Canada Girl Guides drops 'Brownies' name after it's deemed offensive

  • Published
the new embers logoImage source, Girl Guides of Canada

The Girl Guides of Canada has renamed the "Brownies" branch - who are now called the "Embers" - after the old name was deemed too racially divisive.

"Embers are full of potential and when they work together, they can ignite a powerful flame!" the Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) tweeted on Wednesday.

The group said in November that the old name had caused "harm" to some minority members, and kept girls from joining.

CEO Jill Zelmanovits says the girls have been very open to the name change.

"After hearing from our girl, youth and adult members, it was resoundingly clear that this was the preferred choice," Mrs Zelmanovits said in a news release.

"We can't wait to keep bringing the magic of Girl Guides to girls ages seven and eight, now with the name Embers."

The decision came after input from current and former members, who said that the previous name "caused harm and was a barrier to belonging for racialised girls and women".

The release added that applications have increased since November, after the group's decision to become "more inclusive for their daughters".

The GGC says that the new name should be used immediately, but it will take until September for it to be fully adopted in merchandise and gear.

The Embers join the other GGC branches, including the Sparks (ages five to six), Guides (ages nine to 11), Pathfinders (ages 12 to 14) and Rangers (ages 15 to 17).

The Brownies were formed in England in 1914 as girls sought their own version of the Scouts.

They were originally called the Rosebuds - a name that did not survive long - and today members earn badges for activities like crime prevention and science investigation.

"This wasn't just about a name or its origin," Mrs Zelmanovits added. "This was about the fact that girls experienced racism and felt that they weren't welcome in Girl Guides."

Media caption,

Ann Philips recalls a life involved in the Brownie Guide movement

Related Topics