The Canadian equivalent of the Girl Scouts is dropping the name “Brownie,” the membership branch of some of its younger Scouts, after current and former scouts worried it could hurt black members and girls in color
Now, the 7- and 8-year-old members of the Girl Guides of Canada will be called Embers, a name chosen with the help of current adult Scouts and alumni. Other scouting organizations, including the Girl Scouts of the USA, still use the name Brownies, but the origin of the word itself is less important than the way it made girls feel, said the CEO of Girl Guides of Canada, Jill Zelmanovits, in a statement.
Girl Guides of Canada said it made the change after members said the previous name was offensive to them: “This was a name that made them feel extremely uncomfortable, caused jokes and racist comments, and was a barrier to feeling like they belonged in Girl Guides.”
“Some do not want to be part of this branch because of the name,” the organization said. “Some girls decide to skip this branch altogether or delay joining Girl Guides until after this branch.”
Girl Guide troops are expected to begin using the Embers name immediately, according to Girl Guides, with updated Embers materials and uniforms to follow.
The Brownies began as a member of the Girlguiding UK scouting group – a Girl Guides Association was established in 1909. The Brownies (originally called Rosebuds) came about so that girls under 11 could take part.
Many major scouting organizations in the West have adopted the name in the following years, including the Girl Guides of Canada and the Girl Scouts of the USA. The latter organization uses the name Brownie for its second and third degree members.
Both Girl Guides and Girl Scouts have pledged to become “anti-racist organisations” by 2020. “We are dedicated to delivering on this commitment and are currently evaluating all aspects of our program to ensure alignment with that commitment,” said the Girl Scouts. of the US in a statement to CNN.
The group noted that it supported its “sister organizations around the world to make decisions that better reflect the well-being and intentions of their communities and, most importantly, girls.”