Community Solidarity: Vanessa Simon, Asiyah Robinson + Pamphinette Buisa

Asiyah Robinson (left) and Pamphinette Buisa. Photo by Kris Westendrop.

by Athena McKenzie

Since connecting at the Black Lives Matter rallies last summer, organizers Vanessa Simon, Pamphinette Buisa and Asiyah Robinson have continued to meet.

“After the rally, there were so many conversations happening, and we were looking at how to use that momentum and bring it together,” Buisa says. “It was very important for us to showcase that solidarity, especially within the BIPOC community.”

The result was Capital BLACK (BIPOC Leaders Allies Community Knowledge), which the founders describe as an“ecosystem” with an ever-growing, ever-evolving membership, whose work has expanded beyond anti-racism to various issues within Victoria’s vulnerable communities.

“We’re not siloed; we’re not limited in our projects,” Robinson says. “There are so many sectors within this world that people had a passion for before they came to Capital BLACK. And all we’re doing is allowing those people to know that they have connections.”

Whether it’s helping out at the community tent at Beacon Hill Park, showing up for a rally or the opening of a community garden or tackling food insecurity, activities are approached through a decolonial lens.

“The greatest thing about this group is that it’s really fluid and adapts to what the community needs,” Robinson says.

Across all their actions is the belief that caring for the community will create the best possible future for everyone, regardless of race, age or background.

“We’re getting better, but we’re living in a time when people are just fixated on themselves — we live in an individualistic society,” Simon says. “What you’re experiencing isn’t going to be the same as someone else. Just be aware of that and be sensitive to that and be there for your neighbours. If you see someone struggling, help them out.”

Vanessa Simon at the Black Lives Matter rally in Victoria last June. Photo by Kris Westendrop.