Due to COVID-19 and the overwhelming state of Black trauma we are exposed to, experience and deal with every day, Black Space Winnipeg is pleased to re-launch our community support program Project Heal. Now moving to an online platform for the safety of our participants (respecting physical and social distancing) our community group-support program provides a safe space for Black folks in Winnipeg who want to work towards positive mental health practices and work through trauma. 

Who Can Participate?

Facilitated by Black healthcare professionals, social workers and counsellors Project Heal is for Black people in Winnipeg who are experiencing mental health concerns from the effects of systemic racism, violence and dealing with trauma from anti-Black discrimination. Anti-Black Racism is defined as policies and practices rooted in Canadian institutions such as, education, health care, and justice that mirror and reinforce beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination towards people of Black-African descent (Black Health Alliance, 2018).

As the conversation around mental health continues to grow across our city, we have noticed a lack of support for Black people facing mental health challenges and experiencing systemic discrimination in Winnipeg. Increasing interactions of anti-Black racism and discrimination has an undeniable link to the psychological wellbeing of Black people. Our program hopes to confront, respond and ensure our community is receiving accessible counselling services that fosters community healing and restores relationships within Black communities across Winnipeg.  

Whether facing anxiety or depression, dealing with racism in the workplace or facing harassment from a peer or authority figure, our community deserves to have access to healthcare services that affirm and legitimize the experiences Black people face collectively in regards to racism, colonization, white supremacy and trauma. We hope to create a program that responds to the needs our community is lacking from institutional healthcare services and develop positive mental health practices that break cycles of trauma for generations to come through community healing.

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Need for Project Heal?

Inadequate healthcare services affects many communities. The lack of institutional support that our healthcare system fails to provide encourages us to have stronger education around better mental health practices that increase more harmonious social interactions between Black community members and supports a larger dialogue that alerts the public of the insufficient services that affect our communities at large. We want to be preventative and not reactionary and instill services that will benefit our community for years to come while shifting the conversation and stigma of mental health in the Black community of Winnipeg. Statistics are hard to come by for Winnipeg’s Black demographic regarding mental health but in Ontario, the Black Health Alliance provides data that Black Winnipeggers can relate too (see image below):

These statistics outline the effects racism has on Black people in Canada and its relation to mental health severities seen throughout our community. While Black people remain at higher risks for health challenges, we can no longer wait or depend on our municipal, provincial or federal government to meet the needs of our community. The reality is that we have been practicing restorative healing practices for generations but face challenges when securing support from government institutions to maintain community healing.  

We are confident that creating a safe space for Black folks in Winnipeg to talk openly about any troubling circumstance they might be facing will know by attending Project Heal that they don’t have to face it alone. The politics of racism, white supremacy is to convince people of colour that the trauma they’re experiencing is not happening, creating more isolation and confusion that presents damaging effects for Black people psychologically. We have to maintain space that acknowledges our pain while getting to a healing space in a healthy and positive environment. 

Nadine Sookermany (Executive Director - Women’s Health Clinic) | Nedu Ejeckam & Sappfyre Mcleod (Project Heal Program Facilitators)

Nadine Sookermany (Executive Director - Women’s Health Clinic) | Nedu Ejeckam & Sappfyre Mcleod (Project Heal Program Facilitators)