CBC Quebec is highlighting people from the province’s Black communities who are giving back, inspiring others and helping to shape our future. These are the Black Changemakers.
It was the spring of 2020. A global pandemic had just been declared; schools were closed, and nine-year-old Adriana Jackson was bored.
So she started a small online business, selling accessories such as bows, headbands and scrunchies.
“I just wanted to do something fun to keep me busy because I was just going to stay home all day,” Adriana said.
“I asked my parents if I could start my own boutique, and that’s how I started it. It was just a fun little thing we could do while we were on lockdown.”
Adriana started an online business to keep busy in the pandemic. (Submitted by Adriana Jackson)
Adriana also gives credit to both of her grandmothers. One of them taught her how to sew. The other sent her materials to work with.
“Sometimes my customers want certain bows, and maybe we don’t have them,” Adriana said. “It’s really fun to try and make new bows and make people happy.”
Schools were still closed around the time Adriana launched her boutique, but the city of Montreal was buzzing.
On June 6, 2020, tens of thousands of Montrealers gathered in protest, as part of a global movement to denounce anti-Black racism and police brutality.
Adriana took notice, and she wanted to be part of it.
“After what happened to George Floyd, I asked my parents what we could do to support the Black community,” she said.
“They said maybe we could go to peaceful protests.”
Adriana did that and went a step further.
She decided to donate some of the proceeds of her sales to local Black community organizations.
Harriet Tubman, U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris and former first lady Michelle Obama are among her inspirations.
Adriana prepares a collage of Kamala Harris, who she considers one of her idols. (Submitted by Adriana Jackson)
She said she hopes her business acumen and initiative are a first step toward carving a path of her own and persuading other younger people to get involved in social issues.
“I’m showing people that it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old,” she said. It’s never too soon or too late “to start your own business or make your dreams come true.”
She wants to see her business grow, but she said that will take time. Her parents say she can only run it part-time — on weekends and on holidays.
“School always comes first, before everything,” Adriana said. “Even my business.”
The Black Changemakers is a special series recognizing individuals who, regardless of background or industry, are driven to create a positive impact in their community. From tackling problems to showing small gestures of kindness on a daily basis, these changemakers are making a difference and inspiring others. Meet all the changemakers here.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.