An Open Letter to BGC Canada

I remember being a little girl living in the Jane and Finch community of Toronto and wondering why everyone said that my neighbourhood was so bad when all I ever saw was the good. All I saw were people of different races and ages coming together, laughing, playing, dancing, listening to music and sharing our meals because that’s how we got to know each other; we broke bread and we explained what Baklava was, or Ackee and Salt Fish, or Butter Chicken, or Chow Mein … all the things we learned about each other, we learned through our palates.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (now BGC Canada) was a place that was safe and also a brave space. I felt so brave there that I would comfortably speak up; I would share my opinions on things so much so that sometimes I was rendered too mature and too outspoken – but not by all, because most of the leaders saw a light in me and knew that I was going to become something special. One of those leaders was Dwight Drummond, who is now the Dwight Drummond we know on CBC News, but I knew him as Dwight Drummond with the dimple in his nose, who I called ‘bum nose’! Yeah, kids can be so crazy sometimes. To me, the little dip in his nose looked like he had a booty on his face, but we laugh about it now because, after all, what does a 10-year-old know? Nothing! Anyway, I digress. I look at Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada from then until BGC Canada now and I’m so grateful to see how empowered the youth’s voices have become. I’m so grateful to see that their maturity and life experiences are being celebrated and awarded by BGC Canada with national initiatives like Youth of the Year, the Youth Leading Reconciliation program, and the National Youth Council (NYC) – and celebrated by our Prime Minister and by people like me, once a member, now an ambassador.

I want to celebrate BGC Canada for all that they’re doing, all that they’ve done and all that they’re about to do. I know that being part of BGC Canada played a great, important, valuable role in my life because I was able to be a kid; even though I had my moments of maturity, my frontal lobe and prefrontal cortex were still developing and so it was nice to go there and be accountable and to make sure my homework was done so I could get back to playing already! I was super young when I was a member and I’m so grateful that somebody saw a light in me and allowed it to shine.

BGC Canada, congratulations on all of your success! I celebrate everyone in leadership and I want to send a special shout out to Jared Morrow who has been amazing to get to know, work with, build with, dream with and someone who I have chosen, as a black woman, to call an ally.

Peace.

-Jully Black

June 18, 2021