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Raising a Black child: How a Toronto woman's quest turned into a worldwide movement

Black moms descend on Toronto for first global gathering

Tanya Hayles, the founder of Black Moms Connection, a platform for black mothers to support each other.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

Tanya Hayles, the founder of Black Moms Connection, a platform for black mothers to support each other.

When Tanya Hayles had her baby boy four years ago, she turned to a number of online groups for basic motherhood advice.

It quickly became apparent that as a single Black mother the general resources available didn't have all the answers she needed.

"Things like, what kind of sunscreen do I apply to his brown skin? Or what type of hair product to use after he's been in a pool?" she said. "It's just very different from culture to culture."

She also knew that questions would become tougher to answer as her son grew older. How should she react, for example, if her son was racially bullied at school? Or, how should she explain police carding or racial profiling?

That's when she decided to reach out to a few Black mothers in the community. About 20 of them in the GTA started an online platform in 2015, which they called Black Moms Connection. The group has since grown to nearly 4,000 members, mostly from Canada and the United States but also as far away as Japan, Nigeria, Kenya and the Caribbean.

The group's inaugural conference brought hundreds of them together in Toronto this Sunday. More get-togethers will be planned in the future.

"It's amazing. That whole thing of 'it takes a village to raise a child.' I just wanted to get back to that. And now look," said Hayles.

Hayles said the growing "racial shift" has made it more exhausting to be a Black mother, especially in the US and Canada with incidents of anti-Black racism and police discrimination on the rise.

"People have biases. They have fear of Black men, and my son is going to face that. Another mom doesn't have to worry about their son being accepted in society, but I have to," she said.

"Our kids don't have the ability to be just kids. They are treated as adults way early."

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