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 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 discussed 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.

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 prensipminokan.com.