Take Action to Support EQUITY for Black, Indigenous STUDENTS of Color

Updated: Sep 24, 2021


Jillian Harris is a mother, fiancé, storyteller, and quintessential busy-bee who pours her heart and soul into every endeavor. She is the Founder and Creative Director of Jillian Harris Design and The Jilly Academy, Co-Author of Fraiche Food Full Hearts and Co-Founder of The Jilly Box. Jillian is passionate about love, family, philanthropy, advocacy, fashion, food, decor and much more.


Interview by Denise Young


Jillian Harris, Co-Founder of the Jilly Box, is taking action and would like to reach out to the Women in Leadership (WIL) community to support her call to action. Each quarter she donates a portion of the proceeds from the Jilly Box sales to a charitable organization. They have supported the critical work of numerous non-profit organizations. Jillian is pleased to establish an award fund to provide financial support and mentorship opportunities to underrepresented and marginalized students in pursuit of academic success. The Jilly Box Award will be open to Black, Indigenous and People of Colour students at Okanagan College. With the goal of reaching $50,000 by the end of the fall 2021 semester, the Jilly Box made an initial donation of $15,000 and has matched donations from the community by adding $10,000 to the fund, enhancing the impact of each donor’s gift.


This initiative directly targets the social issue of racial equity. The Jilly Box team is determined to help create a more equitable and fair society as they know the important role education plays in achieving this vision.


Jillian has faced many challenges and areas in need of improvement in her life, but she credits her amazing family, an incredible team, and an awesome community to support and cheer her on when she needed it. We asked Jillian how challenging it has been for her to learn about diversity and act on it? “In 2020, when I was "called in" for having a lack of diversity on my team, it took me a while to understand what the problem was. I invested in intensive training for myself and my team and we underwent a lot of learning and unlearning to realize how problematic unconscious bias is and how it perpetuates harm. It may seem simplistic, but it is hard work. The best way to uncover your own unconscious biases is deep self-reflection. And we are only in the beginning.”


Team Jilly and Team Jilly Box, are determined to do what they can to help create a more equitable and fair society. While looking for ways to implement their team’s vision, they decided that a scholarship was an equitable solution to allocate resources specifically for historically oppressed and marginalized people. Jillian spoke about the legacy that her and her team want to leave. “I am aware that a lot of historical injustices cannot be undone and that we may not get it right every time, but I am confident that if we make a coordinated effort, we can create equity for generations to come”.


To learn more about the Team Jilly Box Award and how to donate, we asked Jillian:


Why was BIPOC and Okanagan College Chosen for This Award?

“Black and Indigenous and People of Colour have historically been disenfranchised; it is important for every community to acknowledge this and actively seek opportunities for reconciliation”.


Most of the Jilly Box team, including her family, live in Kelowna. They wanted to start this initiative in an area that was close to home and near and dear to their hearts. They love being able to support the local community and get involved in mentorship opportunities that they can support and watch grow.

What is the Benefit and Goal of This Award?

The goal is to raise $50,000, which would award twenty student bursaries of $2,500 each. These bursaries will help to ease some of their financial burdens as they pursue their educational endeavors. Jillian shared, “we would love to see this award fund grow to become a self-sustaining fund that can grant additional and more substantial awards for years to come. We want to inspire more philanthropists and investors to invest in this scholarship and more just like it!”


What are the different ways people can donate?

Donations can be made via The Jilly Box website (www.jillybox.com ) through October 17th or via https://trellis.org/jilly-box-award after that!


More About Jillian Harris… Her Passion and Entrepreneurship Advice...

“One of my biggest passions is my family and they are certainly one of the main reasons why I get up in the morning (mainly because there is no more room in our bed between Justin, Leo, Annie, Nacho and Peaches!). Joking aside, I honestly don’t know what I would do without them and their undying love and support. In addition to my family, I absolutely love what I do. I am so grateful for the platform I have and for the incredible community that surrounds me. Not to mention, I couldn’t do any of it without the help of my amazing team!”


As a successful entrepreneur, what is your advice on how to start?

Don’t be afraid to try. And when things don’t turn out the way you imagined they would, pick yourself back up, shake it off and move in another direction. As Wayne Gretzky says; “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.


What other information or advice do you have for anyone who is struggling to find a path? Why do you feel education is so important?

Never stop learning and unlearning. Lean into your passions and pay attention to what lights you up. As they say, “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” - Confucius


Resources and More Information At:

Link to the Award Blog: https://jillianharris.com/the-jilly-box-award/

Link to make a donation through Jilly Box site: https://jillybox.com/products/charitable-donation

Link to make a donation through Trellis site: https://trellis.org/jilly-box-award


Link to sign up for WIL’s weekly newsletter at: https://www.womeninleadership.ca



Article written by Denise Young, WIL National Diversity and Inclusion Advisor and CEO and Consultant of Tiger’s Eye Advisory Group. Reach out to Denise (deniseyoung@tigerseye.ca) if you or your organization is interested in Diversity and Inclusion Programs, Leadership Workshops or Communication Strategic Planning.




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