Champion Stories: Enter a world of Innovation, Dedication and Caring
Congratulations to our award winners, the social architects who help people make transformational changes to their lives and build thriving communities. Read more about them and be inspired!
Here are a few of our featured stories. All stories are taken from the nomination forms.
Community-Building (C) Award
Adanech is one of the most dedicated community leaders, advocates and organizers. No matter the scale of the issue, she has been able to bring people together to find practical ways of helping, by mobilizing not just her own efforts but the entire community. This has been especially important during the pandemic where some communities […]Read the full story
Judit Kovacs & Team
Front-Line Innovative Leadership (C) Award
The Language Assessment and Referral Centre at Immigrant Services Calgary (CLARC) provides English tests for immigrants who would like to study in federally and provincially funded language programs or enrol in professionally related courses in Calgary and Southern Alberta. Before COVID 19, CLARC provided the Canadian Language Benchmark Placement Test (CLBPT) in person in the […]Read the full story
Above and Beyond Dedication in Response to COVID-19 (C) Award
Fatima has worked for The Calgary Drop In Centre for quite a few years as a Case Manager however at the beginning of the pandemic, she realized that her knowledge and education in Health Care would be required. She, like so many of us over the last year, pivoted away from her position with the […]Read the full story
Front-Line Innovative Leadership Award
In March 2020, when Alberta went into lock down, Sagesse – like many other organizations – was forced to change their Direct Service programs. Sagesse offers in-person peer support programs. These programs are designed to be done with a facilitator and all participants in one room for a set amount of time each week. With […]Read the full story
Commitment to Person-Centered Practice (C) Award
Melissa Morrison is an outstanding youth worker at Avenue 15 who truly went above and beyond during the Covid -19 pandemic. Melissa wears many hats at Trellis. She is currently the Site Supervisor at Avenue 15, (was previously the resident manager at Treehouse (an apartment building for youth and families transitioning out of homelessness) and […]Read the full story
Community Development Team (Trellis)
The Community Development Program works in vulnerable communities at a macro level and strives to empower residents. Where community resources do not yet exist, the Community Development team works with resident groups and community organizations to create these supports. From there, the team helps engage, support and mobilize communities. The work is resident-led and feedback-informed. […]Read the full story
Commitment to Person-Centered Practice Award
Cathy Keough, Director of Counselling Initiatives at Calgary Counselling Centre (CCC) has put people at the heart of her work, adapting the way she leads her team of staff, and serves clients to meet their unique needs. Her commitment to person-centred care has been even more evident this past year while facing the challenges of […]Read the full story
Front Runners (Families Matter)
Partnership, Collaboration & Connection Award
When Covid-19 emerged, many kids may have found it initially exciting to have schools shut down, but the thrill did not last long. Growing numbers of children found themselves without physical connection to their important peers, and struggling with anxiety, isolation, loneliness, and depression. While some children have consistent support from responsive parents, others were […]Read the full story
Case Management Team (Homefront)
Partnership, Collaboration & Connection (C) Award
Frontline workers are at the core of HomeFront’s services and the work they do is incredibly impactful for families and victims of domestic violence in our city. The Case Management Team demonstrates partnership, collaboration and connection – this is central to success in the intervention and prevention of family violence in our city. HomeFront partners […]Read the full story
All Award Winners – Stories that Spark a Smile
Explore our award winner stories by recipient name, by United Way location and/or by year. There are close to 1,000 stories (and counting!) that are sure to inspire.Search Winners
Your Champion Stories
Anu Dugal, Director of Community Initiatives & Policy at Canadian Women’s Foundation
Anu Dugal is a formidable advocate for women. She has previously been the Director of Violence Prevention Programs and, before that, a Board Member and Chair of the Violence Prevention Committee. Anuradha also sits on Minister Monsef’s Advisory Council on Gender-based Violence and is a member of the Conseil des Montrealaises.
Q&A with Anu Dugal
1. What is the state of gender equity in Canada, and how are non-profit organizations like the Canadian Women’s Foundation working towards achieving equity? What are the key barriers to accelerating the pace of change?
At the Canadian Women’s Foundation, we are working to promote and supercharge change in 4 critical areas: ending gender-based violence, ending women’s poverty, building girls’ empowerment, and building inclusive leadership.
The pandemic has been hard – economically, in the first month of the pandemic, women accounted for 70% of those who lost jobs. Service industry and low-wage jobs where many women work were hit particularly hard. I in 3 women consider leaving paid workforce.
In addition, women face higher burden of unpaid childcare, home-schooling, eldercare. Women who provide paid care are working on front lines, underpaid and undervalued and increased caregiving burdens impact women’s mental health.
And unfortunately, there is an additional increased risk of abuse for those confined at home with abusers. More barriers to reaching out for help, and a worrying uptick in femicide over past two years.
We recognize that there have been historic gaps and underfunding for many communities that have entrenched different forms of marginalization, discrimination and this has led to individuals and communities who remain underserved. To turn this around, we prioritize programs that serve women with disabilities, Indigenous women, racialized women, newcomer women, and women living on low incomes. Our work at the community level informs our efforts to advocate for systemic change at the national level.
Leaders and institutions need to look internally to be able to name and then reverse systemic patriarchy, racism, colonialism and other forms of discrimination. Until we are able to do this concretely, diverse women will not be fairly represented or heard in Canada.
Many of the ways that women, girls, and Two Spirit, trans, and non-binary people are invisible because not only the systems, but the way we work within the systems and the ways that we measure whether things are working.
2. Rosemary Brown, one of the eight pioneering women who founded Canadian Women’s Foundation, once said that “until all of us have made it, none of us have made it.” How does that statement resonate with you, and how does it inform the mission at CWF?
For me, this is at the heart of what we mean when we say our work is intersectional. It is not possible to move ahead with advances for one group of women if another group is left behind. And honestly, this is one of the major critiques of earlier manifestations of feminism that I would have to say – we must do better!
What this means to me is that I cannot stop advocating for childcare, even though I might have access to great childcare because I live in Quebec, and I cannot stop talking about anti-Black racism because I am not Black. This to me, also speaks to what I consider sisterhood. Sometimes it is called allyship, sometimes solidarity. For some people all those things mean something different, and I do not mean to gloss over those differences.
But at the heart of what Rosemary Brown is telling us is we are in this together – our oppressions may not look the same, but they are rooted in the same power, and we can only change those systemic inequities when we choose to share our power, using it for good, building a community that can advocate together. So think about the power you might have, and how you can share it – who do you bring to the table, who do you have a conversation with to highlight an otherwise invisible inequity, who are you advocating with, when do you give up your seat to another person, another group?
3. How does the lens of intersectionality play a role in achieving equality, equity, and justice? Should non-profits take a critical intersectional approach to their work? What resources do they need to move in this direction?
We have to challenge everyone to take up an intersectional understanding of oppression, as well as a feminist one. Yes, we must fight the patriarchal power that holds women back, but also have to see the racism, the transphobia, the ableism within the patriarchal power.
I think there are several steps to being able to make changes to how we work to include intersectionality – first is always education. Every staff member, every volunteer, and every partner need to learn about intersectionality, feminism and how to achieve gender justice. You can’t use an intersectional lens if you are unable to name transphobia within your organization materials.
Next comes action – 25% of women in Canada are living with disabilities – if your workplace does not make accommodations to ensure that it is inclusive with messages, materials, protocols, policies and so on, you will never be able to change your programs, which probably need to change!
And always we have to measure – that is a step we miss, sometimes out of the best intentions. There are ways to do this that do not entrench and reinforce discrimination and it might be different for each group, so this is part of the learning.
And then you start again from the beginning – learning from what you have already done, reflecting and continuing to make change.
4. What role do governments and corporations play in helping to advance equity in Canada?
Obviously, funding is huge! I would say please fund great programs long-term, mission-based and for community work.
Consider gender budgeting and other forms of intersectional analysis to show where money is being allocated and who it benefits.
I would also ask people within government or corporations to consider their individual power – which admittedly may not be much, but to ask if they can use their influence to make change – we are seeing this more and more with employees asking their employers to do better and also employers looking at how their employees find value in their lives, outside work. It could be very powerful to see how these can be harnessed for positive change in the workplace – especially around things like paid sick leave, decent work, flexible conditions, dependable and long-term contracts – all kinds of ways that employers can show a commitment to social justice by making sure they are not creating conditions that are exploitative or extractive.
From the Heart: Words about and from our Award Winners
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