As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to make waves in Canada and around the world, hope for change is blooming in Halifax.
Last month, Kolade Kolawole-Boboye and Makye Clayton shared with Global News their experiences of growing up Black in Halifax and the racism they have had to endure. The two young men met and became friends when they were kids at Hope Blooms, a non-profit that encourages Black youth in Halifax’s urban centre to positively impact the community and become change agents.
The young men’s stories have since resonated with the public, and donations came flooding into Hope Blooms in the weeks after their experiences were shared.
“Kolade and Makye’s story resonated with people… it sparked something in people. Now, the youth feel people are really taking action,” says Hope Blooms executive director Jessie Jollymore. “We’ve raised $10,000 — enough to expand the garden by double its size. This year, our target is to grow 5,000 pounds of food to provide for those impacted by food insecurity.”
Kolawole-Boboye was eight years old when he joined Hope Blooms. Now 20 years old, he continues to be inspired by the work the organization does.
“I just remember we started out with one little plot of garden, and now that we’re here… I call it the Hope Blooms campus,” he says. “It’s nice to have our own garden, greenhouse and our new space all in one general area.”
Hope Blooms engages youth from diverse ethnicities through experiential learning and entrepreneurship to create positive change. The organization has a 10,000-square-foot garden that provides organic fruits and vegetables free to the community.
That produce is also used to create the Hope Blooms salad dressing. Proceeds from salad dressing sales go toward an education fund for the kids to use when they graduate from the program.
The organization’s initiative has always been about giving back to the community, and now, the community Hope Blooms has always supported is giving back.
Sixteen-year-old Kayleigh Bowes was 11 when she joined Hope Blooms. Like Kolawole-Boboye and Clayton, she has also experienced anti-Black racism growing up in Halifax.
“People say Canada is innocent, but honestly, it’s not,” she says. “The Black Lives Matter (movement) right now is really great because even some of my close friends are realizing this is something that happens on a daily basis… and it’s really great that people are starting to notice and being aware and taking steps to be proactive about it.”
Bowes recalls recently receiving a message from a girl who, in lieu of presents for her 12th birthday, asked for donations to Hope Blooms and raised $100.
“It’s crazy how youth are willing to donate to us as well as adults,” she says. “It’s so great to see the community come together.”
“I just want to say thank you to all those people who donated,” Kolawole-Boboye says. “We were just trying to speak on a platform, and the reaction from it was like wow, people really want to help, people really care and people really want to take steps to the next and to the better.
“Anyone can say words,” he continues. “It’s what the actual intentions and what you do with those words… that’s what we want and that’s what everyone should be doing because that’s what is right.”
The money donated will go toward the Hope Blooms scholarship fund and the garden, which needs fresh soil, compost and plants for the season. Donations will also benefit the youth of Hope Blooms who are unable to visit the garden due to COVID-19 restrictions through at-home garden kits. Hope Blooms also uses funds to distribute youth food boxes every week that include healthy snacks.
To learn more about Hope Blooms or to make a donation, visit its website.