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The Bravest Thing I Ever Did

Woman thinkingThere are hundreds of people in the room, but you can hear a pin drop. There are standing ovations. There are tears of sorrow and joy.  

These are some of the unforgettable moments that audiences experience at each Canadian Women’s Foundation Breakfast. It’s the Foundation’s signature fundraising event and, as the Manager of Special Events, I’ve been privileged to run it for the past 12 years.

If you’ve never been to the breakfast, you’re missing out on being a part of something huge. By attending, you are making an investment in the Canadian Women’s Foundation, which will better the lives of women and children across this country.

Powerful speakers, powerful stories

Each year, I’ve watched attendees sit spellbound by high-profile speakers including Gloria Steinem, Geena Davis, Ashley Judd, Margaret Atwood, and Michele Landsberg. We can’t wait to hear this year’s keynote speaker, comedian and actress Maysoon Zayid.

Audiences also hear stories of women who have participated in programs funded by the Foundation. You find out how women move from struggle to success, whether they are leaving an abusive relationship, or working their way out of poverty.

Each guest’s experience is unique, but everyone leaves feeling inspired and uplifted. The event hits home for me on an extremely personal level, because I’ve been there.

My own journey from fear to safety

I know what it’s like to live in poverty as a single mother. I know what it’s like to have an abusive husband and small children to protect. I know what it’s like to have money be the deciding factor in whether to stay or go.

My husband did not physically harm us, but we lived with daily emotional and mental abuse. He was controlling, restrictive, and would humiliate us. He was a bully.

There was a darkness that only existed inside our home. I didn’t have a job, and if I needed money, I had to ask for it and provide a reason. Our bills were never paid on time and often not at all. Most of them were in my name, which meant he was never responsible for them.

He would pride himself on returning enough empties to the beer store, which would then pay for an entire case of beer. Often, he didn’t come home at night, and would spend countless hours at the neighborhood strip club with his cronies.

Did I want to leave? YES.

But I didn’t have the means to support myself or my children. And all of this had become normal. You adjust, you adapt, and you survive. It wasn’t until I started working at the Canadian Women’s Foundation that I learned I wasn’t much different than the women we aim to help.

‘The bravest thing I ever did’

Here I was, going to work and hearing stories of women who weren’t any different than me. But these women were changing their lives because they had found a safe shelter, or a program to help them rebuild their life, learn skills to get a job, or start a business—they had found services funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

I was living with a secret, and I knew I had to get out. I worked for an organization whose mandate was to stop abuse from happening to women and children, and I was going home to live it every night. I felt like I was doing nothing for my children, who were suffering the most. 

After three months at the Foundation, I left him with only $735 in my bank account. I arrived on my mother’s doorstep with my children’s clothing in garbage bags.  It was the bravest thing I ever did.

Your support goes far beyond the Breakfast

It was the work we do that opened my eyes to the life my children and I were living. Thankfully, I had the support of family, friends and co-workers who understood my situation.

Because of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, I learned there was another way to live. By purchasing a ticket or a table at our Breakfast, you can make a better life possible for other women and children in Canada who can’t do it alone.

The money raised at the Breakfast goes to fund programs across Canada to rebuild lives of women and children fleeing violence, mentor girls, move low-income women and their children out of poverty.

Please join us and know that your support will change someone’s life.


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