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.

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

Monday, Jan. 18, 1­3 p.m. ET

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

wendy komiotis photo



Moderated by Wendy Komiotis, Executive Director, METRAC




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

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 Douglas, and Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah

Jacqueline Benn-John

abi ajibolade photo

Jacqueline Benn-John, Executive Director,                                    Women’s Support Network of York Region

Click here to read Jacqueline Benn-John's biography


Abi Ajibolade, Executive Director, The Redwood 

Click here to read Abi Ajibolade's biography


Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah photo

Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah photo

Debbie Douglas, Executive Director, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants 

Click here to read Debbie Douglas' biography

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

Click here to read Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah's biography


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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

This session brings together two multi-talented activists, artists, and advocates to discuss the many ways that agency and healing may be fostered when supporting survivors of intersecting systems of oppression. Join us for a dialogue about how gender-based violence work could further enable various holistic, expressive, and arts-based approaches. 

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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