from the African-Caribbean diaspora. They have a place to talk about the systemic oppression that they face, and they can also build on their capacity as community leaders in their own right.