President’s September Message

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Welcome to the first newsletter of our new club year. It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end. Hopefully you have been able to safely connect with your family and friends. It has been so good for me to be able to see some family and have some long overdue hugs.

This is my first message to you as President of St. Catharines CFUW. We have so many people to thank for all of the hard work that they have done this past year. While we did that in May, I would like to thank Barb Legg and her Virtual Garden Tour team for a successful fundraiser during June and July, through the remarkable teamwork with Niagara College. Wow – unbelievable. It allows us to continue with our awards and bursaries for young women’s education and local agencies.

The summer has opened our eyes and our hearts to the challenges of young girls and women within our own country and others. The discovery of multiple unmarked graves at residential schools is difficult to comprehend and accept. Most recently, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan leaves the future of women and education unknown there. We may not be able to change the past, but we can make a difference in the future. Stay informed.

Some changes are happening since our last meeting in May. Thank you to Elma Kimpel for her years of dedication and photography, Liina Veer as Chair of Advocacy, Valerie Parke for Document Storage and Karen Erin as Program Chair. Welcome to Barb Leslie as our lead photographer (amongst her other hats), Jean Tonogai for stepping into Advocacy, Carol Clarke as Program Chair and Susan Middleton as Interest Groups Coordinator. My apologies if I missed others.

While we have been virtual for the most part this past year – we have been very productive. We have a dynamic team that is looking to keeping us connected and well informed this fall. Stay tuned and stay involved.

Submitted by Maureen Shantz, President, CFUW St Catharines

President’s May Message

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I have been so pleased by all our club has accomplished this year. I have been energized from seeing an increase in participation of so many members in a variety of committees. The Program, Virtual Platform, Communication, Advocacy, Garden Tour, Membership, 100th Anniversary and Charitable Fund Committees have all grown with new life and new ideas. I believe this is the result of the efforts of three Past-Presidents, Heather Hall, Nancy Ferris-Hostick, and Mary Jane Waszynski, in addition to those of the dynamic and imaginative Chairs. These committees have tapped into the talents of both long- time and newer members resulting in the exciting development of new club operations and initiatives, even during this time of limitations. I want to give a big shout out to you all!

I want to thank Newsletter Editor and coordinator of all email send outs, Anne Bisson, for doing such a magnificent job of keeping us informed and connected during this year of isolation. Thanks also to Elma Kimpel for keeping our spirits up with fun head shots, and to Pat Paulin, Webmaster, for keeping us visible to the community at large.

The past three years have seen great changes in my life as well as changes in the way our club operates. Thank you all for your sustaining support during the tough times. I am confident the new leadership of our club by Maureen Shantz and Anne-Marie Stockwell, bodes well for future accomplishments.

President’s April Message

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The endless violence and destruction in Afghanistan has been in world-wide news for at least 40 years. It is a country a bit smaller than Texas but with more people.  A quarter of the population lives in urban areas while the rest of the people are mostly agricultural workers in the countryside. Almost all are Muslims, but they are divided into about 20 ethnic groups, each with a distinct language and culture which partly explains why it has been so difficult for them to unite into a modern nation. It is bordered by Russia (Communism), Pakistan (backing the Taliban), and Iran (backing Al Qaeda) and all have been involved in hostilities along with the US, the UK and Canada as part of the NATO peace-keeping force.

Some other details were filled in for me several years ago when I attended a CFUW Welland meeting and heard Murwarid Ziayee, then the National Director of Canadian Women for Women of Afghanistan (CW4WA) speak about her beautiful, mountainous homeland and what it was like for her as a woman raising a family to live there. The situation was even more dire than I imagined and with increasing threats whenever she left the house, she and her family had to emigrate to Canada. She ended her talk with ways women of the world could help: fundraise to help girls go to school and lobby our government to participate in the peace process. She stressed that the Afghan voice alone is weak and needs to be strengthened with that of international partners.  Now with Zoom meetings available, it might be possible to have her or another activist speak to us in the future.

This past February, I registered for a joint Zoom meeting being presented by the GWI NFA2NFA* Partner Project between CFUW and GWI-Netherlands. Both countries have been active in learning about, discussing the issues and developing an Advocacy Tool kit. The topic was “The Significance of Ongoing Afghanistan Peace Negotiations for Afghan Women.” One speaker was Dr. Lauryn Oates, from Vancouver, who among her many titles is the Executive Director for CW4WA. She likened the plight of Afghan women to being “Canaries in the Coal Mine”. The maintenance of rights for women often determines the success of peace negotiations for the country. What is happening to women in Afghanistan is happening elsewhere in the world. The price for stopping the violence and killing is often the loss of women’s rights. The other speaker was Salma Alokozai, an activist and the CW4WA Country Director, speaking in the middle of the night from Kabul. They both described the unsatisfactory negotiations starting in February 2020 when the US actually signed an agreement to stop the violence during peace talks with the Taliban without the participation of the democratic Afghan government! Although promised, the Taliban refused to stop the campaign of attacks and assassinations, and between March and June the violence was the highest in the last 19 years. Many journalists, activists and women have had to leave the country. The Taliban want to change the Constitution to remove rights of many, including women, and the democratic institutions are in danger. The Taliban has not negotiated in good faith, and there is disaster in the offing if forces keeping the peace are removed too soon. Women could be forced to return to the dark days of Islamic apartheid, be incarcerated in their homes, required to wear veils, be accompanied by men, and be denied education, employment and health care. Their position is perilous because few women’s voices are heard at the peace table, and terrifying bomb blasts and gunfire prevail. Notably, the Taliban have included no women on their 21-member negotiating team. The Afghans have included four women on theirs, so of the total of 42 members on the complete team, only four are women!

Remarkably, despite threats, there are many women’s groups in Afghanistan that are joining forces and demanding that the negotiations result in peace with dignity. They fear that negotiations will result in trading rights for education for both girls and boys for lack of violence. The Taliban claim of support for education is belied by their actions. Many schools are presently closed in Taliban controlled areas. Although they recently threatened to restrict girl’s education to the third grade, they have backed away from that at the moment.

CFUW Ottawa has been learning about this human tragedy since 2010 when a small group of members were inspired by a talk given by Dr. Sima Samar, a human rights activist. They were shocked to learn the plight of women in her country, but also discovered that education was their hope. So, they formed a Study and Interest group called University Women Helping Afghanistan Women, (UWHAW). When Dr. Simar was asked what Canadians could do to help Afghan women, she suggested they share their campaign with other women’s groups. And the CFUW Ottawa Club has done just that. As they became more informed, they were invited to be speakers at local women’s organizations and other CFUW clubs. They have written to the Prime Minister and other senior Canadian officials urging Canada to play a leading role in the ongoing peace talks. They have presented seminars and workshops at National AGMs across Canada, at the GWI Triennials in Istanbul, Turkey and Cape Town, South Africa, and presented a Parallel Session at the 2014 UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York.

Along the way, GWI has been extremely supportive by highlighting their activities on their website and in their programme materials. The imminent need for international participation in the peace process resulted in the design of a six-month project replicating the process of the UWHAW but included working with other NFAs. The project got National approval and was accepted by GWI for the NFA2NFA platform. GWI-Netherlands asked to join them, and their first webinar was the one I described above.

The final webinar is on April 24, 2021 and will feature three remarkable Afghan women including one of the women peace negotiators, and a moderator from the EU. The GWI network can potentially reach 15,000 educated women in 75 countries! Those interested can replicate the project in their own club. As CFUW Ottawa says “We can use our GWI voices across our globe to strengthen those of the Afghan women. Together we can encourage our governments to hear these courageous and articulate women, and work with them and their government towards a permanent and just peace not only for these women, but for their daughters and granddaughters. These women, who have suffered through 40 years of war, need and deserve our support at this critical period. Let their voices be heard.” Watch for the invite link to register on the GWI website.

*(NFAs: National Federations and Associations are members of GWI. There is one NFA per country.)

President’s March Message

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I hope you found the links about GWI in the February Newsletter helpful in learning more about our grandmother organization. More are after this message which I hope you will access and read. I attended both the Dialogues in January and found them mostly monologues defending the National Board decision to allow clubs to decide whether to support GWI. The 35 or so PowerPoint slides mainly explained how CFUW works with only one slide about GWI. I have attached the link for the slides so you can judge for yourself.  Slides from Dialogues Presentation

Questions were to be typed into the Chat and periodically summarized with answers. Frustratingly, many were not answered. I did spend much of last weekend reading the massive number of unedited chat comments emailed to me by a friend who took screen shots.

Here is one: Sample Comment

A summary of some of the questions with answers has just been sent with the February 19 Club Action News-letter and can be found here:  Q&A Summary If you are interested in having any remaining information from the dialogue sessions sent to you, please email me and I will forward anything I receive.

In the last 45 minutes of each session, we were invited to join breakout rooms to talk amongst ourselves, and these were the best part of the sessions. There were between 4 and 10 participants and we had too short a time to hear much of how other clubs were operating and hear reasons for their club’s inclinations. In one of my breakouts, a participant asked if GWI membership was worth the money when they only support six projects. I pointed out that GWI aims to make systemic change through its advocacy. Projects help only a few people in a specific place, but GWI also has permanent members monitoring and contributing to discussions in UN meetings in all four venues of Paris, Vienna, Geneva and New York, and since it is highly respected for its advocacy for education of women and girls, it speaks with the voice of 50 plus countries, whereas CFUW speaks for only one! I am glad to support GWI’s international advocacy so I can concentrate my efforts on our local and national issues.

Of course, the overriding question is what our dues will be going forward. I feel that the issue of dues is unnecessarily complicated and therefore allows for misunderstanding and misinterpretation. It is described on several of the Dialogue slides but here is what I understand: In February 2020, our club sent $76 of our dues per member to CFUW. This covers about $54.50 for National and $21.50 for GWI. The GWI portion pays for the January to December 2022 year. The rest pays for the National June 2021 to May 2022 year. The National Board claims that $21.50 isn’t enough to cover the GWI dues and that it has incurred a debt of about $9,000 for the 2020 year! Many club members disagree with the bookkeeping and thus the ongoing arguments. The dues can only be changed at an AGM, so unless the clubs vote for a dues increase next June, we will pay the same as always.

Another complicating factor is that only CFUW National is the member of GWI, and only clubs are part of CFUW National, not us as individual members. Our dues are dependent on how many women are in each club. This is why National wants to know how many clubs want to support the work of GWI. The National Board has been negotiating with the GWI board about dues and although they have not finalized anything, there is a suggestion that a sliding scale might be used, and if our Canadian numbers are about 6,000 members, our dues will remain about the same. The greater the number of opt-in club members, the lower the dues per club member. Another suggestion is that GWI dues might need to be raised about $5.00 starting in 2023. We should find out more at this year’s National AGM in June.

I believe the reason we need to vote our preference by March 31 is that National wants to estimate how many clubs will opt in so they can estimate what our GWI dues will be in 2023 after the results of the current negotiations. Your Executive is planning to have an electronic vote after the March General Meeting but the date has not yet been set. Please keep an eye out for an invite to vote via Survey Monkey sometime between March 9 and 31. The outcome of this vote is not written in stone and can be adjusted next November. Any questions? Please email them to me.

GWI Information:

GWI Projects: graduatewomen.org/what-we-do/

GWI – The case for educating women: graduatewomen.org/the-cause/

Brochures: GWI Brochure; STEM Brochure

GWI Newsletter February 3 GWI Update

Sign up for GWI twice monthly newsletter: GWI Newsletter Sign-Up

President’s February Message

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For the past 101 years, CFUW National, and all its Canadian clubs, have been members of the international organization, IFUW now called GWI or Graduate Women International. Membership in GWI has always been required in the National Constitution in Article 4.

As many of you probably know, membership in GWI has been a bone of contention for the last five years partly because of increasing fees. The motion to remove Article 4 has been voted on at each National AGM but has failed to reach the required two-thirds majority each time. To date, no solution has been proposed that satisfies both sides of the issue, and the divide has become wider and deeper to the point that several clubs are withholding their dues and threatening to leave the national organization.

As a result, the National Board voted on December 1 to allow clubs to decide if they wanted to be a member of GWI or not, even though this contravened the constitution and therefore was illegal! The National President sent a message to all clubs on December 9 announcing the vote which of course resulted in a flurry of angry emails. Only local clubs can vote to change the National Constitution! President Wilkinson’s message and the dates for two scheduled Dialogues to discuss this issue are in the January 7 and January 13 Club Action Newsletters. I strongly encourage you to register for one or both Dialogues, scheduled for January 28th at 7:30 PM and January 30th at 12:00 Noon. You can read and register here: From National Board – GWI/Dialogues.

I have been attending monthly meetings of three different President’s Groups for the past year and have been hearing about this growing crisis. One group has been trying to come up with a solution to satisfy both sides. Last Wednesday, several members presented a novel proposal for the others to discuss. We all thought it might work but wanted a way to be sure this option would be put on the Dialogue agenda for discussion. It needed a non-controversial club to send a letter requesting the addition of the option to the agenda, and St. Catharines best fit the bill. So after much discussion and editing, your Executive unanimously approved the letter, and it was sent on Sunday, January 10, to the National President and Board. It is also being sent to all 99 other clubs across Canada. You can read the letter by clicking: Letter to CFUW National re: GWI proposed solution.

I believe in the value and importance of GWI and the work they do across the world. However, your Executive did not commit you to support the option mentioned in the letter or any position at all. We will be asking for your opinion in the next few months. We will need to vote, perhaps as early as March to decide whether we, as a club, support GWI membership or not.

As with all votes, we need to understand the facts in order to make a decision. If you want to start increasing your understanding of GWI, please see my updated history of events here: My Case for GWI. Please also visit the GWI website: GWI website and check out the 2020 Year in Review: GWI Year-at-a-Glance. Former CFUW President Tammy Irwin also wrote about a GWI success story that illustrates cooperation in action. You can read that here: GWI Success Story by T. Irwin.

As for our current daily situation, I find a good thing about February is that the days become noticeably longer. This will be especially important during the next month of lockdown. I am also realizing that attending virtual General Meetings reinforces the feeling that although I am physically isolated, I am not emotionally isolated. Thank goodness for Zoom, my family and you! Please stay home and stay safe.

President’s January Message

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In the delightful presentation “If Teapots Could Talk” at our December General Meeting, Pauline Grondin referred to several historical events in the enfranchisement of Canadian Women which I think bear expounding upon.

In the early 1900s, when women were campaigning for the right to vote, their suffrage meetings were frequently disrupted by angry opponents. In those days, many women were forbidden to attend these meetings by their husbands or fathers, or simply lacked confidence to do so because of strong public opposition. But women did traditionally hold teas when children were born, and for other family events. Since men didn’t attend these gatherings, the suffragists started calling their political meetings Pink Teas. Only women were invited and frilly decorations and many pink doilies festooned the tea tables. If opposition did appear, the organizer simply changed the subject. Thus, Pink Teas became a way for women to meet and discuss various issues of importance, including suffrage.

Nelly McClung was a suffragist in 1914 and was one of the founders of the Political Equality League in Winnipeg. When she and her group of supporters met with Manitoba Premier Rodman Roblin to argue their case for allowing women to vote, they were met with derision, rudeness, and lack of respect, such as, “Nice women don’t want the vote.” Nelly, a well-known author of a highly successful novel and other published works, decided to write a play in the form of a mock parliament which would use the antifeminist rhetoric to argue against giving men the vote! Her female cohorts imitated the mannerisms and language of the male legislators, and she took the part of the swaggering, cigar smoking Premier. It was called “Let Them Howl.” By all reports, the performance was extremely funny and so effective that many felt it was a major reason why the Roblin government was voted out of office in 1915 and Manitoba women were given the vote in 1916. Some of you may remember a re-enactment of the play in 2017 when our club hosted the CFUW National AGM at Brock University. St. Catharines member Pat Milland played Nelly McClung/Rodman Roblin and I was one of a dozen parliamentarians. I remember being so impressed with the cleverness of the dialogue.

By 1924, most Canadian women had the vote but were still not able to be appointed to the Senate because they were not considered “qualified persons.” This outraged suffragists. An especially determined one, Emily Murphy, discovered a little-known provision in the Supreme Court of Canada Act that said that any five people acting as a unit could petition the Supreme Court for an interpretation of any part of the Constitution. So, she enlisted four of her activist friends in Manitoba, one of whom was Nelly McClung, and they submitted their petition. When it was declined, they went to a higher power and petitioned the Privy Council in England! Thirteen years after winning the right to vote, on October 18, 1929, the Canadian decision was overruled, and women were deemed “qualified persons,” able to run for and hold any public office. This became known as The Person’s Case, and the suffragist group became The Famous Five.

Fast forward to 1955 when Laura Sabia was president of our club and later president of CFUW National from 1964 to 1967. She had been advocating for women’s rights and, being unhappy about the slow progress, pushed for a Commission on the Status of Women. When that issue seemed to be going nowhere, in frustration, she told an aide to tell Prime Minister Pearson that if he didn’t move on the proposal, she would march two million women to his office! The press had a field day with the remark and even though Laura confided to friends that she doubted she could get two women to march, her reputation was such that the wheels were set in motion and this past December 7th was the 50th Anniversary of the establish-ment of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. (However, more work needs to be done – see page 3 of the January 2021 Newsletter)

The major milestones throughout history did not happen overnight but were the result of persistent advocacy often over many years. This is what will be needed in the coming years as we support progress in Long Term Care of the Elderly, National Childcare programs, elimination of Violence Against Women, and the end of Human Trafficking, just to name a few goals.

Happy New Year!

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.

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 ndcw.ca 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 graduatewomen.org 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: cfuwstcvirtualmtg@gmail.com 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.