Sis to Sis is a Toronto-based grassroots organization that supports young Black women and women of colour on their journey of self-love and self-development. The women behind this support group are in charge of creating fun and informative experiences that encourage community-building and learning. They’re committed to supporting stands both online, with their active social media accounts and virtual events and offline with in-person socials. Sis to Sis strives to create spaces that are filled with contextual conversations which integrate the cultural and lived experiences of our community. Black women and women of all colour unite as the Sis to Sis community hopes to breakdown societal and personal norms as females in Toronto.
As countless organizations take place in the city, Sistosis Toronto stands out as the founder’s story is unique. It wasn’t until recently the University of Toronto graduate, had the passionate idea to initiate a woman-based support group. Teshyla Bailey, a Rexdale native, is the Director and founder of Sistosis Toronto.
Grade School Life
As Teshyla attended grade school she always met with her girlfriends at recess and lunch breaks to talk about everything that was going on in their young lives, the bulk of excitement centred around our families and home life. Throughout Teshyla’s highschool years, her experience was a bit different. As dynamics shifted, friendships and girl talk became a lot more distant. It was during these stages she faced many challenges both academically and socially.
Entering University is when Teshyla notices her life started to connect full circle. She learned the language to describe the shared experiences of herself and her childhood friends, many of which were, in fact, magnitudes of complex trauma. Of those experiences, she decides to take charge and turn it into something positive. While completing her Sociology and Woman Studies degree at The University of Toronto, Teshyla gained knowledge on feminist discourse, the power of solidarity, and its impact on social change.
After graduating and years of hard work and dedication, Teshyla started volunteering with non-profit organizations that aimed to support women. Shortly after, she realized the participants and organizers of these spaces did not include many women that looked like herself. In an interview with S@Y News, Teshyla says,
“I knew I wanted to start something of my own, something I could relate to”.
This awakening sparked a new vision and drive. She began getting together with a few females, and then friends of friends, to connect around our shared lived experiences.
As months had passed, conversations on race, culture, and the unique realities of growing up in the Greater Toronto Area were brought up. Sitting with this community of women and listening to their concerns and stories made Teshyla notice she had been a mentor to them all along. With the intention to support and comfort these women, she started advertising “sessions” on her social media platforms. With their publicity expanding day by day, more women are inquiring about Teshyla’s services.
With hours of contemplation and decision-making, Teshyla needed a name for these group sessions. Ideas such as Sister to Sister and Together Sisters came to mind until she finally decided with Sis to Sis Toronto. Teshyla was solely determined on embracing the organization she had just created to be Toronto woman-focused.
Teshyla was fortunate enough to establish a platform as a non-profit organization.
Today, about a year since their first major event, the initiation proudly announced Sis To Sis Toronto had been granted funding from both municipal and provincial levels of government to carry this passion further and create new programs and events focused around personal development for young Black women and women of colour. The growing community intention is strongly about getting together with women that share similar experiences growing up in Toronto, finding support, and encouraging each other along the way.
Sis to Sis Toronto announced their newest program, The Personal Come Up, a continuation for their first run last September. It's 6 weeks of virtual experiences curated for Black women and women of colour to gain the right tools and community to support their personal development. This program will run from March 3 - April 7 on Wednesdays from 6-7:30 pm.
Check out the two-part podcast series where Teshyla share's her story from a whole new perspective!