Woman hopes to help Black newcomers adjust to Carleton County

by | Mar 19, 2024

E.X.H.A.L.E for Black Well-Being to launch on April 27 in Woodstock

Tanika Chambers knows what it’s like to feel like a newcomer. Her parents immigrated from Jamaica to Toronto in the 1960s. After living there for 40 years, she moved to New Brunswick in 2023 and settled in Carleton County.

When she arrived, she admitted that Woodstock was much different from Ontario. That’s because Woodstock isn’t very culturally diverse.

Chambers unfortunately experienced racial discrimination a few months after her arrival. It could have been traumatic, but she focused on the positive and worked to create a solution – the E.X.H.A.L.E. for Black Well-Being program. 

Chambers said her program, E.X.H.A.L.E., is designed to support the Black community within Carleton County.

Chambers explained that E.X.H.A.L.E. stands for Empowerment, eXellence, Healing, Advocacy, Love and Education.

“It’s easy to feel isolated and alone, especially if your personality isn’t a ‘get out there and meet people’ kind,” she explained.

In talking with other members of the Black community in Carleton County, she discovered she was not alone in her experience.

“I met a Black woman who left Woodstock to live in Moncton because she felt so alone being here. Her transparency and hearing the stories of other parents (Black and white) of Black/mixed children in Carleton County who were experiencing their own struggles, I knew that there was a greater need to focus my program on Black children/youth.”

Chambers approached the Carleton County Multicultural Association about sharing her experience with discrimination and her program idea to create a safe space for visible minorities, and there was interest. However, it would not have been without her active input. So, Chambers decided to pursue the program on her own.

“I’m a communications graduate, a speaker and mentor and an author. I know I have the tools and experience to present this program in a way that I believe will help those who’ve experienced isolation and discrimination like I have,” said Chambers.

She applied for funding but has not yet found out if she qualified, but decided to proceed with the event anyway. 

The program, launched under her non-profit G.H.A.M.P. (Giving Hope and Minding People), will take place on Saturday, April 27, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at 115 James Street (which, ironically, she discovered was the first African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in Woodstock and is now owned by Bethel Assembly).

Tickets to the launch will cost $30 and will all go towards E.X.H.A.L.E programs.

Free childcare will be provided, and tickets can be purchased at E.X.H.A.L.E. For Black Well-Being Program Launch Tickets, Sat, 27 Apr 2024 at 6:00 p.m. | Eventbrite

While the program is Black-lead and Black-serving to start, Chambers said all are welcome to support the launch.

“The ultimate goal of this program is to foster a supportive environment where Black children and youths can thrive and feel a sense of belonging — be a part of a community that celebrates their identity and uniqueness and uplifts their spirit amidst the challenges they may face in everyday life due to racial disparities,” she said.

Chambers added that a sense of well-being comes from active support and engagement in the broader community, something she believes is currently lacking in Carleton County.

“I really hope this accomplishes retention – for immigration purposes. I hope it causes people who move to Woodstock not to feel like they must leave. I want them to feel a sense of belonging. I want people to feel better, not bitter. That creates hate,” she added.

If you have questions or would like more information about the event, contact Chambers via email at tanikacha@outlook.com

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