The ‘Brownies’ branch of Girl Guides Canada (GGC) will undergo a name change in the new year to ensure inclusion for all members.
Girl Guides says 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 for racialized girls and women.
“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,” Zelmanovits said. “It’s imperative that no part of Guiding causes harm to the girls we serve.”
Brownies is the branch of GGC intended for girls ages seven and eight. It teaches girls about outdoor safety, building with tools, gardening, camping fundamentals, and conflict management while creating healthy friendships.
Due to racial connotations related to the name, some girls skip the Brownies branch altogether or wait to join Girl Guides when they reach nine years old.
Founded in 1910, GGC has taken steps to be more inclusive in recent years by allowing transgender girls to participate in the program in 2015 and administering new T-shirt
uniforms in 2019.
Girl Guides plans to announce the new name in January with the change taking effect in September 2023.