Emily Mills gathered 150 black women for a massive photo shoot in Toronto that not only captured the women but their "range of professions, life experiences and perspectives."
HERstory in Black is a digital photo series spearheaded by Mills, a senior communications officer at the CBC as well as the founder of How She Hustles, a network of 5,000 diverse women. Over the course of the week, CBC will profile several women who took part in the photo shoot online, on CBC Radio as well as on CBC News Network. You can also explore their stories in this interactive mosaic.
Mills said the contributions of black women in the Greater Toronto Area may not be widely visible and represented so she wanted to celebrate and reflect their stories in an eye-catching and impactful way.
"There are women in this city who may not have titles, who may not work at a corporation, who may not lead up an organization that is widely recognized, but yet they are incredible influencers," she said.
"They are making things happen in the city that I see, but I'm not sure everyone else sees."
For Mills, part of the beauty of the photo project is the range of women who took part, including an architect, mechanical engineer and tattoo artist, to name a few.
"Here are some women who are doing things now and really, I think these are women who are going to be doing things next," she said. "History can be made by all of us in simple ways."
During the photo shoot, emotions were high, she said, and so was camaraderie.
"I think it's important for people to look at this picture and see an image of success and sisterhood. But I also think it's important for people to look at this image and think how much struggle have some of these women gone through, how much of their story might not be so triumphant."
Mills said she also wanted to broaden what constitutes "success" and commemorate the women who make small but mighty and meaningful change to their communities.
"Success is many different things. It doesn't only mean that you have a corner office and a PhD."
"For me, I really hope that I'm helping to make HERstory by showing the city and this country a different face of leadership."