The UN Commission on the Status of Women is the largest annual gathering of the international women’s movement.This year, the 62nd year, the emphasis was on the challenges for rural women and girls. To read the report by Gail Neff, a CFUW St Catharines member, and one of CFUW’s delegates, CLICK HERE.
This month’s featured scholarship recipient is Vanessa Smith, a graduate of the NCDSB Lifetime Learning Centre. As with other recipients, Vanessa wants to give back to the community by tackling mental health issues. To learn more about Vanessa & to view the Newsletter in full, CLICK HERE . . .
Last year an Ad Hoc Committee worked to restructure our Executive Committee reducing the number of members who would be attending the five meetings from 26 to nine voting positions. The new format created a Chair of Standing Committees with sub committees under their leadership. While there are still 26 members taking leadership positions, only the Chairs are required to attend the meetings while the others are invited to attend any meeting and are included in all mailings and sharing of reports. The new format is working: the work has flowed well and the attendance has been good. The meeting room was not bursting and meetings, while lengthy, allowed for good discussion and conclusions. An evaluation of this new format will be conducted in March.
Here are some of the highlights of actions from the January Executive Committee meeting.
¨ Survey re Pre-Meeting dinner: The 2018-2019 program committee will arrange for one pre-meeting dinner where members can come early, enjoy fellowship and a dinner prepared by Father Anton
¨ Ad Hoc Committee on Technology: established and working on various projects
¨ Ad Hoc Committee on Fundraising: There was a suggestion to look at alternative methods of fundraising in addition to our wonderful signature event House Tours. Looking into and safeguarding our future, the Executive approved that we research what other clubs and organization do. If you are interested in joining this group please
contact me (email@example.com)
¨ The club will establish an Instagram account
¨ The Treasurer reported that things are in good standing and all the bills/dues are up to date
¨ The proposed Charitable and Club Grant Budget was reviewed by the Club Executive and will be voted on by all members at the April meeting.
It was such a pleasure to hear laughter and see smiles at the conclusion of this busy meeting. I invite any member to attend and get to know how it all works…contact me please.
Nancy Ferris-Hostick, CFUW St. Catharines President, 2017-18
Last month I mentioned the awards that CFUW National gives out to organizations across Canada. One of those awards is the CFUW Creative Arts Award of $4,000, presented biannually for promotion of interest and involvement in the creative arts. Nancy Ferris-Hostick and I visited the Niagara Folk Arts Centre http://www.folk-arts.ca/ with this award in mind. And were we impressed! Carousel Players has taken their theatre out of the Court House at King and James Streets and given it to the NFA Centre in exchange for free practice space in their large auditorium. This means that small theatre groups, who cannot afford to bring their productions to the Niagara Performing Arts Centre, now have a home, a wonderful 50 – 60 seat theatre with all the amenities in their beautiful building behind the main building at 85 Church St. It also means that NFA can provide space for youth creative arts productions for their expanding immigrant population. The application is being worked on as I write, since it must be submitted by March 1st.
Other great things that came out of our Valentine’s general meeting were the passing of the New Structure for the Executive and the accompanying changes to the Constitution and Bylaws. We have several positions available on the Executive for next year and hopefully this change will make it easier to recruit new members and make the executive meetings less arduous.
As to where we are at with the proposals for the distribution of the Silent Auction monies, several Executive members are researching the options and will present their findings at the Charitable Fund meeting on Feb 28th. Recommendations will be brought to the Executive Meeting on March 7th and I will have information for you at our next meeting on March 14th. I do want you to know that we are all taking this process very seriously and want to be as transparent as possible.
Our March 14, 2017 meeting is an Open Meeting, which means that you are welcome to bring friends and family (females only). This is a great opportunity to introduce potential members to the club. With our speaker being Margaret Wente, a columnist with the Globe and Mail everyone is sure to be impressed.
As I sit here overlooking the lake on a sunny, warm day I can now believe that Spring is on its way. So happy!!
Heather Hall, CFUW St. Catharines President 2016-17
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
Learn about Laura Elizabeth Newman, 1883-1968, co-founder of CFUW St. Catharines, in the History Corner as presented by our Anniversary100 Liaison Committee and much more . . . .
One 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.
CFUW National has a mentorship program to promote cooperation, build net-works, offer support and deepen understanding of women’s empowerment pathways. Read more about this . . . .
Community Recognition – CFUW St Catharines received several Recognition Awards this year. Read about them all in our October Newsletter.
Co-Convenors: Monique DeJonghe & Gail Neff
Limited spaces still available for Tours – click here for more information. To order tickets, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.