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Girl Guides of Canada to rename Brownies after hearing that the name causes harm

Name being changed to name to remove barriers to belonging for racialized girls and women
Queen Elizabeth II receives flowers from brownies and girl guides as she visits Brandon University in Brandon, MB, Oct. 5, 1984, for the dedication of the Queen Elizabeth II School of Music building. (CP PHOTO/Nick Didlick)

Girl Guides of Canada plans to rename Brownies, saying that it has heard from several current and former members that the name has caused them personal harm.

CEO Jill Zelmanovits says they are changing the name to further remove barriers to belonging for racialized girls and women.

“It is clear that this change is the right thing to do — Girl Guides cannot be represented by a term that causes any girl harm,” said Zelmanovits said in a statement Tuesday.

“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,” she said. “It’s imperative that no part of Guiding causes harm to the girls we serve.”

The organization said the change will take effect in September 2023.

Brownies, the section of Girl Guides for girls ages seven and eight, teaches outdoor safety, camping fundamentals, gardening, building with tools and conflict management while fostering healthy friendships.

Girl Guides of Canada said it is consulting with racialized members to determine a new name.

Founded in 1910, Girl Guides of Canada has taken steps to be more inclusive in recent years by allowing trans girls to participate in the program in 2015 and administering new T-shirt uniforms in 2019.

— Angela Amato, The Canadian Press

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