Changemaker August 2021
Dear friends and supporters,
We’re so grateful that you supported The Mother Rising and called for services and long-term systemic change that mothers and caregivers need for a more equitable future. THANK YOU for amplifying the voices of mothers and caregivers in Canada who’ve borne the brunt of the pandemic’s gendered impacts.
But mothers and caregivers continue to worry about the well-being of their children and teens as a new school year looms.
In Ontario, more than half of children aged 8-12 and 70 per cent of teens reported depressive symptoms during the pandemic’s second wave (Hospital for Sick Children). Social isolation has negatively impacted children and young people; 54 per cent of parents are concerned about their children’s social isolation (Statistics Canada, 2020; Cost et al., 2021).
Think about what this means for the girls and gender-diverse youth we focus on.
It might be harder for them to gain a sense of self-confidence and belonging at that critical 9 to 13 age range. And healthy relationship skill-building has been severely interrupted for children and teens. For some, increased conflict at home might have meant more exposure to gender-based violence.
These impacts won’t just disappear. Girls and young people need us to tell them “We’ve Got Your Back!”
Show your support in this back-to-school effort by visiting Got Your Back and you’ll support 34 girls’ empowerment and teen healthy relationship programs that have been there in the pandemic and are working harder than ever in the coming school year.
They provide safe spaces and acceptance, build confidence and resilience, grow skills for healthy relationships, and bolster belonging and community connection. They are tailored to the needs of the diverse young people they serve.
Along with pens, textbooks and backpacks, these resources are critical for supporting young people through the coming year.
With much gratitude,
Canadian Women’s Foundation
As the Foundation marks its 30th anniversary, here are two longtime donors who have supported our work from our early days.
“I am confident the Canadian Women’s Foundation will continue to be a leading voice in the advancement of women and children as we restructure in a post-pandemic world.”
About 30 years ago, Kiki Delaney realized a childhood dream of launching her own company, Delaney Capital Management Ltd.
At the time, women-led investment firms were rare, and she saw how hard it was for women to advance and flourish in this male-dominated industry. She wanted to help provide equal opportunity for other women, so she began supporting the Foundation. “Since its inception in 1991, the Foundation has been a powerful and important voice for equal rights and opportunities for women and girls,” she says.
While more women now hold leadership positions in government, education, and business than they did 30 years ago, Kiki recognizes that much more needs to be done to address the intersecting barriers diverse women face. She believes in the Foundation’s approach to funding inclusive programs that empower women and girls with the confidence, skills, and opportunities to lead in their communities and chosen fields.
Given the pandemic’s devastating impacts, the need is more critical than ever.
“Many women have lost their jobs or given up their paid work to focus on childcare, and the risk of family violence has increased. The Foundation has worked tirelessly to support services for marginalized women, girls and gender-diverse people.” It’s because of tireless, long-term supporters like Kiki that the Foundation can continue to do its work.
“For the sake of my grandchildren, I want to be part of the Foundation’s work.”
From a young age, Marsha Sfeir felt the impacts of gender inequality. Her paternal grandfather stopped speaking to her mother for months because she gave birth to a girl. At school, Marsha was told she scored “like a boy” because she did better in math than English. In the 1970s, she saw how friends who came out as lesbians lost custody of their children to guardians who were abusive, but still considered better caregivers than loving, queer parents. Those are some of the experiences that led toward her involvement in women’s rights campaigns and the “life-long struggle” of working for a more just and inclusive world.
We’re so grateful that Marsha has supported the Canadian Women’s Foundation since 1992. She believes in the Foundation because “it is committed to an intersectional feminist analysis, supports marginalized women and youth, thinks outside the box so that those most in need can access funds, and prioritizes funding to racialized, newcomer, Indigenous, remote, 2SLGBTQIA+, and disability organizations.”
Now a mother to two adult sons and grandmother to two girls, Marsha says gender equality is part of family conversations. To set an example for their children and grandchildren, they’ve made a habit of trying to share “care work” equally, speaking out when they see unfair treatment, discussing how gender is a limiting social construct, and rejecting unrealistic body image ideals.
Let’s Show Girls and Young People: We’ve Got Your Back!
They are struggling more than ever with mental health, connection, belonging, healthy relationships, and feeling confident about the future. As they head into another uncertain school year, let’s let them know we’ve got their backs!
Your support helps fund 34 programs for girls and young people aged 9 to 19 all over Canada that:
- Provide a sense of belonging and community connection
- Bolster mental health
- Build confidence
- Teach about consent and healthy relationships
- Provide positive, inclusive, and safe spaces where girls and gender-diverse youth can thrive
Girl empowerment and teen healthy relationship program participants say it best:
“You were surrounded by a community of people who both shared and understood your struggle but also experienced it in diverse ways.”
“It’s a place where you can relax and feel included …”
“Everyone was really accepting and respectful … I also felt that everyone was open and expressed their personalities which made me want to do the same.”
Young People in the Lead
We’re excited and grateful to work with diverse young feminists in Canada to develop a youth engagement strategy. Their vision and ideas are essential to advancing gender justice. The consultation team of nine includes:
Thank You for Helping Diverse Mothers and Caregivers Rise!
“It’s been trial by fire. I have had many break downs and cried more in this year than ever.” – Survey respondent
They have shouldered heavy burdens throughout the pandemic, juggling childcare, eldercare, working from home, and homeschooling. In fact, almost half of mothers in Canada were reaching their breaking point.
So you took action to ensure mothers and caregivers get the programs they need now. And you sparked the change Canada needs.
Watch The Mother Rising panel discussion featuring President and CEO Paulette Senior and partners, grantees, and friends of the Foundation.
Signal For Help Campaign Wins Awards
The Violence at Home Signal for Help is a hand signal that can be used to silently indicate you need someone to check in with you.
Since its launch, it has gone viral. It has been adopted by 200+ organizations across 40+ countries in 19 languages and been shared on social media millions of times.
Now it’s been recognized by The One Club’s One Show, Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and the 2021 Marketing Awards. And there’s more to come in November to make sure everyone in Canada is equipped to support those facing gender-based violence and can do their part to end it.
And How Can We “Shock-Proof” Canada from Gender-Based Violence?
When the pandemic began, gender-based violence spiked around the world. Canada experienced increased risk of this violence too. How can we prevent spikes in the future? The Foundation is coordinating essential research to address this question with the support of the Government of Canada’s Department of Women and Gender Equality.
The Landsberg Award Goes to …
Congratulations to Toronto Star journalists Alyshah Hasham (near right) and Wendy Gillis (far right) for winning the 2021 Landsberg Award, presented annually by The Canadian Journalism Foundation in association with the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
Check out Hasham’s and Gillis’s winning submissions:
Decolonizing Action: The Work Continues
Achieving gender justice in Canada includes justice for survivors of residential schools and an end to systemic racism.
Read our statements on supporting residential school survivors and decolonizing actions we can take.
Learning and Action
Up for Debate
The 44th federal election is coming up on September 20, 2021. We are member of Up for Debate, a campaign by women’s rights and gender justice advocates. It calls on federal political parties to support the advancement of gender equality and work toward an intersectional, feminist pandemic recovery.
Learn more about up4debate.ca and check out the Mobilization Toolkit.
Sexual Exploitation/Trafficking: Essential Learnings from the Grassroots
Between 2016 and 2021, we have funded eight community-based programs to address sexual exploitation and trafficking and meet diverse needs of survivors. Read a summary of the programs’ learnings and impacts, which will inform future work.
Grants for Grassroots Action
Community Needs Grants
Thanks to your support, a new annual grant stream has been launched to provide one year of flexible funding to organizations to meet a range of needs. These Community Needs Grants support gender justice and women’s organizations to respond to pandemic-related challenges, including program costs and operational expenses. We look forward to announcing approximately 23 grants of up to $20,000 each in January 2022.
Safer + Stronger Grants
These grants, made possible by the Department for Women and Gender Equality, help organizations address the influx in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since January 2021, we have funded 487 grants to organizations throughout the country, distributing a total of more than $32 million.
As part of our Northern Strategy, developed in partnership with MakeWay Foundation, we are supporting two exciting new initiatives:
- The Kitikmeot Heritage Society helps women and girls learn sewing and skin-preparation techniques to make traditional Kalikuk parkas. These skills are integral to the survival and artistic expression of Innuinait culture. The program also creates safe space for conversation, self-care, and connection with community elders.
- The Ilitaqsiniq – Nunavut Literacy Council’s Ajuungi Anaanas pilot program in Rankin Inlet empowers diverse mothers with parenting skills, connecting them with role models, mentors, and community resources. It is grounded in traditional Inuit principles and values.
The Tireless Rally Their Communities
These amazing supporters are spearheading their own events to support gender justice. They are rockstars!
Action In Reading Club
Action In Reading, a Toronto-based not-for-profit club, has chosen to support the work of the Foundation this fall through book discussions starting in September. They will be reading Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life and Living Nonviolent Communication & Practical Tools to Connect and Communicate Skillfully in Every Situation, both by Marshall B. Rosenberg. They chose these books to spark discussions about building healthy relationships in the community.
Action In Reading Club was started by a group of parents keen on transforming reading into action to make positive impacts on families and communities through volunteering and fundraising events.
Learn more about Action In Reading
Bill and Yoshi’s Outdoor Adventure
Bill Shoup was raised by a mom who put herself through nursing school while holding down two jobs and raising three children. She experienced abusive relationships along the way, too. That’s why Bill understands that how critical it is for women to have access to excellent support. “There are far too many women that are in terrible situations that no one should have to be living in,” he says. To raise funds for the Canadian Women’s Foundation and two other charities as he marks his 60th birthday, Bill will cycle across Canada with his dog, Yoshi.
Follow and support Bill and Yoshi’s journey
Get in the Know …
Subscribe to our Podcast
Alright, Now What? gets deep into hot topics only touched on in news stories. Subscribe now and listen to recent episodes on issues like the gender pay gap, inequalities of parenting, women’s homelessness, and why paid sick days is a feminist issue.
Indigenous authors Michelle Good and Karen McBride discuss their respective books, Five Little Indians, and Crow Winter.
World Champion hurdler and Olympian Perdita Felicien and her mother, Cathy Felicien Browne, discuss Perdita’s book My Mother’s Daughter.
Congratulations to our Tireless Leader!
The University of Lethbridge recently presented Paulette Senior, the Foundation’s President and CEO, with an honorary doctor of laws, honoris causa. They recognized Paulette’s “steadfast commitment to justice and equality, and her work to improve the lives of women, girls, and non-binary people affected by poverty, violence and marginalization.”