New period boxes feature work by Black artists in Waterloo region

Changing the Flow, a menstrual equity group in Waterloo region, is unveiling two new period boxes that feature work by two Black artists. The idea is to bring attention to the boxes in local washrooms with the artwork and also make people aware of the issue of period equity.

'When they look at the box, I want them to see that there is unity,' artist A. Decker says

This period box is called No Shame In My Flow Game and was designed by A. Decker, a Black artist from Cambridge. (Changing the Flow)

Local artist A. Decker knows what it's like to lean over to a friend at a party or while in school and whisper, "Do you have a pad or tampon?"

It's why she says she's thrilled to be part of a new project from the Waterloo region-based menstrual equity group Changing the Flow that features a piece of her artwork on a box that will go in bathrooms around the community.

The box she designed shows two Black hands grasped amid colours of pink, purple and blue.

"When they look at the box, I want them to see that there is unity. I want them to see that you're not alone," Decker told CBC News. "I want them to see that it's not something to be ashamed of."

On Tuesday, 50 boxes featuring two different artists will be distributed. Among those getting the initial boxes are Juici Yoga, Sanguen Health Centre, Spectrum Waterloo Region's Rainbow Community Space and Kitchener Centre MPP Laura Mae Lindo's office.

An artist using the pseudonym Anon Neemuswr designed the second box.

Boxes support artists, raise awareness

Kevin Hiebert, the organization's co-founder, said the project had two goals:

  1. To support artists from underrepresented communities.
  2. Help destigmatize menstruation by getting people to talk about it.

"We felt that by having boxes that are attractive based on the art, they will draw attention for the reason of the art primarily and secondary as, 'Oh, what's going on behind those period products?'" he said.

"Certainly in the longer term, we really want to see organizations, businesses, municipalities, schools, really anybody that has a public washroom should be figuring out how we get period products available for folks who might need them."

He says in the past few years, there have been more open conversations about getting period products into washrooms in schools and municipal buildings. But, he adds, there's more work to be done.

This box is called Let’s Talk About It. It was designed by a Black artist from Waterloo region who is identified by the pseudonym Anon Neemuswr. (Changing the Flow)

He likened the journey to menstrual equity as a trip from Toronto to Vancouver. 

Currently, he said, "you've got to Windsor."

"So you're closer, but you are way, way far away still from the goal," he said.

Artist hopes box 'received with love'

Decker says in her experience, family and friends don't talk about having their period.

"It's almost like it's not a classy thing to talk about it," she said.

Decker titled her art No Shame In My Flow Game. 

"I hope it's received with love," she said. "That's how I want my art to be projected, both that they feel comfort and they feel happy to see, that it just feels relatable."

The boxes are also for sale through the group's website. The 50 boxes being handed out this week were paid for through a Community Impact project, which was partially funded by the KW Awesome Foundation.

As well, Changing the Flow is hosting an online menstrual equity talk on Tuesday at noon. People need to sign up through the group's website.

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.

A banner of upturned fists, with the words 'Being Black in Canada'.