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Girl Guides of Canada to rename Brownies branch

Girl Guides of Canada said the decision as part of its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) announced Tuesday it is renaming Brownies (group for girls ages seven and eight) — an important and necessary step to creating an inclusive and equitable space where every racialized girl in Canada feels like they belong and are welcomed in Guiding.

“As the leading organization for girls and women in Canada, it’s critical that we listen to girls’ voices and take action when they speak up,” says Jill Zelmanovits, CEO, Girl Guides of Canada in a media release.

“We heard from several members and former members that the name Brownies has caused them personal harm, so we are changing the name of this branch to further remove barriers for belonging for racialized girls and women. It is clear that this change is the right thing to do – Girl Guides cannot be represented by a term that causes any girl harm.”

With more than 100 years of history in Canada, Girl Guides has evolved in many ways as a means of reaching and empowering girls and women across the country from updating programming to reflect the desires and interests of girls in the moment, to championing girls’ voices around sexism, feminism and equality, and pay equity.

In 2015, GGC formally announced that trans girls are welcome in Guiding, and in 2019, it released a new simplified uniform of a t-shirt or tunic, designed with input from girls that embraces the richness of its members’ diversity and reduces barriers to belonging.

“Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion at Girl Guides calls on us to listen to the lived experiences of racialized girls and take action to safeguard these commitments,” says Zelmanovits.

“It’s imperative that no part of Guiding causes harm to the girls we serve. Updating this branch name is not only the right thing to do, it is necessary to make Girl Guides a place where racialized girls feel safe, welcome and included.”

While the name of the branch will be updated, girls ages seven and eight will still experience the sense of discovery and accomplishment in this branch.

To prepare for the change, which will take effect in September 2023, GGC has consulted with racialized members, past members and the community and will be calling on current members to help decide on a new branch name.

“As with all our Girl Guide branches, we know this branch is special to many of our members and former members. Our program activities and badges will remain the same. The focus for all girls in Guiding remains on fun, friendship, exploring her world and sharing new experiences – this will not change” says Zelmanovits.

“We look forward to creating new experiences together which makes all girls feel welcome.”

For more information on GGC’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, visit girlguides.ca.