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

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

March Newsletter

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Understanding the Teenage Brain

Dr. Ron Clavier was born in Montreal. Following his undergraduate studies at McGill University, he earned his Doctorate in Experimental and Physiological Psychology from Northwestern University. His Postdoctoral training was in Biochemical Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. Ron then taught Anatomy & Psychology in medical schools in Chicago & Vancouver.

Since 1982, he has run a private practice in clinical psychology. In addition, Ron consults in the corporate, law enforcement, community, health, and education sectors. He worked for a number of years as a research consultant in psychiatry at the University of Toronto & was Senior Consultant to the Council on Drug Abuse until 2007.


Please take some time to explore our new CFUW St Catharines website ( It now works seamlessly on any type of computer, tablet or smartphone. It includes all the information existing members and prospective new members might want to know about CFUW St Catharines in a highly accessible format. And it has an added feature of a password-controlled Member-Only area (where you can find Minutes and other member-only information), and also an Executive-only area for members who are on the Club’s Executive. There are photos of our members all over the website, thanks in part to the contributions of Elma Kimpel – thanks, Elma!

Click here to see full Newsletter.

February Newsletter

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Syrian Refugee Sponsorship Project: We have accepted a family of refugees. The SAC is very excited. At present there are only brief details. The father is a painter, mother a housewife and the children are two little girls aged three and less than one year. We will know more details later and at present we have no idea when they will arrive. Needless to say the group of volunteers have ramped up to full speed. We have almost all the furniture we need for the project and we would like to thank everyone for their generous donations

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President’s January Message – Sponsorship Discussion & Vote

Thanks go to the Social Action Committee (SAC) for the impressive amounts of funds raised to support sponsorship of a Syrian Refugee family. As we move closer to the possibility of sponsoring a family, Club members need to consider longer term obligations this project would bring. We have some important decisions to make based upon consideration of all of the project information to be presented by the Social Action Committee at the January meeting. Here are samples of members’ questions we wish to have answers for:

  • What is the Liability for the Club? e.g. Who will sign the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) agreement, and who will be responsible for the financial and moral obligations referenced in the MCC and government agreements?
  • Do individual Club members not directly involved in the project have any liability?
  • After the current fundraising is complete, what additional funds might be needed by the Constituent Group later on to cover unexpected costs?
  • Please describe the sponsorship settlement financial and time commitment responsibilities for the group (e.g. housing, budgeting, language instruction, health care, insurance, security checks, employment assistance, etc.) Which individuals will be responsible for and participate in these and how will they be provided?

marilynI encourage your participation in the information-gathering and decision-making processes to ensure the project is a good experience for the family and our Club.
Please send questions that you would like discussed to me by January 4 so that I can pass the questions on to Denise Bradden and the SAC to prepare to address these at the January 12 meeting. The questions I receive will be forwarded by email to all Club members on January 6 so that you have time to reflect on what the discussion will cover at the January 12 meeting. Following the discussion there will be a vote by the membership to seek the Club’s support and endorsement of the Syrian Refugee Sponsorship project.

Best Wishes for a Healthy Happy New Year!

Marilyn Wallace, CFUW St. Catharines President 2015-16


January Newsletter

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Dr. Valerie Jaeger, a proven community leader and dedicated physician, is known for her thoughtful, warm, and solid leadership. She leads a staff of more than 700 public health professionals in Niagara with a budget of approximately $75 million. The department serves over 430,000 residents living in rural & urban settings, across 12 municipalities. Her responsibilities include areas as diverse as family health, infectious disease control, health surveillance, mental health, food safety, chronic disease & injury prevention, sexual health, and the Niagara Emergency Medical Services’ ambulance & dispatch division.

Click here to read the full January Newsletter