Girl Guides of Canada renaming ‘Brownies’ as it has caused ‘personal harm’ to racialized girls

Girl Guides of Canada renaming ‘Brownies’ as it has caused ‘personal harm’ to racialized girls

Posted For: GG Gumdrops

By Olivia Bowden

Girl Guides of Canada announced Tuesday that the organization is renaming “Brownies,” as it says the name has caused “personal harm” to racialized girls and the change will reflect its goals of empowering girls.

“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,” Jill Zelmanovits, CEO of Girl Guides of Canada, said in a press release.

The name change will take effect in September 2023. Girl Guides has consulted with racialized members, past members, and the community and will call upon current members to help decide a new name, the organization said.

Until then, girls aged seven and eight will still be able to participate in the Brownies branch, according to the press release.

Program activities and branch badges will remain the same until the name change.

Zelmanovits said it was clear the change is “the right thing to do” and that the organization “cannot be represented by a term that causes any girl harm.”

Girl Guides of Canada was founded in 1910 and aims to help girls and women build leadership and community skills through group meetings and excursions, including outdoor adventures and international trips.

There are different branches within Girl Guides based on age, including Sparks for very young girls and Rangers for teenagers.

Girl Guides said the organization has continued to evolve over the last century and focus its initiatives on pay equity, sexism and inclusion, including formally welcoming transgender girls to the organization in 2015.

“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,” said Zelmanovits in the release.

Changing the name is necessary to make Girl Guides a place where racialized girls feel “safe, welcomed and included,” she said.

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