Resilience - stories of single black mothers


Resilience: Stories of Single Black Mothers is an intimate, richly detailed documentary that confronts long-held stereotypes by stepping inside the lives of three real women in the real world.

With honesty, intelligence and humour, Nancy, Simone and Gloria reflect on their experiences of balancing single parenthood, working life, relationships and the fulfilment of their own goals in the context of a society that is often harshly judgemental.  By interweaving these intimate stories, the documentary offers a deeper understanding of the challenges, practical strategies and dreams of three resilient women and, indeed, of many black single mothers in Canada.

“I felt like my world was coming to an end. I had no parents around, no family at all ...  I was still in that feeling where I was trying to figure out who I am.” - Simone

Originally from Trinidad, Simone always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. But at age 19 she already had her first child. The film finds her now unemployed, living on social assistance and raising three children all under the age of ten. But Simone is rounding a turning point. Harnessing her inner strength and ambition, she takes charge of her life and applies to community college to become a paralegal.

“I feel so blessed in my life ... that my children are healthy, and that we have this stability. But it takes a lot to maintain that ... and nobody sees the disarray going on in your head ... ” - Nancy

Funny and charming and from a Jamaican family, Nancy always had an active social life. She is a homeowner with a good job as a social worker and a large supportive extended family.  In her mid-thirties Nancy became pregnant and decided to become a single parent. In the first year after giving birth to twins, she cried nonstop, spent all her savings, and her social life changed dramatically. While Nancy presents a confident front, she grapples with guilt while adjusting her own life plan.

 “I think that [single mothers] first have to define who they are, what they want out of life and what they want for their children ... They are not their situation. Their goals are made from who they are and what they want and not from what people say about them.” - Gloria

Originally from the U.S., Gloria was a young single mother in Greenwich Village.  She raised her daughter on meagre resources but with the support of a progressive alternative cultural scene.  She later met her future husband while backpacking through Europe, eventually building a family and a home with him in Canada.  Now a grandmother, Gloria looks back on her experiences with compassion and wisdom. 

Resilience bears witness to the struggles, strengths, complexities and determination of black single mothers who are building rich and rewarding lives for themselves and their families, and serves as a wake-up call to young people setting out on the path toward an exciting but uncertain future.