Black Women of Forward Action (BWFA), a group focused on enriching and educating the Windsor community, is currently in pre-production for its first documentary about being Black in Windsor-Essex. The documentary aims to help the public understand the racism and prejudices Black people in the community have faced and continue to experience, by showcasing local and personal stories.
"Canada has this reputation of being [unbiased], non-racist," said the co-founder of BWFA and producer of the documentary Angelina Ebegbuzie. "Canada is a beautiful place to be in, but ... because people have that bias in their mind and think that Canada does not have racism, they don't think there's anything that they need to change or even pursue."
"So, with this documentary, we wanted to let people understand personal stories of people who basically are your neighbour, are your friend, a child that maybe that you teach in school ... of what really goes on and what they've been facing in Windsor specifically, in this documentary, but in Canada in general."
This initiative comes weeks after the death of George Floyd, which resulted in a global wave of Black Lives Matter protests.
Ebegbuzie said now is the perfect time for the documentary, since people are self-reflecting at home.
"I think people are now more open because once they saw George Floyd and they saw Regis [Korchinski-Paquet] and all these things that are happening, it was like, 'Oh wait, this is really happening,'" she said. "It's been happening all the time, but you actually took time out of your day now to actually sit there and understand it and feel more empathy and pain for your fellow human being."
While the call out deadline for the documentary has passed, Ebegbuzie said they're still looking for more voices and support.
One of the participants in the film, Jolie Katembo, said she's excited to be sharing her story.
"It's honestly a great opportunity ... to be part of this documentary and this project, due to the fact that there's so much work that needs to be done in the community, specifically for the Black community," she said.
Katembo, who first came to Canada when she was seven, said she didn't realize she experienced racism while growing up until years later.
"There were people that were looking at me differently," she said. "Kids wiping themselves off in the hallway if I bumped into [them].
"I never understood why sometimes I'd walk into a room and the room goes quiet. And everybody's looking at me and whispering."
Katembo recalls the times when people would tell her things like, "You're too pretty for a black girl, are you mixed?" and "Why don't you have an accent?" or "Your nose is smaller than the regular black people" or "Why do you don't talk ghetto?"
She said right now, the Black community is really suffering and she hopes the film will bring in real change to Windsor-Essex.
"It's not a broken system. I don't really call it a broken system anymore. It's more of a system that wasn't made for us specifically," she said.
Katembo said it's a "great feeling" to be able to share her experiences.
"I get the chance to tell a story that a lot of people are going through," she said.
Anyone can help with the making of the film by volunteering or donating.
"It's a Black film about the Black experience in Windsor, but it's something to bring us all together and to work together because that's the final goal of what we want," Ebegbuzie said.
While BWFA's documentary is still currently in pre-production, the organization hopes to start filming later in July while still following health and safety measures and practicing physical distancing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.