Branch Name Change

Branch name change

Creating a place for girls to belong. Girl Guides of Canada is changing the name Brownies.

Girl Guides of Canada is changing the name of Brownies, our branch for 7-and-8-year-olds.

Taking this step means we are creating more inclusive spaces where racialized girls in Canada can feel welcome and proud to belong in Girl Guides. With this change, we hope even more girls will see Guiding as a space where they can just be themselves.

FAQs

NEW Choosing the new branch name

How are we choosing a new branch name?

Girl Guide members have a unique opportunity to take action and shape the future of Guiding by choosing their favourite branch name: Comets or Embers. Current members received an email with a link to have their say on the new branch name on November 29 and the selection process is open until December 13. In late January, we’ll be excited to announce a new branch name that unites all girls and women in Guiding.

What are the two shortlisted names?

The two shortlisted new branch names for 7-8-year-olds are Comets and Embers. Both names are inclusive, fun and reflect how girls see themselves in Guiding:

Comets inspire as they travel through space, reflecting light and boldly blazing a trail. If you keep your eyes on the night sky, they might even surprise you with a meteor shower.
Ember Crest

Embers may be small but they’re full of potential! They have energy within them just waiting to be unleashed, and when they work together, they can ignite a powerful flame.

Can I take part in the selection process?

Only current girl and adult members are invited to take part in the selection process. All current members received an email on November 29 with the link to select their favourite name. Please only complete the survey once.

If you are a current member of Girl Guides and did not receive the email, please check your spam folder before reaching out to info@girlguides.ca with your iMIS number.

Why are there only two names to choose from?

Comets and Embers are both inclusive, fun names that reflect how girls see themselves in Guiding. These potential names were developed in consultation with racialized girls in Guiding, the National Indigenous Advisory Circle, community partners and organizations, as well as GGC National Youth Council, Provincial Commissioners and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Facilitators.

I have an idea for a branch name. Why can’t I suggest another name?

The two shortlisted names came from themes which were developed in consultation with racialized girls in Guiding, the National Indigenous Advisory Circle, community partners and organizations, as well as GGC National Youth Council, Provincial Commissioners and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Facilitators. These names also had to go through a copyright check and several other steps before we could present them as options.

Why do only current girl and adult members get to take part in the selection process?

We want to make sure we are hearing the voices of our current members, who are most directly impacted by this change, in the selection process for a new branch name. Having a say in the selection process for the new branch name is also a unique way for current members to join together and build excitement about the new name.

Why we’re changing this name

Why is Girl Guides changing the name of the branch for 7–8-year-olds?

As an organization driven by the experience of girls, Girl Guides of Canada must listen to girls’ voices. We have heard from members and former members that the name Brownies has caused them harm as racialized (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) girls and women. Some do not want to be part of this branch because of the name. Some girls choose to skip this branch altogether or delay joining Girl Guides until after this branch. This branch name is a barrier to racialized girls and women feeling part of the Guiding sisterhood and we cannot use a word that causes any girl harm. Part of the Girl Guide Promise is to ‘take action for a better world.’ Taking action by updating this branch name is an important step in creating a space where every girl feels that she belongs in Girl Guides.

How was the decision made to change the name of this branch?

It became clear that a change had to be made when we heard from past and current members that this branch name causes harm.

The issue was brought to the Board of Directors, who approved the decision to change this branch name. They emphatically agreed this was the right action to take to reduce harm to racialized girls and stand by our commitment to inclusion, equity and anti-racism. This decision is supported by Provincial Commissioners and the National Youth Council.

What kind of community consultation was done as part of this decision?

In the process of preparing to change this branch name, GGC has been consulting with racialized members, past members, and community members. Over the course of several months, GGC consulted with several community organizations from across the country that focus on issues predominately impacting racialized communities. Specifically, we sought their insights into how language impacts experiences and feelings of safety and belonging for girls, and how to thoughtfully implement this change. GGC also consulted with racialized girls to hear their thoughts around new names, resources for girls and Guiders, and considerations on where to prioritize support for members.

NEW How is the name harmful when it comes from folklore?

The name of this branch is not being changed because of its origins in folklore. This change is being made because of how this name makes girls and women feel. We heard from racialized girls that they didn’t like being called a Brownie. This was a name that made them feel extremely uncomfortable, prompted teasing and racist comments and was a barrier to feeling that they belong at Girl Guides. Continuing to use a name that we have been directly told by girls has caused them harm would go against everything that we stand for as an organization.

When is this change happening?

Announcement that branch name will change November 15, 2022
Selection process opens for current girl and adult members November 29, 2022
Selection process closes December 13, 2022
New branch name announced January 2023
New branch name updated across websites, programming, resources and other materials September 1, 2023

When will we start to see the new branch name online, in programming, resources, and other Guiding materials?

Shortly after the new name is announced, we will begin phasing in the new branch name throughout our resources, program portal, websites, iMIS, registration site, trainings, and all other materials. We will be prioritizing public-facing materials and materials for families, followed by unit materials.

While we’ll be doing our best to phase out the former name as quickly as possible, you can expect to see the old name in resources and online for a period of time. With many organizational resources to update, we anticipate missing some instances and ask for your patience and understanding. Please email inclusivity@girlguides.ca if you see a resource using the old name after September 1, 2023.

What will happen to program activities, badges and branch-specific elements like the Promise, Law and story?

The Promise, Law and song for this branch, along with program activities and badges will remain the same and will simply be updated with the new branch name over the course of the 2022-2023 Guiding year. Throughout this transition, the focus for all girls in Guiding remains on fun, friendship, exploring her world and sharing new experiences – this will not change.

There’ll be an exciting contest for girl members in early 2023 to be part of creating a new story for this branch.

Can members still wear shirts or crests with the old branch name?

Changing the name of this branch does not change members’ cherished memories and experiences as part of this branch. Acknowledging your nostalgia for your own experience by wearing or keeping branded Guiding gear with the old branch name is a personal choice. We’d ask members not to wear clothing with the old branch name after September 1, 2023 when representing GGC. If you have a crest with this name on a camp blanket or sash, be thoughtful about any presentations you might do with your blanket.

Should girls continue to wear their unit title tape on their badge sash with old branch name?

Members are encouraged to start wearing unit title tape with the new branch name as soon as they are able after the new name is announced in January 2023. By September 1, 2023, members should no longer wear title tape with the old branch name.

What resources are available for volunteers to support them through this change?

We know this is an important change for Guiding. We want our valued volunteers to have the information and support they need to understand and champion this change and be positive role models for girls in embracing the change and new branch name. Volunteers are invited to attend virtual info sessions, and have been provided with resources and programming to support their unit and answer questions from girls about this change.

I have memories of this branch level and am finding it hard to adjust to this change. Why are we changing a name that has been used for so long?

We know that many girls and women have cherished memories and value their experiences as part of this branch, but we cannot continue to do things that are harmful to others. We have to adapt our practices to prioritize inclusivity and we will continue to do so.

By making this change, we are working towards what we value most in Guiding – creating inclusive spaces where all girls can feel like they belong. The magic of the branch will continue under a different name that makes girls feel more welcome and will build the feeling of belonging.

We look forward to creating new experiences together which make all girls feel welcome.

I have questions about this change – who can I contact?

Please reach out to inclusivity@girlguides.ca.

Adult members: Please see our full list of resources on Member Zone.

I am a racialized member who has experienced harm due to this branch name. Is there someone I can speak to about my experience?

Girl Guides had said that all girls and women would be accepted, respected and included, but we know that has not always been true.

If you have experienced harm in Girl Guides due to this branch name, please email inclusivity@girlguides.ca and we will connect you with the counselling supports we are making available as part of this branch name change.

Read our full press release.

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