Black Joy Sundays

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.

Black Joy Sunday Highlights

May 15th, Yoga & Self-care:
Our first 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 will discuss 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, 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.

July 17th, 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.

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 helped us think about what we need to nurture our own growth.

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.

November 20th, Ancestral Dancing and Identity
Our seventh session will start with a dance workshop led by Kay Thellot. Kay will lead us through an introduction to different Ancestral movements and practices, and discussions about the incorporation of ancestral practices in everyday life. Afterward, we will discuss cultural, intergenerational, and societal expectations and how they hinder us from feeling and expressing genuine joy, and carefreeness.

January 22nd, Painting and Vulnerability
Our eighth session will start with a painting workshop led by Tanisha Mapp. She will lead us through expressing our creativity on canvas. Afterward, we will discuss the importance of vulnerability and being able to trust and lean on others in the community when we feel down or a little less able to manage our life and mental health.

February 19th, Ceramics and Self-Love
Our ninth session will start with a ceramics workshop led by Althea-Josephine Mamaril. Althea will lead us through an introduction to ceramics, and sculpting, while we create our own ancestral relics based on the things we value in ourselves and the world around us. Afterward, we will discuss barriers to self-love, how to cultivate it, and various ways it can be practiced within the Black community. 

March 19th, Food and Self-Determination
Our tenth session will start with an interactive cooking workshop led by Chef Evy Mendes of Cantine Toca Toca. Cooking for one’s self or others allows us to set an achievable goal. This fits within a type of therapy known as “behavioral activation.” Increasing someone’s contact with sources of reward, like accomplishing something in the kitchen, can raise self-esteem. Cooking also encourages patience and can be an emotionally freeing practice of waiting, watching, and knowing when to act. We will then discuss self-determination and how it allows people to feel that they have control over their choices and lives.

April 21st – 23rd, Black Joy Sundays presents RESTORATION
RESTORATION  is a rejuvenating and transformative weekend retreat at Le Couvent Val Morin, nestled in the stunning Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. This wellness retreat, taking place the weekend of April 21-23, offers the perfect opportunity to step away from the demands of daily life and focus on your well-being.

Created in partnership with DESTA Black Youth Network, Black Mental Health Connections Montreal, and When the Village Meditates, this culmination of our Black Joy Sundays series of events promises to offer an ideal space for members of the Black community to heal and restore. Our expert facilitators will guide you through a variety of workshops and experiences, including yoga, mindfulness practices, journaling exercises, guided nature walks and more. 

Meet Our Facilitators

Kesha Foster 
May 15th, Yoga & Self-care

Once a non-believer turned devoted Yogi, Kesha believes Yoga has the power to unite, transform and heal. She decided to pursue a life as a Yoga teacher in order to share the healing powers of Yoga, that helped to shape the person that she is today. She completed her first Yoga teacher training in 2010 and brings her own unique style and experience every time she enters the room to teach.

“As a Yoga teacher of colour, I’m honoured to have a platform to share what I think Yoga represents and proud to be an example for other people of colour to look up to.”

Kathleen Charles 
June 19th, Self-Discover & Drama Therapy

Kathleen Charles is a Haitian therapist in training and community organiser based in Tio’tia:ke (Montreal).

Kathleen is currently completing a Master’s in creative arts therapy at Concordia with a focus on how psychotherapy, supported by the arts, can align with more indigenous practices of healing in community.

As a drama therapist in training, Kathleen enjoys emphasizing imaginative playfulness in sessions, using techniques such as role play, storytelling, improvisation, dance, and creative games.

Jamillah Jean 
July 17th, Hiking & Authenticity

Jamillah Jean is the founder of Hike Mtl, a social enterprise of outdoor educational facilitators who curate excursions and experiences for all. Hike Mtl works to deliver high quality, fun, safe, and inclusive adventure based outdoor activities to a wide variety of user groups. Their biggest focus is to inspire more Black, racialized and marginalized people to reclaim their space outdoors.

With a career in social work and a background in education, Jamillah is a social advocate at heart who looks to break barriers, challenge the status quo and strive for social change. 

Dominique Smith 
August 28th, Plant Care and Nurturing Your Growth

Dominique Smith is the Educational Coordinator for HydroFlora and also serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the Concordia’s Greenhouse. As one of the founders of HydroFlora, he enjoys bringing different communities closer to nature. By greening urban spaces through educational and esthetic projects he hopes to spread the knowledge of urban agriculture. He gives weekly workshops on various horticulture subjects to help further engage with the community on the topic of farming. In his free time he loves relaxing and enjoying his home garden to unwind from the hustle and bustle of his daily life.

David Loiseau 
September 18th, Kickboxing and Empowerment

David Loiseau is a retired Professional mixed martial artist from Montreal, Quebec. He is the first French Canadian to ever compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (2003), the former UFC #1 contender, and a 3x MMA World Champion (TKO World Middleweight Champion, XMMA Middleweight World Champion, TPF Middleweight World Champion).

He is also the founder and owner of the Crow Training Center: a training center offering a unique experience for athletes of all levels looking to reach their full potential through martial arts.

Fimo Mitchell  
October 16th, Meditation and Mindfulness

Fimo Mitchell is a meditation teacher, a writer and a podcast host. He began meditating in 2009 during his first trip to India. Since then, he has spent thousands of hours in meditation and completed two mindfulness courses. Fimo is the founder of When The Village Meditates, a nonprofit dedicated to providing meditation programs, discussion groups and wellness retreats for racialized and marginalized people.

Last year, he released his third book titled Pastel Remembrances. Every Tuesday, he hosts the When The Village Meditates podcast featuring ten minutes of meditation followed by five minutes of insightful speech. 

Kay Thellot
November 20th, Ancestral Dancing

Kay Thellot, a practicing Manbo Asongwe of Vodou Ayisyen, is currently pursuing a Master’s in Counselling Psychology. With a Bachelor in Psychology and a 15-year social intervention career, Kay has focused her work with youth and their families through an empowerment lens by, among other actions, creating and leading workshops in community, artistic and spiritual spaces. Guided by this experience, Kay’s online platform Prensip Minokan is geared towards the work of juxtaposing and superimposing western and Haitian ancestral knowledge towards proposing Vodou Ayisyen as an inherently fully developed Afro-Indigenous decolonized option for wellness and healing. For more information, please visit

Tanisha Afiya Mapp  
January 22nd, Painting and Vulnerability

Tanisha Afiya Mapp is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. Her first connection to art was early childhood in Little Burgundy at Bible Way daycare. The young artist began painting under the table at nursery school every day and was drawn to art.

Mapp was also inspired by her mom, Francine Edghill, who was a photographer and an artist. Having a great passion for painting, she is well known for using exaggerated colors and embracing her ethnic culture.

Mapp best describes her work as “bright, dreamy, cultural
and black art”. Fascinated with symbolism, femininity, and dreams, Tanisha Mapp inspires her critics’ minds and has exhibited at the MMFA.

Althea-Josephine Mamaril 
February 19th, Ceramics and Self-Love

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Althea-Josephine Mamaril likes to say that her family origins are ”Pino noir”.

Self-taught artist since always, as well as a traveler thirsty for discoveries, she draws her inspiration during long stays in Spain, Ukraine, Italy where she carries out pictorial improvisations in the subway, in the street or on the beaches.

In Montreal, she produces a lot of drawings and paintings testifying to her own universe and power. In 2016, she made her first solo exhibition at CAP; In 2019, she also turned to sculpture which led her to enroll in the ceramics program of Concordia in September 2021.

Evy Mendes  
March 19th, Food and Self-Determination

Evy Mendes is a chemical engineer by day and a “chemist” in the kitchen, whose passion for veganizing food from her childhood, brought her the idea of Cantine Toca Toca. Evy’s vegan journey began while studying in a field where environmental issues, and poor sustainability practices in food production are major concerns. With flavours from Senegal to Guinea Bissau, her goal is to create an avant-garde & eco-responsible cuisine inspired by West African food staple dishes. Through Cantine Toca Toca, Evy will take you to an authentic adventure in the vegan food scene.

Cantine Toca Toca is named after the famous minibuses found in Guinea Bissau. It is also known as “taxi-brousse” in Francophone Africa or “chiva” in Colombia. “As a Black vegan, my idea behind Cantine Toca Toca is to offer plant-based alternatives & innovations inspired from West African cuisines. When we think about veganism or food in the western world, we often ignore African cuisines out of the conversation. There is so much stuff people are missing in terms of History and sustainability of these cuisines.”

Black Joy Sundays presents RESTORATION
Weekend Wellness Retreat, April 21st-23rd

RESTORATION is a rejuvenating and transformative weekend retreat at Le Couvent Val Morin, nestled in the stunning Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. Created in partnership with DESTA Black Youth Network, Black Mental Health Connections Montreal, and When the Village Meditates, our team and facilitators include Kassandra Kernisan guiding us through a Kemetic Yoga session, Fimo Mitchell guiding us through healing sound baths and meditation, Tanja Nachtigall guiding through a session of Yoga for Every Body and a Voice workshop, Aishah Seivwright guiding us through a Collective Healing workshop, and Chef T. Light preparing our delicious and holistic meals for the weekend.