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This blog is the third in a series by guest blogger and YWCA Cambridge employee Tara Kleinsteuber exploring Truth and Reconciliation and her own story of moving through the world as an Indigenous person.

So, I’ve told you how I’ve watched my family endure racism. I’ve told you how I’ve struggled to identify. I’ve told you that my grandpa went to residential school (probably multiple times, because as I mentioned in my last blog, we Indigenous folk need to prove our trauma!). I’ve told you how I’ve rarely seen representation from women who have similar stories to mine. Have I told you how I have kept so much of this inside until now? Have I truly given you enough examples of how these things impact me day to day?

This blog is the second in a series by guest blogger and YWCA Cambridge employee Tara Kleinsteuber exploring Truth and Reconciliation and her own story of moving through the world as an Indigenous person.

The title of my last post was “See Me, Hear Me, Understand Me,” and after it was published, I couldn’t help but think to myself “I wonder how many people are reading that I’m a Metis woman, and feeling confusion when they look at the photo of me? Are they ‘seeing’ me?”

I am the child of a Metis mother and a white father. My mother’s father from what we know, had parents who descended from the Red River Settlement. The names of my great grandparents and beyond can be found on lists in the records of the very first Metis families in Manitoba. Most of the names on my family tree can now be Googled. My mother obtained her Metis status after a lengthy process of gathering together her family history and my grandfather’s birth certificate. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I need another qualifier other than “my grandfather attended a residential school.” Isn’t that sad…a “qualifier”? Why do I feel I need to prove that I am worthy of identifying as Metis? Oh, that’s right, because genocide and systemic racism have led us to believe that Indigenous people don’t really exist anymore, and those that do must answer for their blood quantum. Please bear with me as I put together my point for you.

Today, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, we're launching a mini blog series from guest blogger and YWCA Cambridge employee Tara Kleinsteuber exploring Truth and Reconciliation and her own story of moving through the world as an Indigenous person.

Before I attended YWCA Canada's Annual Membership Meeting, I was told how powerful the movement was, and that I would absolutely feel it. Well, I felt it; and that feeling lifted me up and inspired me to use my voice. I returned from this year's AMM theme of Reconciliation with a freshly-lit fire, burning for change. This blog series will hopefully inspire folks to open their hearts to the truth, and turn what they've learned into understanding, and the desire to do the work.

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YWCA Cambridge celebrates Pride Month and remembers that there’s still so far to go.

It’s June, which means it’s Pride month! It’s been a prominent theme throughout our programming this month. We’ve made Pride buttons with SHYFT participants, chalked Pride-themed pictures and notes on the sidewalk with the SHORE Centre’s Just4Me program, made pride banners with our STEPS gals and facilitated conversations around Pride, its history and all topics  gender. This time of year, with all of the events and discussions in media about Pride events and LGBTQ2IA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual/gender, Queer/Questioning, Two-Spirited, Intersex, Asexual) issues provides a wonderful opportunity to have these conversations with folks who may not otherwise know how to raise the topics.

Pride brings some of the world’s largest parties to cities. The parades are fun; they’re colourful; they’re a safe space for everyone to freely express themselves and to do so in an embracing community. But the Pride parade as we now know it wasn’t always so glittery and fun, and, really, the conditions that led to its inauguration have not completely disappeared.  The first Pride Parade took place in New York City in 1970, and it was no parade at all. It was a march.

 A guest blog post by YWCA Cambridge GLOW Coordinator Samantha Germann

GLOW, (an acronym for Girls’ Life Of Wellness)  is a holistic wellness program that makes space for young people ages 8 to 14 to explore all things health in a safe, inclusive and flexible space.

The 10th Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes walk to end gender-based violence was an enormous success, even getting some media pick-up!

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Waterloo Region presented by Meridian. The walk, historically a men’s walk now open to folks of all genders, aims to raise awareness in our community about the serious and persisting prevalence of gender-based violence.  

Wazhma Frogh is an absolute powerhouse. She is a member of the Afghanistan High Peace Council and also the founder of the Women & Peace Studies Organization (WPSO), one of the few civil society organizations in Afghanistan that is working for women’s inclusion in the security sector reform processes with a particular focus on women in the police force. She has worked with women leaders from all over the country to ensure that women are utilized as resources for building peace at the local level and that they are meaningfully included in the country’s peace process. We are so excited to hear Wazhma tell her story on April 29 at She Talks 2019!

Tessa Hill is no stranger to sexism and harassment. Growing up in Ontario, Canada, she had heard stories from her friends about catcalling and slut shaming in the hallways at school and on social media. Tessa had learned early on about “rape culture,” especially on college campuses, where sexual assault is rarely punished and where survivors of all genders are often disregarded or even seen as at fault. So, when Tessa and classmate Lia Valent were asked to choose a social justice topic for an eighth grade school project in 2014, naturally they chose to tackle rape culture. Their project, Allegedly,  went viral online and Tessa quickly became a strong voice in the sex education fight, also championing the "We Give Consent" Change.org petition which gathered tens of thousands of signatures. We are so excited to hear her speak at She Talks 2019! 

Today, the Government of Canada announced a grant to YW Kitchener-Waterloo and YWCA Cambridge through the Women’s Program of Status of Women Canada, totalling $200,000 over four years. The grant will fund a joint project by the two YWCAs to address organizational capacity needs throughout Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, and seek to ramp up the push for social and systemic change towards gender equality by facilitating a coalition of organizations and community members as well as collecting, analyzing and making public gender-based data to inform community programming.

“Women’s organizations know the importance of advocacy work,” said YW Kitchener-Waterloo CEO Elizabeth Clarke.

You would be hard-pressed to find someone in the Ontario beer industry who doesn’t know and love Ren Navarro. For over six years she has been regarded as one of the most respected members in the industry, spending much of her 6+ years in the field as a sales representative for renowned and award-winning breweries like Redline Brewhouse, Woodhouse Brewing Co., Great Lakes Brewery, Descendants Beer & Beverage Co., and Kensington Brewing Co.

Alongside her fervent love of the craft beer world is her determination to bring it to a more diverse audience. An outspoken critic of the old notion that beer is a drink primarily for "white dudes", Navarro is on the frontlines to initiate change both in and out of the industry.

Dana Bookman is the founder and CEO of Toronto Girls Baseball and the Canadian Women’s Baseball Association. She started Toronto Girls Baseball for her six year old daughter, who loves the game, but wanted to quit after a season of being the only female player in a league made up of 400 boys. Today, Toronto Girls Baseball is the only all girls baseball league in Canada for girls ages 4-16. It grew 840% in the first year alone, and has served almost 550 girls so far. The league has expanded to three locations in the GTA and also to Nova Scotia and Manitoba.

Violence has a far-reaching, long lasting impact for all who are touched by it. Yet we rarely talk about it. In her remarkable documentary, A Better Man, Attiya Khan bravely breaks that silence. Her film explores the abusive two-year relationship she endured with a man named Steve more than 20 years ago, when they were both teenagers.

In making A Better Man, Attiya took a huge step in overcoming fear—fear for herself, that her depression, anxiety and insomnia would resurface, and for Steve, over how viewers would react to him. The risk was well worthwhile; creating the film offered a gateway to true healing for both of them, and a valuable tool for many, many others.

If you were in the Galt Country Club banquet hall last night, you were witness to something pretty magical.

Last night, we all gathered to celebrate the work and achievements of 10 awe-inspiring women for our 25th Anniversary Women of Distinction gala.

But “awe-inspiring” doesn’t even begin to do them justice. These women are blazing trails in their communities through advocacy and activism, through education and mentorship, through volunteering, and through entrepreneurship. They’re doing it all with real, genuine intentions, and improving lives for so many people. We thank each and every one of them for their work and commitment. Throughout the evening, as nominators shared the stories of the recipients, the room filled with laughter at times, with tears at others, and even snaps and hoots at others.

YWCA Cambridge unequivocally condemns the terrorist attacks in Christchurch New Zealand. As an organization with a degree of visibility in the community, we feel it is our duty to speak out about these atrocities, and to say without reservation that we condemn white supremacy, we condemn racism, we condemn Islamophobia.

YWCA Cambridge is proud to announce the winners of the 25th Anniversary Women of Distinction awards:

“To be honoured in this way for the work I have loved is truly wonderful.”

 

In December, YWCA Cambridge Women of Distinction alumna (1996) Dr. Mary Law received the Order of Canada for her work in occupational therapy, particularly with children with disabilities and their families. To say we at YWCA Cambridge are proud of her is an understatement.

When asked how she felt about receiving the Order of Canada, Law said she was “thrilled.”

We're pretty grateful for the sweet (and delicious!) impact Jen Gralec makes within the Cambridge community. A long-term supporter of YWCA Cambridge, it's our pleasure to share some thoughtful words from the owner of Waterloo Region's most sought after bakery, Tiny Cakes.

A long-time supporter of YWCA Cambridge, we're privileged to feature Jill Summerhayes this week! Her passion and commitment to the community is broad-reaching and has been consistently impactful over the last 35 years. Read on for inspiration if you dare!

Modo Yoga Cambridge has been a long-time supporter of YWCA Cambridge and a number of other charities in the region: so we're pretty stoked to celebrate one of their three co-owners on the blog today, Christine Grant. Thanks for all you do Christine!

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As a member agency of YWCA Canada, YWCA Cambridge is part of a national movement known as the country’s oldest and largest women's multi-service organization, the largest national provider of shelter, literacy, life skills, employment and counselling programs, and is the second largest provider of childcare services in Canada.

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