Ifarada, a Black-Led Grassroots Organization

Our programs are designed to meet the needs of our community & improve our outcomes.

Our African-Canadian youth are growing up in the world where culture and identity continues to remain dynamic and acquiescent.  Cultural identity is as crucial to the development of self as much as other factors such as gender, sexual identity, personality and self-esteem (Ishwaran, 1979).  Research demonstrates that during adolescence, young people undertake an essential journey in formulating their self-identity, their goals and passions which inform their self-esteem and self-worth, and their connections with other people (Wilkinson, 2003).  Without a strong connection with one’s cultural identity, there is a self-erosion which occurs.  Youth who do not have the opportunity to learn about and connect with their cultural identity risk assimilation, alienation, withdrawal and integration (Wilkinson, 2003 and Wallace, 2005).  In this sense, the youth seeks to fulfill their needs of belonging with other venues some of which are self-destructive and take time further away from their divine purpose. 

Our programs are culturally focused, geared to build youth’s identity but also address the inequities Black youth experience in their lives…

African-Canadian youth in Canada are over represented in child welfare as there is a higher percentage of African-Canadian youth in care than in the general population.  This experience is directly linked to systematic racism and discrimination with the child welfare system and the community (Bonnie and Pon, 2015).  One of the challenges for African-Canadian youth in child welfare care is being disconnected from their cultural identity through apprehensions into foster homes, displacement from their home community, and isolation from their family and kin.  Some of the difficulties African-Canadian youth in child welfare experience leads to an increase in depressive symptoms, low-self-esteem, and learned maladaptive strategies to address symptoms of distress (Scott and House, 2005).  Cultural displacement of youth in care further leads to a loss of culture, faith-based practices and social connections with their community (Clarke, 2011). Our young people continue to experience systemic racism and discrimination in the education system, youth justice and policing system, and the mental health system.

Programs made for us, by us…


Our priorities focus on group membership and leadership, culturally and community work, and recognition of equity and anti-oppressive practice:

Group Membership & Leadership

Our programs raise leaders. We have a diverse Board of Directors team. We have a firm dedication to encouraging youth from 13 to 29 to join our board team. Our executive director & key visionary is Nicole Perryman. Learn more about Nicole Perryman from her website. Adrianna Perryman, our Youth Board of Directors members developed Wonderfully Made designed to support build young girls (aged 8 to 13 years old) self-esteem, confidence, healthy body image, and wellness. Wonderfully Made is led by our young women from Girls who Lead. Adrianna Perryman, who believed that by equipping young women to mentor and lead workshops they can create effectively build younger girls to improve greater outcomes. Finally, through Our Strong Leadership programs we hope to bring our young people to connect with professionals, life coaches, holistic care practitioners, and elders (Mzee to Youth).

Our policy: Young people have the potential to support each other, to engage in their community and to make decisions which impact their lives.

Our strategy: create opportunities for young people to learn, to grow, to feel safe, and to develop options.

Culturally-Inclusive and Community Engagement

In 2013, Nicole Perryman with the collaboration of her team developed, Aset Group Consulting and Counselling Services, currently a leading provider for counselling and mental health support in Durham Region. We have serviced over 1,000 community members, hosted several groups for girls and women, and participated in many community events from Children’s Aid Society, Ontario Association for Social Workers, and the University of Toronto. We have proven success in providing holistic, anti-oppressive and strength-based programs and services. Through counselling and psychotherapy services, Aset Group Consulting and Counselling Services seeks to best support our cultural and ethnic heritage through self-awareness, psycho-education and training.

Our policy: develop programs only designed to support youth using a culturally-inclusive approach.

Our Strategy: develop best practices, evidence-based & supported interventions designed to support African-Canadian Youth & Indigenous Youth.

Rites of passage ceremonies and programs are essential features of African culture.  Narratives or story telling was a way in which elders shared the culture, morals and lessons to young people.  Such story telling was a way to pass down information from one generation to the next.  This is an essential part of African culture and consists of oral traditions, proverbs, parables, music, dance, art and rituals are some of the approaches used to support healing, to educate and develop identity for its members (Sutherland, 2011).Teaching our young people about their history before and after Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, major contributors of African history and world history, the growth of spirituality and belief system, and more are the only ways we can transfer our history onto the next generation.  We cannot rely upon the education system to teach our youth our history. In addition to teaching our young people about their history, it is important to teach young people to critically analyse and deconstruct systematic racism and oppression.  Encourage youth to develop a higher sense of social responsibility and community focus when engaging in learning about injustices and inequality.  Understanding anti-oppressive practice and helping youth identify barriers in their lives so they do not become discouraged, but resilient and challenged to overcome them.Trauma experiences can create a long lasting impact upon up to seven generations.  As African peoples, our history is embedded in trauma experiences and trauma reactions which has not been helpful to our healing and growth.  If we can identify that trauma experiences impact our emotional and social well-being, we can learn ways to heal in a healthy way. As “elders” we have a duty to support our young people through mentorship and guidance.  Think about the people who shaped your development.  Our children need the same people in their lives. Supporting our African owned businesses and initiatives helps build community, reduce unemployment rates, and open up opportunities for youth’s success.

Equity and Anti-Oppressive Practice

Aset Group Consulting and Counselling Services is focused on providing services which are anti-oppressive, strength-based and holistic approach. Our clinicians and therapists have a strong understanding of trauma-focused approach and inter-generational trauma. Ifarada seeks also to do the same in developing anti-oppressive practices and promoting inclusive, barrier-free, and holistic approach to supporting communities and families. We produce literature and develop programs which uniquely address anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, systemic oppression and biases. Our programs seek to build our community and support our members to achieve better outcomes.

Our Policy: our families, children & youth deserve the opportunity to achieve their goals.

Policy: our community members deserve to live in safe communities & to have positive life outcomes without barriers due to race, poverty, discrimination or trauma.

Strategy: develop barrier-free access to programs and services, ensure our Board of Directors, mentors and teams understand anti-oppressive practice (AOP), develop & promote literature and training in AOP, and promote equitable practices.


For further reflection, review our article: Creating Enriching Cultural Experiences for African-Canadian Youth

References:

Bonnie, N & Pon, G. (2015) Critical well-being in child welfare: A journey towards creating a new social contract for Black communities in Conere, Jeannine & Strega, Susan, 2nd Edition: Walking this Path Together Anti-Racist and Anti-Oppressive Child Welfare Practice. Halifax: Fenwood Publishing.

Clarke, J. (2011). The challenges of child welfare involvement for Afro-Caribbean Canadian families in Toronto in Children and Youth Services Review, 33(2).

Ishwaran (1979) Childhood and Adolescene in Canada.  Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

Rankin, J., & Ng, P. (2013, March). Unequal justice: Aboriginal and black inmates disproportionately fill Ontario jails. Retrieved May 2, 2015, from The Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2013/03/01/unequal_justice_aboriginal_and_black_inmates_disproportionately_fill_ontario_jails.html

Scott, L. D., & House, L. E. (2005). Relationship of distress and perceived control to coping with perceived racial discrimination among Black youth. The Journal of Black Psychology, 31(3), 254-272. doi:10.1177/0095798405278494

Wallace, Stuart and Ali (2005) The Ryerson-Wellesley Determinants of Health Framework for Urban Youth  Wilkinson, Deanna (2003) Guns, Violence and Identity Among African American and Latino Youth.  New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing.

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