All Welcome Here (AWH) was founded in 2019 by Judith Burfoot, a Black woman living, working and existing in Prince Edward County, Ontario. She saw the need for rural Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) to have a space to connect and network. She also saw a need in the wider County community for anti-racism work.
The population of Prince Edward County that identify as BIPOC is roughly 5% (1,250 of 24,000) or approximately 1 in 20 people (according to the 2016 census - StatsCan).
We are Indigenous, Black, South Asian, Latin American, etc. Our national origins are quite diverse and we are Mohawk, Jamaican, Japanese, Somali, Filipino, Mexican, Canadian, Trinidadian, Sri Lankan, Peruvian, Bajan, Korean, Egyptian, and more! The population of people of colour is growing every year and receives no focused services.
Anecdotally, we are hearing disturbing stories of racist incidents happening in our community and there a distinct lack of knowledge around racism and anti-racism. This includes incidents in employment, accommodations and in our schools. We believe that given the global rise in populism, now is the time to act to counter messages of hate and intolerance and to ensure the cohesion of our community.
In 2020, All Welcome Here formally incorporated as a nationally registered charity with a Board of Directors.
Image Credit: Susan Smythe-Bishop
All Welcome Here (AWH) is a non-profit organization focusing on linking people of colour in the rural community of Prince Edward County in order to provide support, social connectedness and business assistance.
Rural communities rely on knowing your neighbours and intense networking. It can be difficult for people of colour to access the existing networks here in The County. This may be due to geographical separation, structural racism, the prevalence of new arrivals, and/or other as yet unidentified factors.
Racism exists in The County. Racism exists in Ontario and in Canada. We are creating an organization that will proactively seek to support people of colour while connecting us to our local non-BIPOC neighbours.
This organization that will ensure that people of colour are not isolated and that white children and adults have the educational opportunities necessary to thrive in today’s global world.
Build the local network to help us connect and thrive
Conduct research to learn who we are and what are our experiences
AWH is focused on BIPOC but is conscious of the intersectionality of experience. We know that many of our members are also members of other communities. While they may not be our primary area of focus, we are firmly feminist, anti-ageist and LGBTQ+ positive. We support initiatives to improve accessibility for those with disabilities of all kinds and support people from all cultures, religions and nationalities.
Fern Dias (she/her) is of Goan Heritage. Born and Raised in Toronto to immigrant parents, she moved to Prince Edward County in 2012 after meeting her partner. In 2020 she graduated from York University with a double major in Human Rights and Equity studies and Canadian studies. Over the years, she has been involved with various social justice organizations bringing awareness to a variety of issues within the Canadian context. She looks forward to creating a more inclusive community and building on the diverse relationships already thriving here in the County.
Judith Burfoot is the founder of All Welcome Here. Judith is a Black woman (she/her) who moved to Prince Edward County with her family in 2009 to farm and provide a better life for her children. She has been active in anti-racist activities since her youth and been involved with efforts against apartheid, police violence/killings, sexism/homophobia within liberation movements, and addressing discrimination within institutions. Judith loves The County, believes in community and thrives on bringing people together.
Jessica Lindsay-Sonkin (she/her) is a mixed-race woman who moved to the area in 2010. Jessica is an experienced ECE and OCT certified Kindergarten teacher and holds a Master's degree in Child Study and Education. In her teaching, she works to centre inquiry-based learning, environmental education and social justice education. She also owns and operates a jals photography, a photography business with a focus on documenting weddings, elopements and families in the outdoors. A driving core value in her life is to facilitate safe spaces where people feel welcomed, relaxed and free to be themselves.
Delane (she/her) is a Dreamatizer, goldsmith and author who believes in giving back to and being part of community. As a result, she joined All Welcome Here. Outside of creating jewellery, Delane is President & Co-founder of the Lotus Hero Project, which helps to improve the mental health of children and adults through art where trauma had been experienced, and serves as a Board Director of the Toronto Art Therapy Institute. She has volunteered and held leadership roles in the jewellery community as President of the Metal Arts Guild of Canada and Managing Director for the Toronto International Jewellery Festival. Delane is Filipina (she/her). The Coopers have called Prince Edward County home since 2015 and are excited to try their hand at hugelkultur. Growing up as a Filipina with a Scottish foster mother and Assyrian foster father since the age of 15, Delane is passionate about diversity being embraced within community because diversity was embraced at home as a family.
Robin is a Brown man (he/him) born in Canada to immigrant Indian parents that has created a life which has taken him around the world through live performance production and culinary arts. Now he’s excited to call Prince Edward County home with his wife and dog family. It was only recently that he found his voice to be able to speak out, in support to the BIPOC, LGTBQ, disability, immigrant, sex worker and other marginalized communities. He believes that though there may be a lot of hate in the world, he (and you!) can make a difference in the community.