Photo: Paulette Senior and her mother

What’s the most empowering example that your mom, or a mother figure, ever set for you?

That’s the question we recently posed to the Foundation’s community, and you overwhelmed us with stories of your mom’s magic and might.

Many of you talked about the values and kindness she exemplified:

“Her daily actions and decisions in life, large and small, reflected our family values. We never spoke about our values as I grew up but it was clear to me what they were and what they looked like in action.” – Diane_collis on Instagram

“My mother’s strength lies in her endless capacity to love her family, her friends, and her community. Always thinking about those most marginalized in our city, my mother embodies the Rosemary Brown phrase ‘Until all of us have made it, none of us have made it.’” – Dr. Kristin Blakely, Board Chair, Canadian Women’s Foundation

“My late mom’s biggest strength was her unconditional forgiveness. She was so accepting of people, and she was always able to see beyond their faults.” – Paulette Senior, President & CEO, Canadian Women’s Foundation

“My mother always set the example of how to be generous, she always gave anything she could to those less fortunate than her even if it was at the expense of her own time or comfort. I think that was super empowering because it showed me how to be a better person.” – Emma Partridge, Marketing Coordinator, Canadian Women’s Foundation

Some of you highlighted the fierceness and determination she instilled:
“Have strong opinions, be educated and, the most important, independent three golden words from my mother! They have always been my life principles!” – Asstha Malhotra on LinkedIn

“Be fierce, be focused, be kind with yourself and others.” – Amanda Traynor on LinkedIn

“My mother would always say, “Be fluid and follow your dreams” – Emma Sk on LinkedIn

“I learned how to be a CEO from my stay-at-home mom. She taught me fierce leadership while having a social justice anchor at all times.” – Jennifer Flanagan, Board Member, Canadian Women’s Foundation and CEO, Actua

Others shared stories of their mother’s resilience and determination:

“My mom taught me that it doesn’t matter how hard things are to never give up on your dreams.

She was raised during a time that it was not safe to be First Nations, let alone a woman. Her dream was to be a doctor and save lives. Maybe some of you aren’t aware that Indigenous people were not legally permitted to attend university and certainly not become a doctor during those times. Despite all the socio-economic obstacles that come along with being First Nations in Canada, she became a nurse and later a university professor.” – Angela Marston on LinkedIn

“I grew up in a disadvantaged area in the suburbs of Paris. I still can’t figure out how my mother managed to raise her five children alone while working crazy shifts. How despite the environment filled with violence, ugliness, humiliation, we never felt worthless, and were so convinced we could achieve anything.” – Emilia Tamko on LinkedIn

“My family was not well off. For my ninth birthday my mom bought me a very colorful bell bottom out fit. I wore it to school. The principle told me it was not appropriate and sent me home. My mother sent me back to school in the outfit and called the school to say there was nothing inappropriate about the outfit (no skin showing etc.). I will always remember my mother’s strength and conviction. It was 1964.” – Tamela Price-Fry on LinkedIn

Laurie Young and her mother

Laurie Young and her “Brazilian mother”, Dona Geny Ragaini

“Through a nasty divorce, sky high interest rates in the 1980’s and (with) three little girls, my mom managed to finish her degree at SFU (even though we lived in Northern BC), instilling the importance of education and independence.” – Shauna Frederick on LinkedIn

“As a teen, I spent a year as an exchange student in Brazil. My “Brazilian mother” showed me the value and the power of compassion. In a country where the divide between the haves and have nots is deep, it would have been easy to ignore those less fortunate. She never did.” – Laurie Young, Board Member, Canadian Women’s Foundation

“You are never trapped in a job. Start thinking of where you want to be and take small steps to get yourself moving forward. It will empower you, and give you momentum and change will happen.” – Christianne Moretti on LinkedIn

“My mother, Willie Mae Lumpkin, the daughter of Alabama sharecroppers, loved school but had to drop out after eighth grade to take a job and help support her family. Through her example, encouragement and financial sacrifice she made sure that all three of her children earned university degrees. And after we all completed our degrees, she earned her GED (high school equivalency) and lived her dream of going to university herself.” – Dr. Ramona Lumpkin, Board Member, Canadian Women’s Foundation

“My mom is one of my biggest inspirations as she raised four kids with my dad, continued pursuing her educational aspirations, changed careers, moved to different countries, volunteered in her community, provided support to our extended family during health crises, actively participates in the lives of her grandchildren and creates joy and laughter wherever she goes. At the age of 78, she still makes her way to the front of her aerobics class 3 times a week as the music inspires her.” – Alain Mootoo on LinkedIn

“My mother, Genet, was a teacher. She had wanted to be one since she was a small child. She showed me what it meant to pursue a career that matched your passions. Immigration was very difficult for her; her teaching career was put aside. But her sacrifice to make sure I was so well taken care of as a child enabled me to do the things I do now. Her empowerment came from this enablement. I can’t go a day without acknowledging this child of such humble means, ancestor of the indentured, who became a young teacher and mother and travelled across waters as a settler on Turtle Island … all so I could be enabled. I really am my ancestors’—and my mother’s—wildest dreams. I’m thankful they had the audacity and strength to dream those dreams in the first place.” – Andrea Gunraj, VP of Public Engagement, Canadian Women’s Foundation

Andrea's mother, Genet

Andrea Gunraj’s mother, Genet

And still more of you took lessons from the way she lived her life, into your own:

“The love of travel and history. It taught me that to understand myself, my purpose and about humanity, I had to look outside myself.” – Mfilice01 on Instagram
“To take time for myself and my own passions – my Mom raised seven children and struggled with this. When she saw me repeating similar patterns, she encouraged me and helped me to recognize I was disappearing while try to please everyone else.” – Pamela Hadder on LinkedIn

“My mum did multiple empowering things for me:
1. Took me to see Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party when I was in high school, so I learned about women in history
2. Encouraged/made all my siblings take auto shop as well as typing and home economics, so we could fix a car, type our essays/work and make a meal
3. Told me all her stories of being a young nurse, working and travelling around the world and giving me her blessings to move around the world and end up living in China.” – Kate Marshall on LinkedIn

“Another of her qualities that’s really stuck with me and my family was her ability to tell the history of our family roots so vividly – so much so that you want to go and seek it out! So compelling were her stories that we are now seeking out our relatives and their descendants and carrying on the tradition of storytelling for the next generation. – Paulette Senior, President & CEO, Canadian Women’s Foundation

Take time this Mother’s Day to consider what makes the mother or mother figure in your life so incredible, and share your thoughts in the comments or on social media. And definitely share them with your Mom!

Show your support

You can also celebrate the powerful role moms play by honoring them with a special action or gift.

Whether it’s her strength, confidence, kindness, or curiosity, every girl got something from her mom that makes her cool. This year, Reitmans has partnered with the Canadian Women’s Foundation to help support programs that empower girls. From April 23 to May 12, for every like, comment, use or share of our hashtag #CoolLikeMom on Instagram and Facebook, Reitmans will donate 50¢ to the Foundation!

Alternatively, the Giving Roses Project will allow you to donate in your mother’s name. For each contribution, a donation to the Foundation will be registered on your behalf. You’ll receive a rose pin and card that you can give your loved one to let them know you’ve donated in their name. To donate directly through the Foundation, please visit our website.

Learn More:

7 Confidence-Boosting Books for Girls
No, Moms, the gender pay gap is not on us
6 Ways to Raise Confident Girls: Tips from Canadian Women’s Foundation Parents

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