President’s Message January – A Touch of Turbulence

On December 12, 2016, I received, as scheduled,  the CFUW’s Task Force Report “On CFUW’s Way Forward”. The report was mandated by the 2016 AGM to look at the status of GWI and their proposed dues increase. It contained 40 pages and 12 attachments and stated that it was not a conclusive report, but rather a report “to give information to our members so that we could reflect and discuss the very complex decisions on the “Way Forward” for CFUW.”

Another comprehensive report arrived from CFUW-Etobicoke reporting on their Ad Hoc Committee, which they struck in October 2016, also to gather information about GWI and the dues increase.

These reports were in preparation for a National Meeting that would take place on a Conference Call from 6:00pm to 8:00pm on January 30, 2017. During this call, I would be voting on CFUW-St. Catharines’ decision to stay in GWI with a fees increase, or opt out of GWI.

I was sent several notifications for this meeting and was informed as to how the vote would proceed.  At our last Executive Meeting, we decided that we would open the attendance to this Conference Call to our membership and listen together in a suitable location. The discussion about the vote was to take place at our January 10, 2017 General Meeting.

On Wednesday, December 21, 2016 I received a letter from CFUW’s President Karen Dunnett , in which she stated “ I am writing today because I do not see a way forward for me to use my skills and knowledge to assist CFUW through this challenging period.” The letter continues, “It is hard for me to face the fact that the lack of trust and anxiety spilling over from the previous biennium has not diminished appreciably and it is present even at the board level. I have endeavoured to work through these issues and continue to do my job as president; however, my actions in the best interest of all of CFUW have been construed by some, as other than trustworthy and honourable and the resulting tension is concerning. Despite my desire to work with CFUW women to manage this time of change, the heavy demands on my time to address the trust and anxiety problems leaves me without the time to try to bring us together to find solutions, and scarcer time to move CFUW forward in those areas of our emerging growth and influence.
“As a result and with much regret, I feel I must resign as your president.”

Barely four  hours later, I received a letter from GWI’s President Geeta Desai, in which she says “I am writing to share three decisions that the Board and I have made.

“After much deliberation, we have decided to do away with the increase. For your part in this relationship of equals, we are asking that you pay your dues (without increase) on time – the entire amount in January 2017 or at least half in January and the rest in March 2017.

“Given our cost-cutting and austerity measures, we have had to let go Amy Paunila, GWI Communications and Advocacy Officer and Helene Queyrane, GWI Programme Officer. Both women have contributed substantially to the work undertaken by the GWI office.

“The GWI Board, Stacy, our Executive Director and I have had many thoughtful discussions and we are now in the process of creating a Strategic Plan for the next three years that is membership – based with measurable outcomes.
“We hope to share it with you in January 2017.”

So there you have it. I hardly know what to say! Except 2016 has been an amazing year. In February our Syrian family arrived and is now thriving thanks to the CFUW volunteers who have helped them settle in our community. Now as they transition out of our sponsorship and prepare for the birth of their newest child, a boy, I must say that the experience of knowing them has been a life changer, as has being your President. Throughout the year I have had the privilege of attending meetings and getting to know CFUW members from across Ontario and Canada, a pretty impressive group of women! But most of all, getting to know CFUW St. Catharines has been a wonderful experience. Thank you for helping me negotiate this first half of my term and I know I can count on you for your help in 2017. We have much to discuss with the changes of the Executive Structure, the Bylaws, and where we are going to allocate the Gift of Reading monies. Much of this discussion will take place at our January meeting, when I will be celebrating the birth of my newest granddaughter in Vancouver. However, I know that your Vice-President Nancy Ferris-Hostick is well prepared to lead and answer your questions.  So as I am rocking baby Cate … let us all rock in 2017 with renewed enthusiasm for our membership in this extraordinary club. Happy Holidays!

Heather Hall, CFUW St. Catharines President 2016-17

December President’s Message – Embracing Change

2016-17-HHall-IMG-0481One of the wonderful things about being President of CFUW St. Catharines is attending incredible meetings! The Saturday November 5, 2016 Fall Gathering of CFUW Ontario South  was no exception. Presented around their theme “Reflect- Refine-Rejuvenate and Embrace Change”, the speakers were outstanding. Starting with the very welcoming mayor of Burlington, Rick Goldring, father and step-father of 7 girls, who was raised by a CFUW mother, he praised CFUW for the important work that we do and the impact we have on our communities. It was a reminder of the power that our 230 St. Catharines members can have when we present our voice as one.

“Embracing Change” was the focus of The Honourable Paddy Torsney’s presentation. She is a former member of the House of Commons representing Burlington and now the Permanent Observer of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the United Nations. She had so much energy and her stories of navigating the world of National politics as a 31 year old woman were hilarious and inspiring. Again she reminded us that dialogue with community leaders can lead to positive change.

After a scrumptious lunch which I ate on the patio of the spectacular Burlington Golf and Country Club overlooking the harbour, MP, Katrina Gould, continued enthusiastically to speak on “Embracing Change”.  Katrina, who is a member of CFUW made me wonder what I’ve been doing with my life! Before being sworn into office on December 2, 2015 at the ripe old age of 28, she had volunteered in a Mexican Orphanage for a year after high school, got her Undergraduate Degree at McGill in Political Science and Latin American Studies and a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Oxford.  She has actively and passionately engaged the citizens of Burlington in the House of Commons and among many other things, worked with the City to coordinate efforts to welcome privately sponsored and government assisted refugees from Syria.

Last but not least, Maureen Barry, the CEO of the Burlington Public Library took us on a whirl-wind tour of Library Innovation around the world.  Spectacular architecture, innovative services and transformational changes are all hallmarks of successful public libraries today.  Contrary to popular thought, public libraries are not only surviving in the age of the Internet, but thriving. Google “the 25 most beautiful libraries around the world” and be amazed.

So that was my day, along with Nancy Ferris-Hostick, Heather Foss and Pat Milland. And I want to stress that it could have been your day too! CFUW St. Catharine’s members are welcome to go to Standing committee meetings, CFUW Ontario meetings and even the CFUW AGM.  You do not have to be on the Executive. Please let us know if you would like to attend.

November President’s Message – Council of Women

2016-17-HHall-IMG-0481At our October meeting Shannon Passero suggested that she would come to our meetings just to hear the History Corner! This got me thinking that there are organizations in St. Catharines that I hear about but have little knowledge of. So I thought, since we are women and members of the St. Catharines and District Council of Women, I would take this opportunity to highlight some of what they have accomplished.

Established in 1918, it is an affiliate of the Provincial Council of Women of Ontario and the National Council of Women of Canada. Its first president was Mary Malcolmson, who started the Girl Guides in Canada in 1910.

In the early years they brought in the VON and started the Women’s Canadian Club. They initiated Child Welfare Centres in local churches. They encouraged women to take political office and join committees. In 1929, a “Shop-at Home” exhibition became a yearly event encouraging people to shop locally. So   relevant today.

In 1931 with a surplus of Niagara fruits and vegetables, the Council distributed them to “indigent, thrifty housewives” along with sugar and sealers. I wonder how they qualified!

In 1942, great interest in the Council brought 600 women to the Annual Meeting to hear two speakers from the Wartime Prices and Trade Board. Lobbying at this time included improving conditions in beer parlours, opposing commercialized Sunday sports, and asking for a Social Services Worker and a Policewoman.

In 1967 the Council Women sold 750 coffee spoons in honour of Canada’s centennial enabling them to give charitable donations and scholarships!

In 1976 “Women in Action” was published recounting women who made a contribution to the community from 1876 to 1976.

In 1987 their initiative started the multi-material curbside recycling program.

In 1991 a Read Canada project was set up in two non-profit housing projects.

In 2000, the Council joined the YWCA and CFUW – St. Catharines to have the “Tribute to Women” sculpture built to honour volunteer women’s groups that have existed for at least 35 years. It is outside of the St. Catharines Public Library.

October President’s Message – “Who We Are”

CF2016-17-HHall-IMG-0481UW St. Catharines is constructed around concepts such as promoting and encouraging the higher education of women, advocating for the advancement of the status of women and promoting interest in public, social and cultural relationships.

“Our Club” is a pallet full of expertise which sometimes just can’t stand by and watch kids with no books, Syrians with no home and girls needing financial help for schooling.

From one perspective CFUW St. Catharines bears the pride of the past, which you can read about on the National website. As part of the CFUW 100th Anniversary, which takes place in 2019, histories of all CFUW Past Presidents have been prepared and are available on the website under “Who We Are”. Prepare to be astonished and extra proud to be a member.

From another perspective the insistence of CFUW St. Catharines to continue and grow its Interest Groups, which are such an integral part of the social relationships in the club is to be admired. This diversity helps to encourage our new members to find a place to belong and it helps to attract prospective women to join us.

Please bring visitors to our general meetings so that they can see what a welcoming, fun and intelligent group of women we are, because increasing our membership is always important.

On September 11th, I had the opportunity to meet with the other 11 Presidents from Southern Ontario at Heather Foss’ house. Lucky for us that Heather is our new Regional Director.  Spending time discussing ideas on topics such as Membership, Scholarships, Advocacy, and Increasing our Profile in our communities was enlightening and very worthwhile.  Not surprisingly, all clubs big and small seem to have the same issues!

Heather Hall, CFUW St. Catharines President 2016-17

President’s September Message

2016-17-HHall-IMG-0481Well, no sooner did my Presidency begin than I was whisked away to two amazing conferences. The first, along with Nancy Ferris-Hostick and Heather Foss, was the Ontario Council 2016 AGM at Hockley Valley Resort on May 13 and 14, put on by CFUW Orangeville and District.  This was truly an outstanding experience, one that I still reflect upon often. There were two themes. “To Honour the Truth and Reconcile for the Future” and “To Reduce Poverty in Ontario”. The speakers were on the level of “Ted Talks”, fascinating, entertaining and so informative. We came away with new understandings of the history leading up to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and of the Ontario and International approaches to reducing poverty. And, as if that inspiration was not enough, the food was unbelievably delicious!

On June 23, 24 and 25, the National CFUW AGM & Conference took place at Brock University. How proud I was to be your President, representing the dedication and hard work of our Local Arrangements Committee under the leadership of co-chairs Monique DeJonghe and Gail Neff. It was their inspired idea to hold the conference at Brock which exists today in large part due to the initiative and drive of an exceptional woman, Flora Egerter, a member of The Allanburg Women’s Institute.

This very complex conference with business meetings, breakfast, lunch and dinners, workshops, a banquet and even a play, came off without a hitch, including the controversial discussion and voting on the resolution to remain or not in Graduate Women International (GWI). As you had instructed me, I voted against remaining along with 55% of the delegates. However, change required a 66.6% majority, so the “remain” side won.  I will be able to tell you more on this at the September General Meeting, which takes place after the GWI Triennial Conference in Cape Town, South Africa in August.

In all, my first few months as your President have been extremely rewarding and I look forward to this year with enthusiasm. Karen MacKay has put together a marvelous lineup of speakers and there will be some surprises too! So please bring any prospective members to the September meeting where you’ll connect with old friends, meet new friends and sign up for your favourite Interest Groups and Community Activities.

Heather Hall, CFUW St. Catharines President 2016-17

CFUW National AGM 2016

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AGM-2016-logo-lowresJune 23-25 2016IMG_2934-sq-lowres

Brock University
Co-Convenors: Monique DeJonghe & Gail Neff

Limited spaces still available for Tours – click here for more information. To order tickets, contact

For more information regarding Accommodation, Registration and other documents, check out CFUW National Website. To register, click the Registration Information Guide.



CFUW Welland & District 75th Anniversary

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CFUW Welland and District began as the Welland University Women’s Club in 1941 with 19 charter members. Its purpose then, as now, was to promote a group spirit among women and take an active role in public affairs. The club is commemorating this significant anniversary by organizing a display at the library and by sponsoring the award winning children’s author, Barbara Reid, to speak at the Welland, Pelham and Port Colborne libraries. And look for our CFUW logo on the public flower bed on Prince Charles Drive this summer.

PLEASE JOIN US in celebrating this special event.

June 11 – July 23: Welland Museum: CFUW Welland and District 75th Anniversary display



Anniversary Dinner
Wednesday, June 15th
Place: Riverstone Centre, 414 River Road, Welland
Time: 5:30-6:30 Symposium to make and renew friendships
Cash Bar
6:30 Dinner- choice of: beef tenderloin with blackcurrant glaze
-chicken cordon bleu(parma ham, havarti cheese) and
sundried tomato alfredo sauce
– vegetarian option on request
Book: By May 31st – cheque payable to CFUW Welland and District
For $35 (indicate on your cheque either beef, chicken or other)
Mail payment to: Barb Hohberger, 82 Champlain Ave. Welland
L3C 2L9
We hope you will join us!