Community is very important to Itse Hesse. That’s why after graduating from Simon Fraser University and realizing there was a lack of career support for Black women like her, she decided to do something about it.
“After university, it was impossible to find a mentor in my field in Vancouver,” said Hesse, a digital marketing expert with a BA in Communications from SFU. “I noticed that most Black girls in the city complained about the same thing and the lack of community for Black women, so I decided to create a community for us.”
That community was Black Girl Collective, an organization that advocates for the visibility of Black cisgender and transgender women, femmes, non-binary and intersex individuals by creating inclusive spaces and community-centred events and programs.
“I wanted a community where Black women could be 100% ourselves and not feel like we have to talk or act a certain way to be accepted or be part of,” said Hesse, Founder and President of Black Girl Collective. “Our organization is unique because no one in Vancouver and Canada as a whole tackle the issues Black women in our country face the way we do.”
Hesse is joined by fellow SFU grad Tobi Owobowale (Project Lead) and current SFU student Praise Osifo (Financial Coordinator) in operating Black Girl Collective. The team also includes in-house writer Dela Ruth Hini, a recent graduate of UBC Okanagan.
Together the team hosts Black Joy events twice a quarter for the collective’s members. The events range from dance, food, and wellness, and aims to provide safe, accessible spaces for Black women to socialize, take up space, and try new experiences.
The registered non-profit organization is also building its Black Futures program that will provide young Black girls ages six to 17 access to the world of tech.
To help Black Girl Collective continue providing programs and events as well as expanding its reach, the organization is holding a fundraising campaign. The goal is to raise $40,000 by the end of 2022.
View this post on Instagram
“Our goal is to build an inclusive, impactful, and long-lasting community for Black women all over Canada,” said Hesse. “In just a year we have been able to accomplish so much for our community. We are here to stay and dedicated to our mission.
“Check out our website and donate money, your expertise and refer us! We are always open to working with allies who are dedicated to creating change.”