Human Trafficking in the Niagara Region

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CFUW Welland and District

In conjunction with

YWCA St Catharines

Invites you to a presentation on Zoom

Human Trafficking in the Niagara Region presented by

Kayla Meyer Lead Person on the Trafficking Team,

YWCA St. Catharines

Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 7pm

 We have space for 100 participants, please register early.

To register for an invitation please email

President’s December Message

We have all been bombarded with news coverage (including through Canadian media) of the situation of our neighbours to the south occurring over the last few years, months and of the recent election. I’m hopeful that we are now on the verge of a better future for the US, Canada and the world. Although it appears that the seeming decline of democracy into autocracy in the US has been paused for now, the political divide there is as wide as ever and is very worrisome. A nagging question keeps surfacing. How could almost half of those who voted be so devoted to a leader whose words and actions constantly demeaned and hurt them?

Recently, I read an article that suggests a plausible and chilling explanation. The author of the article, Dr. Bandy X. Lee, is an American psychiatrist at Yale University who has been vocal about her views on the deleterious societal effects of the US president’s mental state (primarily his narcissism). She and many other health professionals are urging the nation to think about the fascination with his behaviour as a mental health problem rather than just a political one. She believes that he suffers from a mental disorder that has supported manipulative and exploitative behaviour, which combined with his position of power as president, has been potently persuasive. In his followers, the disorder manifests itself as a decrease in the awareness that something is wrong. Rational thought is overridden. When higher functions are impaired, an individual taps more easily into the “primitive brain” which is irrational but very powerful, as it is survival driven. Dr. Lee suggests that these followers are vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation and are very loyal to the person sending the message. Under these emotional bonds, his followers often experience any threat to his position as a threat to themselves as they have been conditioned to believe. Although these bonds will dissipate when exposure to the “protector” is decreased, hearing the same messages over and over, especially on unrestricted social media can perpetuate the disorder into the future. Please email me if you would like me to forward Dr. Lee’s article.

Why am I going on about the US situation? Because I think there are lessons to be learned by Canadians. I keep hearing a new word in the political vocabulary, “tribalism”, which means having unconditional loyalty to one group and viewing others as enemies. It combines a disagreement with a deeply held grievance. The fact is, that a malaise already exists in society, both in the US and Canada. Political diatribe, economic disparities, fear of the future, feelings of isolation and helplessness result in deeply felt grievances and trigger strong emotions such as anger and even explosions of violence. Think of how domestic violence has exploded since the stress of pandemic lockdowns started. As I understand it, if an authoritarian figure is charismatic enough, the sources of information limited and the message constant for a long enough time, and everyday stresses result in grievances deep enough, mental disorder can happen anywhere and contribute to a widening gap of support between governing parties.

Aretha van Herk, a Calgary author, wrote an opinion piece for the CBC in late October in which she said “Partisanship is crippling leadership, a real peril when the best way forward is to unite…we cannot afford a complacent sense of superiority. We are just as susceptible to disinformation as our American cousins.” Each new government tries to tear down the work of the previous one. Racism and violence against women are examples of cultural tribalism which are on the rise here in Canada. I feel that, as women, as individuals, we must advocate for compromise and tolerance. Perpetuating the notion that disagreements are the preserve of enemies could spread our divides as wide as those south of the border. Taking to heart the T-shirt message “Be Kind” is more important than ever.

On a related note, November 25th is the start of the annual international campaign “Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence”. See the November 6th edition of CFUW National’s “Club Action Newsletter” for advocacy suggestions. I plan to wear orange until December 10th as a reminder that December 6th is the 31st anniversary of the horrific “Montreal Massacre”. Finally, one of our newer member has followed her passion and teamed up with the Ontario Council Status of Women and Human Rights Chair, Sandra Shaw to propose two Resolutions to stop Human Trafficking. You can read the results of her research in this newsletter. After a likely editing process of the wording, these Resolutions, introduced and supported by our St. Catharines Club, will be voted on at the May Ontario AGM.

I look forward to seeing you at our fun December 8th General Meeting which will be capped off with a virtual wine tasting activity.

National Philanthropy Day

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Dear supporters, partners and champions,

Thank you for the investment you have made in the future of Brock students. Because of you, Brock can continue to provide the best academic experience to our students. Your support has enabled us to build facilities and provide essential services such as online academic skills programs and mental health support. Because of your generosity, students have access to scholarships and awards.

Today, on National Philanthropy Day, we thank you and celebrate the collective impact of donors at Brock, throughout the country and around the world.

Your philanthropy is the foundation for a brighter future as your support creates opportunities for our students to excel in their studies and achieve success.

We hope you will take a moment to view this student message of gratitude.

With gratitude,

Sonia Dupte
Director, Development & Stewardship

President’s November Message

I’ve been encouraging you to access the CFUW Provincial, National and International websites, and read their newsletters because they will keep you connected to good things that are happening during these isolating times. They will also alert you to creative ways you can help make changes in the welfare of women and girls that are still needed.

The September Ontario Council Newsletter has a message from the Ontario Council President, as well as two particularly inspirational essays by two Club Presidents on the value of CFUW Membership that I highly recommend you read. Ontario Council News Sept – issue 16.

I have been taking my own advice and emailing requests for invites to Webinars and CFUW club speakers. The Ontario Council Virtual Speaker’s Series on October 3 was really informative and enjoyable. Three speakers covered various issues on how elders are viewed by society, why Eldercare is so underfunded, and what we can do about it. The three slide presentations can be viewed on the OC website under Speaker Series by clicking on “here” in each of the speaker introductions. Eldercare My favourite quote from the event was “We’re not getting older, just bolder!”

Speaking of older and bolder, I also enjoyed a TED talk on aging by Jane Fonda that was so good I didn’t want her to stop talking!  TedXWomen – Jane Fonda

The CFUW Nepean Club hosted a speaker on Canadian Gun Control. I was surprised to learn that the numbers of guns in Canada is three times larger now than 15 years ago primarily because laws are not being enforced! The CFUW Georgetown Club speaker, Joy Hurst, is the CFUW National VP for International Affairs. She spoke from her home in Edmonton. She stressed that concerns for women are the same worldwide and locally, and Meet and Greet meetings between international clubs are very valuable for sharing ideas and strategies in real time. She also pointed out that one way we can help women internationally is to hold our own government accountable for the promises and agreements made at the United Nations Council on the Status of Women (UNCSW).

An email from the National Advocacy Coordinator, Charlotte Akin, included a CFUW response to the Speech from the Throne in the form of a letter by our National President, Kathryn Wilkinson, to Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. CFUW letter to JTrudeau – throne speech

A number of CFUW Resolutions were addressed in the Speech from the Throne including:
– swift response to the recommendations of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as well of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
– adopting policies that mitigate Climate Change and which would help produce millions of good paying jobs
– establishing national standards for Long Term Care
– funding more affordable and high quality child care

Also in the email from Charlotte Akin is a call to action. Template letters are attached to allow members across Canada to write to their elected officials, either by email or snail mail to support the proposed actions to improve childcare. Click here to see the template letters.
Local Template letter re: throne speech-child care
Premier template letter re: throne speech-child care

We are also being encouraged to write letters to the Editor in our local papers, and sign petitions by CFUW and partners such as the Niagara District Council of Women. I plan to write, as President of the St. Catharines Club, as well as personally, hand-written letters to Premier Doug Ford, St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle, and MPP Jennie Stevens, and Thorold MP Vince Badawey, and MPP Jeff Burch. I hope you will answer the call yourselves as well by adapting the templates. We may be isolated, but we can still demonstrate the “Power of Women Working Together”! I hope you are enjoying the spectacular fall colours. “See” you on November 10th.

President’s October Message

My thinking this month is about communication and especially how important the visual component is. For me, virtual video (PowerPoint) and Zoom meetings are second best to in-person interactions. But after six months of social distancing and isolation, they are giving me such joy! I actually felt a high at our September General Meeting on seeing all of your smiling faces! Of course, another factor is how impressed I am at how many of you have moved out of your comfort zones and learned how to access and participate in online meetings. I look forward to seeing even more of you joining in the fun in the coming months. Our October 13 meeting will be especially interesting as we contemplate how to proceed with our fundraising plans.

I am noticing that current restrictions mean I have more time for on-line meetings and thus I am spending much more time in front of my computer. And, although I am quite IT challenged, I am also discovering that I can attend virtual events such as webinars and guest speakers of other organizations. We may be house-bound, but we can still seek out opportunities to hear speakers from other groups who are learning to get the word out, such as the Niagara District Council of Women (of which CFUW St. Catharines is a member), and which is very advocacy oriented. Visit and/or contact any organization’s website and register for an invite.

If your Interest Group is temporarily on hold, you can go online and access the websites of other CFUW clubs, (just type in Welland or Hamilton CFUW for example). Another option is the Ontario Council which publishes a newsletter called OC News, and organizes the now online Speakers Series, the first of which is on October 3.

Click to read Click to read: Ontario Council News and Speaker Series

 Also, CFUW National sends out its Club Action Newsletter with links to events such as “My Journey as a Neuroscientist” by an award recipient on October 16th, and a Gun-Control Webinar on October 6th with speaker Dr. Wendy Cukier (a Ryerson professor) and organized by the Nepean CFUW club.

Club Action Newsletter September 10
Club Action Newsletter September 15
Club Action Newsletter September 16
Club Action Newsletter September 18

If you want to see our International Grandmother in action, go to the GWI website and watch some videos of speeches to several UN Councils. An interesting event which just took place September 12 was the GWI Membership Marketplace Webinar Launch. Marketplace webinar password: GWIMembershipMarketplace

One stream called Peer to Peer (P2P) provides an innovative method of communication between GWI members across the globe to foster friendship, share skill sets, and experiences. From language lessons to craft classes, it provides opportunities for sharing and learning world-wide. The second stream helps foster the twinning of NFAs (National Federations and Associations) to jointly take on projects such as Human Trafficking and Violence Against Women. The website also describes other on-going programs.

President’s September Message

Thank goodness for TV, radio, telephones, and the internet, especially ZOOM for me, during this pandemic. When my 77 year old sister in Chicago contracted COVID-19 in April, she was suddenly, in one day, so sick she could barely stand and breathe. She spent 10 days in hospital, isolated from other patients, sometimes needing oxygen, but fortunately not intubation, and was cared for by nursing staff completely covered from head to foot and looking like aliens. To keep her from worsening depression, my other sister and I decided to try free, daily, 40 minute ZOOM meetings. They kept her spirits up and connected her with the outside world. Thankfully she survived with seemingly minor ill effects. We have continued our daily “meetings” since April 27th and I am surprised to realize that they have become very important to my mental outlook and have greatly decreased my sense of isolation during our COVID spring and summer. If you are feeling isolated, try a free ZOOM meeting with someone you enjoy talking to. Also, you could call the person below you in the CFUW Club directory!

Since last May, I have just been putting one foot in front of the other as I develop and learn new daily routines. At first, it seemed to take forever to get things done and I comforted myself by remembering that learning new things is good for brain health. (See the October 2019, newsletter on our CFUW St. Catharines Website under Members Only).

Summer has usually been a quiet time for CFUW activities. The exception was the Program Committee who always met once or twice in May and June to plan speakers for the coming year. COVID changed all that. This year they required nine weekly meetings extending into August because, in addition to arranging speakers, they began thinking about the logistics of running virtual meetings, in case in-person meetings were not possible starting in September. After investigating several possible platforms, they decided ZOOM best met our needs. In the process, they also realized that running virtual meetings needed a much different organization than our previous in-person ones. Thus, the Virtual Platform Committee was formed to learn how to do the various behind the scene jobs necessary to keep a virtual meeting running smoothly. They practiced with our first Executive Meeting in June, which was surprisingly fun for me, and then ran our rescheduled April Annual General Meeting on July 14th in which 62 members signed in. Thank you to all of you who participated and voted. As a result, important club business was conducted, and your new executive is poised to navigate the challenges of our first COVID fall.

In addition to all our club activity, the National Annual General Meeting, was held June 19th-20th and was used as a model for our own planning. One thing I learned was that there may be unexpected delays caused by computer glitches, so that virtual meetings often take more time than planned. Our AGM only needed half hour more time whereas the National AGM needed another four and a half hours to get through the planned agenda! At the National AGM in June, the Guelph motion to remove the requirement of National membership in GWI was defeated, as we had hoped, but time ran out so votes on other important issues and the National Slate of Officers was postponed until a Special General Meeting in August. The most significant item for me at the SGM was a motion to increase the annual dues by $5.00 to allow National to pay its outstanding debt to GWI. (See historical background in our October 2018 and May 2020 Newsletters.) I am so disappointed that this increase, which would have supported the extensive international work of our founding grandmother organization, was defeated. This means our annual dues for the 2020-2021 year will stay at $106 per member. All six of the Resolutions and the two Emergency Resolutions presented at our March 10th General Meeting were passed.

We have heard from Father Anton at St. John’s Church/Activity Centre, where we have held our General Meetings in the past, that in-person meetings cannot be held there until January at the earliest. So, all of our monthly General Meetings will be virtual every second Tuesday of the month at 7:30 PM. The advantage is that there is no night driving required and no cancellations because of inclement weather. We are scheduled to use the National ZOOM platform which will more than accommodate 250 participants for our two hour meetings. See the notices in this newsletter about how to pay this year’s dues and join the interest groups that are still able to run safely.

Our club has purchased the $20/month ZOOM platform for unlimited use by the Executive and Interest Groups under 100 participants. Meeting times can last a couple of hours unlike the free Zoom which limits you to 40 minutes at a time. Organizers of groups that wish to use Zoom need to book times through the following email: Susan Middleton is managing the bookings for our Zoom platform. The use is free to members, so do take advantage of this to stay connected. Before each General Meeting our Platform Committee has offered to run a seminar for ZOOM Newbies.

The CFUW motto is “The Power of Women Working Together” and it has never been more important than now. In this time of wearing masks and social distancing, we need to keep in contact with each other and find creative ways to continue supporting our own emotional and physical well-being as well as supporting the education and welfare of women and girls locally, nationally, and worldwide. I hope you have had a healthy and safe year so far and I look forward to “seeing” you at our September 8th meeting.

CFUW St Catharines Virtual AGM

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Dear Members,

In preparation for our AGM on Zoom July 14 at 7:30, please read the following amendments to our constitution/bylaws.

Constitution/bylaw amendments to doc of March 2020

This is further to our email of June 30 advising you of our AGM and the documents we will be voting on.  These were originally sent to you in the spring as well, but for your convenience, here are the links again.

2020-2021 Budget

Charitable Fund Allocations

Constitution and Bylaws

2020-2021 Executive Slate


Virtual Platform Committee – Get Involved

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and potential public health meeting limitations in the upcoming fall season, the Executive and Program Committees are exploring alternate ways to hold our meetings using a virtual platform (on-line computer).  This would allow all computerized members to participate from home.  We are forming a Virtual Platform Committee to lead us through this process.  We require 2-3 willing members who have the following:

  • Access to a computer with a stable WIFI signal
  • Strong computer skills and experience with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Comfortable with scheduling meetings
  • Experience with Virtual meetings
  • Experience with learning new computer programs
  • Comfortable with explaining the virtual platform to new users

If you have these skill sets and can help, or want further information, please contact