Changemaker November 2022

Dear friends and supporters,

Paulette Senior, President and CEO, Canadian Women's Foundation

Earlier this year, over the span of a few weeks, five women in the Toronto area died violent deaths.

The rash of murders made headlines, signaling “a crisis of intimate partner violence and family violence.” Experts on gender-based violence commented that rising rents, food, and fuel prices mean it’s even harder for survivors of abuse to leave. And when they do make that decision, the process is still a struggle.

As heartbreaking as this is, it’s part of a predictable cycle playing out across Canada. We can’t be too surprised by it.

There is ample evidence that gender-based violence spikes in times of crisis – whether it’s a pandemic, an economic downturn, a fire, a flood, or other climate event. Here in Canada, intimate partner violence, femicide, and police-reported sexual assaults have risen.

To end gender-based violence, we need to get better prepared to manage the shocks that loom on the horizon. We need to put the right stabilizing supports for survivors in place now.

That’s why I’m so grateful to every one of you in the Foundation’s community. You enable us to advocate for more funding for gender-based violence
services, to amplify calls for a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence, and to bring experts together to strategize for a safer future for all women, girls and gender-diverse people.

It’s also important to know that only a small percentage of charitable giving in Canada is earmarked for the advancement of gender justice nationally. I recently wrote about our great need for supercharged feminist philanthropy here in Canada.

This holiday season, we’re rallying awareness and support specifically for gender-based violence programs. At a time when many of us think about
giving back and making a difference, I hope you’ll think about the many survivors facing gender-based violence who are vulnerable to falling through the cracks.

Alone, we can only do so much, but together, our actions add up to real impact and real change. Read on to learn more about our holiday campaign and the Foundation’s work to end gender-based violence.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season,

Paulette Senior
President and CEO
Canadian Women’s Foundation

Lady Godiva Award website image

Honoured by a Sweet Award

The Lady GODIVA Initiative recognizes nonprofit organizations around the world that are making exemplary contributions to women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship. The Canadian Women’s Foundation won the 2022 award for Canada. We are so grateful to be honoured for our impact among this international group of prize-winning organizations.

This Holiday Season, Help Break the Cycle of Gender-Based Violence

By making a gift today, you will enable life-saving work. The Canadian Women’s Foundation supports grantee partners in every region of Canada who prevent and intervene in situations of gender-based violence. They do the complex work necessary to break the cycle of violence in families and communities, providing services such as:

  • Emergency shelter
  • Housing support
  • Help to rebuild lives after abuse
  • Sexual assault and exploitation crisis support
  • Child witness to violence programs
  • Healthy relationship education for teens

Until December 31, 2022 your gift has double the impact. For every dollar you donate, Green Shield Canada’s Room For Her program will make a matching donation (up to $30,000).

Tribute E-card design shows flowers and Mother's Day message

World Impact: The Signal for Help

At October’s G7 gender equality leaders’ meeting in Germany, Marci Ien, Canada’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, presented our Signal for Help.

The Signal is a silent hand gesture anyone can use to communicate they need help. G7 Ministers confirmed they would find ways to use the Signal to bolster gender-based violence awareness and action in their countries.

Update: We’re also proud to say that the Signal for Help Responder community has grown to more than 40,000 people building their confidence and competence to support survivors of abuse. We urge you to join this online learning journey, which will soon include a free, practical online mini-course you can take any time to sharpen your skills for offering non-judgmental support to survivors in your life. Stay tuned! We’ll launch the mini course in the coming weeks.

Shockproofing Communities Summit

As part of our efforts to shockproof our communities from future spikes in gender-based violence like we’ve seen in the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re partnering with Women’s Shelters Canada to host a National Summit in Ottawa in March 2023. About 500 gender-based violence experts and service providers are being invited to participate from across the country to exchange lessons learned in the pandemic and come up with shockproofing strategies to save lives.

Learn more

Green Shield Canada Doubles Your Impact for Women’s Mental Health

Green Shield Canada logoGreen Shield Canada is generously matching every dollar you donate to the Foundation (up to $30,000) between November 1 and December 31, 2022, to help end gender-based violence.

The company has also made a strong commitment to mental health programs for survivors of gender-based violence. Green Shield Canada’s donation of $300,000 supports seven of our Out of Violence Grantee Partners across Canada that help women, girls, and gender-diverse people rebuild their lives.


Through Green Shield’s Room for Her initiative, any woman in Canada can access a free digital, self-guided cognitive behavioural therapy program, or access an hour of free counselling with a mental health practitioner.

Changing the Culture in Youth Hockey

Amid ongoing concerns about hockey, sport, and sexual violence in Canada, the Foundation is supporting Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters’ Leading Change™ program.

This funding will enable 16 teams in the Alberta Junior Hockey League to participate in training on gender-based violence prevention, and provide players with the tools they need to contribute to broader cultural change around sexual violence and sports.

Learn more

How You’re Supporting Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

Grantee Partner Spotlight: Alice House, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

At Alice House, a second-stage housing organization, one of the key challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is bridging the digital divide.

“Before COVID, our safe housing units didn’t have WiFi at all,” says Morgan Atwater, Communications and Fund Development Officer (right). And they didn’t have the resources to provide a laptop to everyone staying with them. To access the Internet for banking, job searching, online courses, keeping in touch with loved ones, and finding other resources, residents would have to take the bus to a drop-in centre or go to a local library.

But, with the help of donors like you, all housing units at Alice House now have Internet access, and residents receive laptops that they can keep when they’re ready to move to permanent housing. This clears many obstacles in their journeys to rebuilding their lives. Women can much more easily access the Internet from the safety of their housing units. This new digital capacity also means Alice House can offer residents Alice on the Go, an online violence prevention and education program.

“The impact of funding and support like this is extraordinary,” says Morgan. “Truly, you can’t even measure it. I think that keeping people connected and keeping them empowered during challenging times, that really matters.”

Tribute E-card design shows flowers and Mother's Day message

Thank you for showing young people you care

As young people headed into another uncertain school year, you rallied to support our grantee partners throughout Canada who build youth confidence and bolster mental health, a sense of belonging, and healthy relationship skills. You, our generous donors and partners, raised more than $450,000. That’s amazing!

We also want to thank all the parents, caregivers, and mentors who weighed in on issues facing young people right now through our survey and Insights Forum. Your invaluable contributions will help us continue to advocate for what communities need to uplift their young people.

Donor Spotlight: Anita Bruinsma

Anita Bruinsma, Canadian Women's Foundation supporterMore than 10 years ago, a friend invited Anita Bruinsma to her first Canadian Women’s Foundation event.

“When I learned about all the programs funded and all the ways it helps women, I became a regular donor. The Foundation works toward gender equality on many fronts and does real work with real results.”

Looking to the future for women and girls, one of Anita’s key concerns is ending domestic violence and intimate partner abuse.

“It seems like the problem that never goes away, no matter how far women come. Women should have the opportunity to acquire the skills that allow them to be independent so that she always has the financial choice to leave.”

Thank you, Anita, for believing that, together, we can break the cycle of gender-based violence. Your support enables programs that
empower women’s journeys toward financial stability and safety.

Donor Spotlight: Yafang Shi

As a journalist, photographer and poet, Yafang Shi documents social movements. In 2018, her first solo exhibition on women’s marches was held at Markham Public Library. She organized a panel discussion and invited a representative from the Canadian Women’s Foundation to attend as a panelist.

“The Foundation’s employment of an intersectional feminist lens and its commitment to systemic change resonate with me most as a journalist and artist of colour.”

This summer, she received the York Region Arts Council’s Resiliency Award for “Fire”, a photography collage of women’s marches around the world and a rally against anti-Asian racism in Toronto, paired with a poem. She generously donated her prize money to the Canadian Women’s Foundation and another charity.

“It is a very small way to say thank you to the Foundation and give back to the cause. I hope that my small gesture can to some degree spotlight the important work that the Foundation does for women and inspire members of the public to lend their support. ‘Together, we will achieve gender justice.’ ”

Thank you, Yafang, for your continued support!

You can see Yafang’s work “Fire” showcased in the AGO’s online group exhibition Portraits of Resilience.

Donor Spotlight: Saffron Chest

Ishwarya and Santhoshi, Canadian Women's Foundation supportersAs first-generation Canadians, Ishwarya and Santhoshi launched their business Saffron Chest to remain connected with their culture and bring South Asian jewelry to the Canadian diaspora and beyond.

As part of their core values, the sisters run their business sustainably and give back to the community. Through October, they donated 10 per cent of sales to the Foundation, to commemorate the Hindu festival of Navratri and the International Day of the Girl Child.

“Growing up, Navratri in our household was a festival that was meant to honour and celebrate women and girls. We were told stories and myths of powerful women and were taught to embody those characteristics. Unfortunately, for many this isn’t the reality, and after this week many women and girls go back to a multitude of problems. We wanted to make sure this month was used to empower women who needed it.”

In supporting the Foundation, they were particularly drawn to the Girls Fund. “As women of colour from STEM backgrounds ourselves, we know how impactful it is to be celebrated for our achievements and empowered through opportunities for growth. We wanted to support a charity that focused on protecting and empowering women and girls, which is exactly what the Canadian Women’s Foundation does.”

Thank you Ishwarya and Santhoshi!

Learn more at

Donor Spotlight: All-Women’s Ultra Relay Team

Women's Ultra Relay TeamThey ran 61 hours straight, through rain and freezing temperatures, to get from Toronto’s City Hall to the top of Montreal’s Mount Royal.

The 12 women who made up the first all-women’s team at the Run to Montreal 650-km ultra-relay race in October also raised more than $2,500 for the Foundation.

The team members connected around the idea of creating more equitable spaces for women in running, and wanting to support a cause larger
than themselves.

Relay team member Amy Patterson shared: “Our hope is that everyone will one day have a safe place at the table. Every female runner we know has a story about a time that they were made to feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or scared. We hope that one day women don’t have to look at the clock before going for a run to see if it is going to be too dark out to run alone. I think we are a long way from being there, but by taking small actions with great impact we can create a safe place for women and build awareness.”

Thank you for your generosity and inspiration!


The Chilling Tide of Abuse Faced by Women Journalists

November 30, 1 p.m. EST
Virtual event

Online harm and harassment is one of the most significant issues facing women journalists today, and is on the rise globally. The Canadian Women’s Foundation, in collaboration with the Canadian Journalism Foundation and the #NotOk campaign, welcomes Garvia Bailey, journalist, broadcaster and co-founder of Media Girlfriends; Christina Frangou, freelance journalist; and Saba Eitizaz, Toronto Star producer and co-host of This Matters.

We CAN Break Free: What it Takes to Challenge Gender-Based Violence

December 6, 5-6 p.m. EST
Virtual and In-Person event
Desautels Hall, Rotman School of Management
105 St. George St., Toronto

Gender-based violence, a public health crisis, has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Yet, harmful myths and stereotypes about gender-based violence persist, making it more difficult to address.

At this event, Professor Sarah Kaplan will moderate a panel discussion with Pam Hrick, Executive Director & General Counsel of Women’s Legal and Education Action Fund (LEAF), Paulette Senior, President & CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and Harmy Mendoza, Executive Director of Women’s Abuse Council of Toronto (WomanACT). They will debunk some of the biggest myths and explore what individuals, organizations, and the community can do to stop gender-based violence and support survivors.

Get informed: Listen to our Alright, Now What? Podcast

Catch up on recent conversations with these experts:

Feminist Journalism, with Robyn Doolittle (above) and Christina Frangou

Barbara Perry

Women and White Nationalism Part 1, with Erica Ifill and Part 2 with Barbara Perry (above)

We Want to Hear from You!

Did this issue of Changemakers help you to understand the work of the Foundation and how your support makes a difference? Please share your feedback in our survey, so that we can work to improve future issues.