February is an opportunity for focused and intentional reflection and recognition of Black history and achievement. In honour of that, we will be featuring a couple Black-owned businesses here in Kelowna to not only showcase their services but also develop an understanding of their journeys thus far, and how they navigate the realities of being Black business owners.
The first feature in this series is a counselling space and service hub for IBPOC and/or 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals in the Syilx Okanagan called, This Space Belongs To You.
About the business
Currently operating under the Living Positive Centre, This Space Belongs To You or This Space is a non-profit foundation committed to providing safe and inclusive spaces and resources for IBPOC and/or 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals ages 12 to 24. They operate from an anti-oppressive, trauma-informed, anti-racist, decolonial, and intersectional lens, and aim to provide free, equitable, and transformative care.
Their services include individual and group counselling, peer support, and gender-affirming wear programs. All counsellors identify as queer and/or as people of colour (POC).
I sat down with This Space founder, Meaghan Duckett, to hear more about her journey and experience thus far.
Meaghan, a queer and biracial person herself, has a social work background and has been working in the field for almost a decade. While living in Ontario, she saw a rise in violence against queer and Black communities. Seeing the disparities in the social service system, she was prompted to make her own systems with inclusive and accessible services.
Navigating the challenges of being a Black business owner
Meaghan admits that the biggest challenge for This Space thus far has been maintaining ongoing and sustainable funding. She pointed out that “a lot of queer and IBPOC services continue to be chronically underfunded in British Columbia.” Furthermore, she says that “the system is also not built for queer people and for people of colour, which is a barrier in itself.” Despite those challenges, the team has managed to receive funding from the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation.
When asked how she navigates funding challenges, she says that she “continues to believe in the services provided” and feels empowered that they are available to the people who need them as “accessing any form of social service support is dangerous for many marginalized groups.” She remains committed to advocating that POC and queer people deserve to have services that value and honour their unique needs and “spaces that amplify their voices.” She finds strength from other counsellors and her community. She is also thankful to the POC and queer pioneers that have come before her and those standing with her, saying “I feel their power and strength.”
When asked what she wished people and students knew and understood about her experience, she said, “I wish that queer and IBPOC business owners knew that they can do it too. The system tells us that we can’t and continues to push against us, but we are capable of being in leadership roles. We are capable of building services and businesses and empires in this community.”
How can you support them?
Meaghan welcomes feedback or ideas from community members about what they want the services to look like, saying, “we want the voices of a lot of people.” This Space is also accepting clothing donations for gender-affirming wear programs.
To learn more about This Space Belongs To You, check out their website and follow them on Instagram @ThisSpaceBelongsToYou.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ideja Efendija is a a third-year international student majoring in International Relations. Originally from Kosovo, she’s lived most of her life in Kenya. She is passionate about politics, Lana Del Rey, and language learning. As a student content creator, she hopes to create content that entertains and fosters community at UBCO.