Virtual Forum Overview

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Looking Within: Anti-Black Racism and the Gender-Based Violence Sector in Canada

  • Monday, Jan. 18, 1-3 p.m. ET
  • Tuesday, Jan. 19, 1-3 p.m. ET
  • Wednesday, Jan. 20, 1-3 p.m. ET

The Learning Network invites you to the Virtual Forum, Looking Within: Anti-Black Racism and the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Sector in Canada. This Forum brings together the voices and insights of Black activists, advocates, academics, artists, and service providers from across Canada for a series of dialogues about complicity and accountability in the GBV sector on issues of anti-Black racism.   

Through a series of virtual panel discussions, participants will be invited to “look within” the systems, organizational practices, and ideologies they take part in. Each session explores various dimensions of anti-Black racism, with discussions aimed at informing transformative, strengths-based, practical changes within the GBV sector.

A certificate of participation will be available to attendees for each session through a link provided at the end of the discussion.

Funding for the Learning Network enables us to offer this Virtual Forum at no cost to participants.


Registration PagE        Presenter and Moderator Biographies         Code of Conduct


By inviting audiences to “look within,” our hope for these sessions is to:
  • Critically examine anti-Blackness and anti-Black racism and GBV in Canada.

  • Amplify the knowledges of Black leaders, advocates, and survivors in developing anti-racist practices and policies. 

  • Identify strengths-based approaches for GBV organizations and service providers to be more accountable to Black women and children and gender-diverse folks.


Working Session Descriptions

The Forum will feature an Opening and Closing Ceremony by Myrna Kicknosway.


Myrna Kicknosway, Visiting Elder, Western University

Click here to read Myrna Kicknosway's biography


Monday, Jan. 18, 1­3 p.m. ET

Now what? Beyond statements of solidarity

In this session, participants will learn about how white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, and state violence have come to shape both gender-based violence and the gender-based violence sector in Canada. Join us as panelists discuss why violence against Black women and children must be understood within this broader context, and how this awareness is essential for informing accountability within the gender-based violence sector.

Presenters include:  Dr. Rachel Zellars and Hirut Melaku

rachel zellars portrait

hirut melaku photo

Dr. Rachel Zellars, Assistant Professor, Saint Mary’s University

Click here to read Dr. Rachel Zellars' biography

Hirut Melaku, Co-founder, Third Eye Collective

Click here to read Hirut Melaku's biography

Nneka MacGregor






Moderated by Nneka MacGregor, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Women's Centre for Social Justice (better known as WomenattheCentre)

Click here to read Nneka MacGregor's biography


Tuesday, Jan. 19, 13 p.m. ET

Anti-Black Racism and Service Provision in the GBV Sector

This session focuses specifically on how anti-Black racism directly impacts service provision in the gender-based violence sector. Listen as leading experts address challenging issues relating to the practices and policies within our sector. The session invites participants to reflect critically on the ways that gender-based violence work can be more accountable to Black survivors of violence. 

Presenters include:  Jacqueline Benn-John, Abi Ajibolade, Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, and Sophia Sahrane

Jacqueline Benn-John

abi ajibolade photo

Dr. Jacqueline Benn-JohnExecutive Director,            Women’s Support Network of York Region

Click here to read Jacqueline Benn-John, Ph.D.'s biography


Abi Ajibolade, Executive Director, The Redwood, OCASI Board Member

Click here to read Abi Ajibolade's biography


Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah photo

  Sophia Sahrane

Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, Executive Director,  Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity

Click here to read Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah's biography


Sophia Sahrane, Project Coordinator, DAWN Canada 

Click here to read Sophia Sahrane's biography

yamikani msosa photo



Moderated by Yamikani Msosa, Anti-Violence Community Organizer and Support Worker

Click here to read Yamikani Msosa's biography



Wednesday, Jan. 20, 13 p.m. ET

ASHE: Arts, Spirituality, Healing, and Embodiment 

This interactive workshop will offer a simple embodied practice for healing through the Arts. The facilitators, Ravyn and Kyisha, will share experiences of their embodied practices. The hope is to inspire a conversation that will open participants to new ways of healing and activism, which address anti-Black racism at its core. Allowing participants to reckon with their responsibility to eradicating white supremacy and anti-Black racism.

Presenters include:  Ravyn Wngz and Kyisha Williams 

Ravyn Wngz portrait kyisha williams photo

Ravyn Wngz, Co-Founder, ILL NANA/DiverseCity Dance Company

Click here to read Ravyn Wngz's biography

Kyisha Williams, Actor, Director, Model, and Health Promoter

Click here to read Kyisha Williams' biography

Esther Enyolu photo



Moderated by Esther Enyolu, Executive Director, Women's Multicultural Resource & Counselling Centre of Durham

Click here to read Esther Enyolu's biography





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