Written by David Silverberg

“Inclusion is the entry point here. Diversity is also a key consideration.” Sulafa Silim is acknowledging what differentiates her social club for many others in the GTA. 

Whether the classes focus on yoga or storytelling or lengthy discussions on wellness (both physical and mental), Dawa Apothecary positions itself to value feminism, empathy and holistic approaches to healing, says Silim in an interview.

“We want people to connect to each other in a safe space,” she adds.

She also offers consultancy services, as her website explains, which include “leadership training modules, unit barometer checks and also immersive training and facilitation under all three areas: Health & Wellness / Diversity & Inclusion and its intersection.”

Silim also collaborated with other-like minded organizations, such as the Parkdale Centre for Innovation. “They are disrupting normative thinking of what startup culture should be,” she says of the Centre, where she taught several classes on digital media marketing.

She regularly works with corporate clients to assist HR managers to regard inclusivity as a vital piece in workplace culture. “I want to also ensure women of colour are advocated for in corporate Canada,” she adds.

Silim recalls how Dawa has been the end result of a lifelong journey which began at 12, when she was one of the few black girls in her private school, where she first learned “to culturally shrink one's self.”

Such marginalization, which only increased when she was bullied in the workplace, empowered Silim to launch her own social club for those whose voices weren't being heard as loudly as others.

“Sometimes it's hard to have authentic conversations with one another, and people just wanted to be treated as human beings. Creating wellness in the work culture is also so vital to me,” Silim says.

In the future, she would like to see Dawa flourish by partnering with other groups and collectives who share similar values and goals. “I'd love to curate more events that give women that space, those connections, that bring them into the fold,” she says.

Photo credit Zlatko Cetinic, Images Made Real