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A scouting organization for young girls in Canada is renaming their Brownies branch, vowing to be more inclusive after concerns the term can cause harm to girls.

“It is clear that this change is the right thing to do – Girl Guides cannot be represented by a term that causes any girl harm,” CEO of Girl Guides of Canada, Jill Zelmanovits, said in a statement Tuesday, according to The Globe and Mail. 

“Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion at Girl Guides calls on us to listen to the lived experiences of racialized girls and take action to safeguard these commitments,” Zelmanovits continued. 

“It’s imperative that no part of Guiding causes harm to the girls we serve.”

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Girl Guides were among the guests at a Corner Brook civic reception for Queen Elizabeth II in 1978.

Girl Guides were among the guests at a Corner Brook civic reception for Queen Elizabeth II in 1978.
(Boris Spremo/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Girl Guides of Canada is a founding member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and was founded in 1910. The Brownie is a branch of Girl Guides that teaches outdoor safety and other life skills to girls ages 7-8. 

Zelmanovits said that concerns over the Brownies’ name were first brought to the organization’s attention at the start of the pandemic, with some saying they would skip joining the Brownies and wait until a girl was 9 years old to join Girl Guides. 

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“We heard from several members and former members that the name Brownies has caused them personal harm, so we are changing the name of this branch to further remove barriers for belonging for racialized girls and women,” Zelmanovits said.

Jill Zelmanovits speaks onstage at the United Nations Every Woman Every Child Dinner 2012 on Sept. 25, 2012 in New York.

Jill Zelmanovits speaks onstage at the United Nations Every Woman Every Child Dinner 2012 on Sept. 25, 2012 in New York.
( Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

The organization then worked to come up with two other names they felt were more inclusive. The official new name will not be announced until January and will then take effect in September.

“The only thing that’s changing is the name. And what we’re hoping is that the change will actually mean that more girls will be able to create the memories that so many women across Canada hold so close to their hearts,” Zelmanovits said, according to The Globe and Mail. 

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Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper greets local Girl Guides after arriving in Whitehorse, Yukon, Aug. 18, 2013. Harper is taking part in his annual tour of Northern Canada.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper greets local Girl Guides after arriving in Whitehorse, Yukon, Aug. 18, 2013. Harper is taking part in his annual tour of Northern Canada.
(REUTERS/Chris Wattie )

Girl Guides has previously taken other steps leaders felt allowed for an inclusive environment, including accepting transgender girls into the organization.

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“Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada (GGC) recognizes and values the richness of human diversity in its many forms, and therefore strives to ensure environments where girls and women from all walks of life, identities, and lived experiences feel a sense of belonging and can participate fully. As such, persons who live their lives as females are welcome to join GGC,” the organization’s guidelines for the inclusion of transgender members states.

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