New business directory amplifies BIPOC owners, says Guelph Black Heritage Society

A new resource from the Guelph Black Heritage Society will promote local businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and people of color and help amplify their voices, the group’s president said.

The company has launched the Viola Desmond BIPOC Business Directory and President and Treasurer Denise Francis says she hopes it will inspire people to shop locally.

She said the company has heard from people, especially newcomers to Guelph, Wellington County and Waterloo Region, saying they want to support local businesses but don’t know where to start.

“People were asking us for referrals: do you know a hairdresser, do you know this person or do you know this person? and we want to help enhance that long-term success of our local BIPOC-owned and operated businesses,” Francis said in an interview with CBC News.

The directory lists businesses beyond the local area, however.

“When we started to spread the word about the launch of this project, we were amazed that people wanted to be included from afar and not just in our little area of ​​Guelph-Wellington,” she said.

Francis said it was also important for them to keep the directory free for the community to use and for people to list their businesses. She said there’s often a fee to list your business on these types of directories.

“We felt it was necessary to help promote our community and amplify our voices and our businesses, we had to try and do it as a service. And that’s why there is no charge for organizations who wish to register with us,” she said.

Named for a civil rights activist

The directory is named after Viola Desmond, who many people know as a civil rights activist and whose face is on the $10 bill.

But Francis said they chose Desmond because she was also a business owner. She was a beautician and mentored other young black women through her Desmond School of Beauty Culture.

“She was a trailblazer in a lot of ways and that’s why we thought it was also, you know, not just to honor her, but also to try to spread her story a bit more because she was before quite a businesswoman. And that’s why we thought it would be a good connection,” Francis said.

The company also received permission from the Desmond family to use the name in the business directory.

Other initiatives

Kween, executive director of the heritage society and coordinator of social justice initiatives, said in a press release on the directory that it was an “opportunity for the world’s majority to have access to their own promotion. and its visibility.

Kween added, “It helps amplify our voice, our message and it’s completely free. So, in the words of Viola Desmond, ‘It’s for you.'”

Francis said she hopes the whole community embraces this project and others the company has undertaken, including the Change Starts Now educational initiative and the Flora Francis Memorial Library of Black Literature, which launched earlier in the year. the year and is located in the society’s Heritage Hall. at 83 Essex Street in Guelph.

“Last year the world changed and the whole kind of Black Lives Matter movement, it wasn’t just a movement for us. It’s our lives and we have to try to continue in people’s consciousness of justice initiatives social and other projects we are working on,” she said.

“I want people to continue to support the Guelph Black Heritage Society, our programs and our activities and let us know what other services they are looking for because they want to work together and really try to be a community organization this is not just for the black community, but for the community,” Francis said.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(Radio Canada)

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