Christmas '21

As the year rounds to an end, we bid, "Fare Thee Well," or is it, "Good Riddance!" to 2021.

Looking back, we see how we have grown.Whether through the clarity of light or the valley of shadows, we have discovered: we can live with less - in fact, we want to live with less - unnecessary things, including some people and their Tomfoolery; we can end the art of Settling for What Is as we shift our paradigm toward our true calling. We downsized, downgraded, sat in silence and strolled in nature. We discovered through the madness, the fear, the isolation, the pain that we could make it - we have made it -in spite of the tattered, oversized, well worn or minimally adorned clothing.

Here we are, still standing. 

 Through lessons learnt, we pin great hopes - with caution - onto 2022.

We look ahead and wonder, how will it be? Will we retain and remain true to our personal promises or will we return to What Was as those vows drift from our hearts like forgotten New Years resolutions?

The Richard Phibbs photo of Nya Gatbel (Banana Republic holiday campaign, #thenewbrlook) offers such a clear visual about 'Looking Forward,' it had to be our year end cover!

Not only is the image stunning, Nya is a queeniebrownmagazine.com Young Inspiration


This edition of queeniebrownmagazine.com is written to help inspire hope as well as encourage your exploration of The True Self yearning to emerge. We share with you three individuals who found a way, their way, to being their best selves. 

We hope their struggle, determination and realization gives you the strength you will need, today, and along the way into your future.


We send youLove.



Finding Yourself in Photography

Growing up with a father who was angry with the world, and who took that anger out on those he loved, made Maria's childhood a horrible experience. From her earliest memories, she knew what madness could do to a family - to a soul. It was these episodes of madness that set a resilient and determined Maria on a path toward her two greatest loves: her children and photography. 

As she experienced cruelty, pain, and fear living with the unpredictability of a tormented father, Maria made a promise to a future self that her children would have a wonderful childhood. Maria recalls her early-teens being sad years as she often felt broken. A passionate, determined, young woman, Maria's father often punished what he labeled as 'her defiance.' One such occasion, etched into Maria's memory, is that of her father throwing away almost all of her childhood photographs.

Maria told queeniebrownmagazine.com,"I swore that when I had kids, I would take as many photos of them (as I could) to capture (their) wonderful moments." Maria also stated,"I lived through those (happy) moments with them, and experiencing (their life through their eyes) filled me... I do not carry anger within me."  Her father destroying most of childhood record, sparked what Maria identifies as, her "obsession with treasuring photos."

"I was very protective of the existing photographs that we had in photo albums." Maria said.
"I do recall in high school that I would have loved to go into photography, but I was never encouraged."

Maria held true to her promise of recording her children's childhood. She took such joy in it that photographing her children extended to recording everyday life in nature. Maria captured as many life experiences as she could through the lens of her camera. More than protecting the remaining images of her young self, Maria spent many hours on her computer playing with enhancing the colour of those old photos.

It was during this time in her life, Maria began to share her love of photography with those she most trusted. In turn, her close friends supported her passion. The greatest support appeared as a chance encounter with Winnipeg musical icon, Vince Fontaine. In 2012, Maria was out at a local restaurant with friends when the guitarist, Eagle & Hawk co-founder, Festival Curator, Multiple Music Award Winner walked into the same restaurant. Maria had met Vince seven months prior at his introductory show of his newly formed band, Indian City (inspired by Vince experiencing Carlos Santana's band at the Cattledome in Calgary). To her surprise, Vince not only remembered her, he was happy to join Maria and her friends. That was the beginning of what would become a longstanding friendship. Vince appreciated Maria's love of photography. He believed in her so much, he began sending her band photos on which she did colour corrections. In 2014, Maria began attending all the Indian City's gigs, making videos and taking photos that Vince used. 

This new found exposure lead to Maria experimenting with other digital techniques. She began adding overlays to images, creating unique visuals that created entirely different pictures from the original. By his request, Maria eventually did the artwork for Vince's Eagle & Hawk 'Liberty' cd.

"Mind you, the vision is his... I go about taking photos and then I bring it to edit and see what I come up with." Maria said, referencing trying her hand at album artwork. 

Obviously, Vince approved. Thursday, November 4th, 2021, Indian City released their eight song cd collection, 'Code Red'. It 
features acclaimed singers and musicians Don Amero, Jeremy Koz and Sandra Sutter, as well as Canadian music stars Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo), Chantal Kreviazuk and Chris Burke-Gaffney. "Code Red is an album to lift the heart, feed the soul and inspire us for what comes next," it says here: https://www.facebook.com/indiancity. Guess who did the cover.  

When asked how she would advise a young woman in the predicament she survived as a child, Maria admitted to finding that a difficult question. "I would ask if she knew how that abusive parent was brought up... and if she did not know, I might say, I bet it was not a joyful upbringing for them. I would tell her to find her closure and be the best person she could to herself... love herself, and know it was not her fault, and to not carry on that abusive cycle."

Maria took the horror that was her past, and turned it into artistic beauty.

We can only sit in awe and applaud you, Maria, as we say, "Thank-you."



Inspirational Sounds
Stand 17:28; Star People debut 25:18;
Smile 31:45; Wanna Be debut 36:26
Forgiving 43:52; Code Red 48:38


“I wanted to have light skin, I wanted to have straight hair, because that’s all I ever saw”.

Nya Gatbel




ReFraming Protecting Children While Saving Families:

 RECOVERING from the old system.



Clayton Greaves recently became the Director

for Diversity Equity and Inclusion with Family

and Children Services, Waterloo Region,

in Ontario Canada.


Currently, fifty-two child welfare organizations,

mandated by the government to protect children

from harm, exist in Ontario. Sadly, within the system,

a lack of knowledge and understanding related to

families of the African Diaspora, prevails. This lack,

coupled with anti- African sentiment as well as cultural ignorance, has resulted in an overrepresentation of African descended families involved with the system. Some organizations acknowledge an appalling 2 to 7 ratio of overrepresented families. This means, the child welfare system's determination to protect children has done so at the cost of these overrepresented families - resulting in significant harm within the African diaspora communities. This outcome is the exact opposite of this system's mission and value statements, and, in spite of their eventual attempts at outreach as well as acknowledging some cultural relevances, over-representation continues within these organizations.


These days, The System seems to have heard the cry of injustice made by community organizations, families in care, as well as staff belonging to the African Diaspora. Organizations are taking steps to shift their practice toward change. Clayton was hired to create this change, and he is determined to “re-imagine how the work is done.”


Clayton accepts responsibility of this great effort because he believes in, and has passion for, reclaiming African traditions forcibly removed from generations of the African Diaspora. As a twelve year old who immigrated to a land where kids insulted and wanted to fight him solely due to his pigmentation, where teachers underestimated is academic ability, and employers minimized his aptitude for leadership, Clayton fully comprehends the biases held by others who won't understand those they deem "different" from themselves. Decades of advocacy work in his scope of experience across Ontario, brought Clayton to where he is today. He is passionate about building relationships as well as establishing a service team to create change.

Clayton 's first action in his role was to name his team, "Harambee," Swahili for 'all pull together.' 

This name is, literally, of a different language, in turn, of a different philosophy from the (old) Child Welfare system. "When you break down a system what are you replacing it with?" Clayton challenges. He believes his African centric approach is "the best way to support families through beliefs that resonate with people." This approach is founded by "Claiming who we are and being grounded in our self." Clayton says. "An anchor in culture is a fundamental source of identity."


Clayton believes, work must be done through engagement to empower families that encounter the system then provide those families with support. His vision is to do so though 7 African principals, working from a model that understands, family is important to Black families. A concept seldom appreciated within the child welfare system. 


Identifying the 7 principals then using them - and only them - for 'doing the work,' is a rethinking of the current approach of removing a child from the family when the family experiences conflict. This rethinking is about "Umoja" (oo-mo-jah) - striving to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and heritage. Using the phrase, “I am because We are” or “I am we.” As opposed to dismantling, disrupting and destroying families there is a commitment to recognizing the value of family and community. This principle allows the child and family to know, "I am strong because I come from a strong community." 

"Kujichagulia" (koo-jee-chah-goo-lee-ah) - Self determination, defines the selves, names the selves, creates the selves, and knows the right as well as the ability to speak for the selves. This right empowers families with the perspective that they are the expert of their challenges. Clayton's team supports, guides, empowers families through the knowledge of 'the system.'

"Ujima" (oo-jee-mah) - collective work and responsibility to build and maintain community together is the understanding that there is not one problem in a family (i.e Mom, dad or child 'is bad'). This principle is knowing each family member carries a piece to making a difference within the family. This is where community support replaces family secrecy and the client's 'village members' are tapped in for reinforcement.

"Ujamaa" (oo-jah-mah-ah) - is about Coorperative Economics to build and maintain stores, shops, and other businesses within the community-  owned by community members - where the community profits from such businesses, together. This approach includes paying and valuing community professionals i.e. Black therapists; investing in their expertise so these individuals can (afford to) give back to their communities.

"Nia" - is to make a collective vocation, building and developing community in order to restore people to their traditional greatness. This practice encourages a 'looking within', and a setting of personal goals that are beneficial to the community. This idea might include asking clients what they may have put aside due to road blocks (like Clayton's high school guidance councillor trying to dissuade his university goals, for example). These blocks could very well contribute to family conflict due to built up resentment, anger, shame, sadness and other deep rooted emotions.  

"Kuumba" (koo-oom-bah ) - creativity - is to do the utmost possible, in the way possible, to leave the community more beautiful than inherited. This dedication is a particular focus for Clayton and his team, as the effort is to leave the family better off after the child welfare involvement. As mentioned, past practices by the system often worsened a family's circumstance by breaking down or dissolving the family. This practice includes allowing staff to explore ideas that could support families as opposed to restricting staff to their supervisors' (lack of?) imagination. This commitment encourages staff team members to be the best version of themselves - a better version of themselves than when they became involved with the family. 

"Imani" (ee-mah-nee) -  means fully believing in parents, teachers, leaders people and the righteousness as well as the victory of The Struggle; to have Faith in the possibility of the client by believing clients are more than the challenges presented, more than the label, more than the trouble, for example, the teen had gotten into. This principle is about seeing the worth of that individual/ family even if it means putting in that extra effort to believe in them. 


Many wait with anticipation to see how Clayton's effort will work. One member of his team said, "Clayton’s leadership brought language to feelings that we have had but did not know how to verbalize."

Clayton does not take credit for his approach. "This information is not mine. I did not make it up; it is inherent to us as a people... I pulled principles together to spark something - to spark a revolution where we focus on the best interest of the client. Staff must see 'this black person' as more than their pain, their struggle, their issues; their humanity must be seen. Clients are not a file, they are a name that is pronounced correctly... clients are more than a concerned call from the teacher, the hospital, the police… (these principles are) are about saying, "We see you BEYOND the flailing hands, BEYOND the anger, beyond the tears… "


We salute Clayton's philosophy because we, at queenienbrownmagazine.com, share it. We believe, this approach will benefit all children - all people of the world - to be seen for who they are: more than their pain, more than their defences, more than their challenges, MORE THAN their so-called, lack. This should be the way we work with ourselves, always. This is how we should work with each other.


“When I was a kid, my self-confidence was just all out of whack”

Nay Gatbel

Low Impact Exercise

Let's Move!

If you follow us on instagram you are familiar with our
Let's Move challenge. The idea is to keep the body moving to a place of physical wellness. Why? To quote an old clithe, 'your body is a temple.' While many of us cannot consider this reality, let alone accept it, WE, as in every living Being, deserve to exist in a temple. The word deserve is a strong declaration. In spite of the many negative messages to the contrary, by right of existence, we each and everyone of us, deserves to exist in a temple. We claim that right by treating our body - our self - well. One way of treating ourselves well is to be fit, so, let's be fit. Let's get moving!


Meet Nya Gatbel.

She made her modelling

debut in 2018 on the catwalks of Paris and Milan while still attending high school.


In a March 26th, CBC Calgary article, titled:

"Nya Gatbel: modelling for the best from Calgary,

Alberta," reporter Carmel Kilkenny wrote,  "Nya

(brought) to life the work of fashion greats such as

Giorgio Armani and Guy Laroche." 

Did we mention that Nya was only eighteen years old, at the time? 

Screen Shot 2021-11-25 at 6.32.48 PM.png

Now, this feat may not sound astonishing to some. After all, many of us have heard stories about young, stunning, individuals discovered in malls, cafes or while walking down the street then shooting to stardom. Though there are voices in the fashion industry that might say, eighteen is a tad "mature"  for starting a modelling career, few can dispute the extraordinary circumstance of a young talent launching from 'discovery' to 'Haute Couture,' the way Nya had.


Adding to her phenomenal career launch is Nya's story of her mother, father, older siblings and herself arriving in Canada as refugees from South Sudan. Like all immigrant parents, her parents were determined to provide a better life for herself and her sister. But, who could have imagined their child skyrocketing to, and sustaining, a top model status before graduating high school?

The best part of her story (which is not great until the modelling career took off), is Nya's experience being bullied for looking so very different from her classmates. You have read her quotes as you scrolled through the website. All quotes were remarks taken from her March 2018 interview. Reading them, makes it clear that not only was Nya bullied (for being tall and slim with very dark pigmentation), being bullied left her feeling isolated and far less than acceptable. 

Today, this internationally acclaimed, Elle, model experiences a completely different reality in the modelling world. Though she claimed that being bullied forced her to enter the fashion industry with "eyes wide opened," her treatment and acceptance has proven quite the contrary to her past schoolmates treatment of her. Fortunately for her, Nya's career took off in a time when the fashion industry - like so many other industries - are heeding the call for representation from ALL people.


Reading her Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/ngatbel/?hl=en, these days - over three years after her first fashion show - one can hear the enthusiasm, gratitude, and joy reflected in her entries.  


We, at quieeniebrownmagazine.com, are excited to hear more from this young, resilient, individual who is proud of to be a role model, blazing a trail for those daring to follow. It just goes to show that "hard knocks" can break you down or make you strong enough to face your incredibleness - it's just a question of "how do you chose to use those knocks?"

Are You Still Gift Shopping???

Here are some of Our Fave


Can one really go wrong with a cozy, throw? We think not.


A novelty for the young, a classic for the... mature. This So&Co Women's Crystal Studded Quartz watch is a go-to for any woman who likes bling!
Psst! Guys like watches, too.


PC Magazine lists a variety of VR headsets that can suit most any need. Whatever the style -or price point - you choose, MANY are the choices for the enthusiast.  


Lounge pants, sweats... they all rank highly for the season. Psst, women love to lounge and relax, too!

We have introduced this before but it this heated massager is that helpful for those low grade aches and pain.


The options are many... but remember you can never go wrong with cash - no matter what the age!


“Things are shifting, on the runway and everywhere else... I like the idea of being a role model. 

Nay Gatbel

Just Chillin'

This season is for The Self.

It is the time to
celebrate that which enhances YOU - that which allows room for the feeling of love. If family, friends, religious services or all the above is that for you, recognize your blessings. If spending time with strangers enhances your self, recognize your blessing. If spending time alone, treating yourself to your favourite meal and watching movies is your answer, recognize your blessings. Recognize the gift of loving yourself. 

At queeniebrownmagazine.com this is our fave time of year for it is a time of honouring the beautiful blending of what we call, "Our Gifts."

To me, one such gift is  following the longstanding family ritual my mother and her mother performed. The blending of vibrant, blood-red, colours with the aromas and tastes of cinnamon, ginger, wine as well as rum creating a drink called Sorrel.

Sorrel is sweet deliciousness popular as a Christmas drink in Jamaica and Caribbean cousins. 
The hibiscus flower hails from West Africa (is enjoyed year round by many African countries), and is soaked overnight, drained, then highlighted with CUPS of sugar and the flavours mentioned above. It is equally lovely as 
a healthy, refreshing, alcohol free delight. 

Join me, as I mindfully raise a glass to all Our Gifts that matter.


Sophia's Jamaican Sorrel.heic

One Last Thing...

Have You Taken YOUR Moment, yet?


Considering our extremely busy, extremely stressed out life, it is time to take it.  

Pause for a moment... Ponder you - just for a moment. Take two quick and one long breath in through your nose.... exhale SLOWLY  through your mouth. See yourself as your best self... in a perfect world....  you, at peace... what do you look like? See Yourself. Are you Sitting, standing, lying down?

Are you laughing, smiling? Are you alone or with others? Who are they?

See your body healthy, pain free... Feel it teaming with power, strength and energy. 

Hold that feeling... inhale slowly... exhale.

Remember to take your moment.

Declare Your Gratitude... now, go out in the world and LIVE. 

Previous Issues

QBM Spring 2019
QBM Premier Edition 2015
QBM Second Edition June 2015
QBM Summer Edition 2016
QBM December 2015
Christmas Edition 2017
QBM SS 2018
QBM Summer Entrepreneur Edition 2019
QBM Spring 2016
QBM Winter 2016
February Anniversary Edition 2018
QBM Summer 2017
QBM FW 2018

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