We are proud of our legacy as a by-and-for community organization, whose leadership reflects the rich multiculturalism of NDG. We strongly believe in nurturing leadership and confidence amongst one another every day. Our diverse origins are a point of pride in the WOR community.
Throughout the years, we have witnessed waves of triumph and struggle among our members. We have been there for mothers experiencing domestic violence and abusive relationships; mothers fighting for custody of their children and mothers with kids in the foster care system, and mothers facing discrimination based on their immigration status and language skills. We have shared experiences of sexism, racism, islamophobia, and empowered women to rise above these assaults. We offer a safe place for our members to share struggles with mental illness and support everyone’s right for self-determination. Over the years we have made house visits, accompanied our members to court, and connected members with countless community resources.
Our legacy attests that we ‘rise’ to every challenge our members share. Through thick and thin, we champion every woman’s journey as one of struggle and courage, and we make space to celebrate our achievements collectively.
Two Montreal studies conducted in the late ’80s revealed how black, English-speaking women of West Indian origins were accessing family resources at a significantly lower rate than average Montrealers, and reporting higher levels of isolation. In response to these reports, community members partnered with the CLSC to create a program that would connect allophone women of color residing in NDG with the resources they and their families needed. Home visits and relationship building were key in these early years.
First Baptist Church hosted the first Black Women on the Rise support groups beginning in 1991 as part of this initiative. This marks the beginning of our approach to ‘help mothers to help themselves’- our motto that proudly attests to the peer support and friendship that develops between our members.
In 1999, our project outgrew the scope of the CLSC’s capacity, and we became an independent nonprofit organization. Black Women on the Rise was born. Since then, BWOR has offered quality early childhood education as an accompaniment to nearly all programs for mums, and this service quickly became a pillar of our operations. When we talk about accessibility, we are talking about childcare. When we are talking about healthy families, we are talking about confident kids.
In 2003, we changed our name to better communicate our reality. While the majority of our members have always been black women and women of color, we never wavered from our mission to welcome women of diverse origins in all of our programming. We embraced ‘Women on the Rise’ to reflect our inclusive attitude.
Holistic, mutual support has always been our mission. At our current location in West NDG, we offer shared meals, job readiness training, one on one counseling, art therapy workshops and so much more! Each program is partnered with childcare and room to socialize.