Wellness is an integral part of one’s existence!
As Black bodies, the pursuit and sustenance of wellness are essential to our, at times, constant and arbitrary experiences of violence. In most societies, there is also work to be done in the decolonization of wellness and its practices to encourage the participation of traditionally excluded groups, including Black bodies.
Touching more on barriers that exist to culturally competent care, the centralization of white bodies in wellness spaces, and especially those relating to the land is another aspect that comes to mind as a depletor of wellness resources for Black bodies.
Existing in community is also essential, along with the healing force that shines through this alone. Community-based wellness is one that focuses on an extremely important but easily forgotten aspect — togetherness.
Over several human rights movements that continue to take place, common institutional tactics to destabilize Black activists were to infiltrate and destabilize their personal relationships. That is, powers that aim to divide seem to realize the unbeatable power and abilities generated through togetherness. So, its position as a unique healing force should likewise be continuously embraced.
Here are a few wonderful resources I’ve found that could help work towards this that are all campus and/or Lower Mainland based:
Free 24/7 counseling & potential referrals for BC post-secondary students. Accessible anywhere in the world!
Many will already be familiar with this, but I’d like to draw attention to the virtual group counselling which can be extremely helpful and supportive, especially in these more isolated times.
UBC Student Assistance Program
Free multi-faceted support & advice for students with tons of intake & referral options available.
Yogini, educator, and artist, Kendra Coupland’s Black Community Wellness Retreat gained well-deserved recognition over the summer due to various factors, including its centralization of Black bodies and the fact that very few of such opportunities exist for that. Another series hosted by the artist is Spiritual Wellness with Black Bodies that features yoga & restorative movement to centralize healing for Black folks. In this series, Coupland also features community conversations which are discussions surrounding the contemporary realities of existing in Black bodies. Coupland offers many more wellness sessions and workshops, some of which have been hosted by the SVPRO, and they can all be found on her website.
Desiree Dawson is a yoga teacher, singer, songwriter & recording artist from Vancouver. With her art, Dawson emphasizes the role of music in healing and helping individuals reconnect to themselves and the land they are on. In a session with Dawson, you’ll likely hear some of her soul-touching poetic works. Dawson also incorporates restorative movement into some of her work, and this serves to re-ground individuals and instill a sense of wellness.
Coupland, Dawson, and many other BIPOC wellness professionals in the Lower Mainland are featured on Healing in Colour. Healing in Colour is a digital directory containing what I would describe as culturally competent BIPOC wellness resources. In addition to wellness professionals, it also contains a directory of therapists that have agreed to their statement of values, which include promoting an anti-oppressive practice and personal values, shining through practice, to include pro-Black, pro-Queer, pro-trans, pro-sex worker, and anti-colonial approaches.
In a year that instilled the need for healing more than most others, here’s to hoping we find sustainable, connection-focused opportunities to take good care of ourselves and each other. In a year that also taught many that you can be Black and mentally ill, processing trauma while buttoning a blouse for a Zoom job interview, protesting the world’s injustices and going right back home to face all your own — we need to make sure we’re filling our own cups. It is a must to take care of yourself in order to advocate for others effectively. We have to top ourselves up to be able to leave others’ cups overflowing.