DESTA and BMHC MTL (Black Mental Health Connections Montreal) have come together to develop Black Joy Sundays; a monthly community gathering with mental health resources and social activities incorporated. Black Joy Sundays are intended to be educational, empowering, and are meant to be a platform to help members of the African-diaspora discover their personal joy.
BJS will directly interrupt factors that negatively impact the mental health within these communities, and direct them towards healthy and possibly new ways of coping with everyday stressors, leading participants on the path towards a better quality of life. BJS is a free, low-barrier program that allows us to connect leaders, practitioners, and other members in the Black community with each other in a genuine, and vulnerable setting that destigmatizes mental health and encourages collective healing.
May 15th, Black Joy Sundays: Yoga & Selfcare:
Our 1st session will start with a Hatha Yoga session led by Kesha @yogawithkesha, followed by a BMHC-led workshop on self-care and understanding the body’s ways of communicating its needs. We’ll be discussing what self-evaluation can look like, how to advocate for one’s self, and what building or re-building self trust can look like.
June 19th, Black Joy Sundays: Self-Discovery & Drama Therapy:
Our second session will start with a drama therapy activity led by Kathleen Charles.There will be improvisational acting exercises as well as collective activities. We will be practicing letting go and being carefree with others through play, which also reinforces communal and interpersonal connections.
Afterwards we will discuss cultural, intergenerational and societal expectations and how they hinder us from feeling and expressing genuine joy, and carefreeness. We will start exploring limiting beliefs, and stereotypes pushed onto us and how they impact the way we view ourselves, and by extension how they impact our mental health.
July 17th, Black Joy Sundays: Hiking & Authenticity:
Our third session will be a full day hiking experience led by Hike MTL. We will meet at DESTA for 10:30 am, and then we will head to Alfred-Kelly Nature Reserve by bus. This will be an introduction to hiking, so people of all skill levels are welcome. We will practice embracing nature as well as the feelings that come up during this hike, which will also reinforce self-acceptance and authenticity.
Afterwards, we will discuss themes of exploration, creativity, connection to the land, embracing nature, embracing shadow self, shadow self integration, as well as connecting to our emotions and true self. We aim to release tension, be in the moment, practice gratefulness, disconnect from technology, and intentionally be in a space without obligations.
August 28th, Plant Care and Nurturing Your Growth
Our fourth session will start with a hydroponics and plantcare workshop activity led by Dominique Co-Founder of Hydroflora.There will be a tour at the Concordia Greenhouse, plantcare activities and everyone will get their own seedling to bring home.
Getting up close with plants, and learning about their gentle maintenance will help us think about what we need to nurture our own growth. We’ll be discussing emotional growth, as well as nurturing and maintaining beneficial mental health management.
September 18th, Kickboxing and Empowerment
Our fifth session will start with a MMA training workshop led by Christian Theodore.There will be a stretch, and warm up portion followed by exercises that will teach participants a combination of Muay thai, boxing, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. We will have fun navigating body movement, and learning our strengths.
Afterwards David Loiseau, former UFC fighter, will lead a conversation on navigating mental as a MMA fighter navigating high stress and high intensity scenarios, understanding yourself and moving beyond limiting beliefs, and the empowerment that comes from facing your fears.
October 16th, Meditation and Mindfulness
Our sixth session will start with a meditation workshop led by Fimo Mitchell. Fimo will lead us through an introduction to meditation practices, interacting with sound bowls and discussions about meditation practices themselves.
Afterwards we will discuss compassion for self, emotional processing, and non-judgment as ways of coping with everyday life, and managing difficult emotional experiences like grief and anger. Ultimately, carving more room out for joy.