Unity At Home
We have heard much promotion of unity among Canadians. Even though Quebec has held referendums about separating from Canada, the women of this country have found ways of joining hands and coming together in friendship.
Helping our fellow Canadians:
Funds were sent from British Columbia to Ontario and Quebec after the ice storms a few years ago, and to flood victims in Manitoba when the Red River overflowed its banks in 1997.
Beginnings in Northern Canada
Larger projects to strengthen ties across provincial and territorial boundaries include such projects as Operation Santa Claus, Into the North and the Project dubbed Gift Coupon #367. In 1963, the Women’s Institutes in northern Canada were in their infancy. To assist them in their operations, members from all corners of Canada were asked to contribute to Gift Coupon #367 which would address the issue of the development of communities through adult education and friendship. Soon there were more than a dozen groups, with many members from the First Nations bands. The Capnoweta WI in Fort Smith, concerned about activities for youngsters, sent out a plea “Any Roller Skates to Spare”? A cement floor in the local curling rink had been made available to them, so children’s roller skates were highly desired.
Operation Santa Claus arose out of an idea in the Summerland – Penticton area. Started in the 1970’s this plan sent small gifts to First Nations communities in the far north. If not for these gifts, the Christmas season there would have been quite bleak. Toys for children, useful articles for adults and seniors were gathered. Largely based on donations from Women’s Institutes, members packed large boxes which were flown to their destinations through courtesy of Pacific Western Airlines. For many years the number of parcels sent annually was close to 500. Into the North is a current project that assists families in the north with their need for children’s clothing, bedding and similar items.
Patients in mental health care facilities were remembered also. One year, the BC Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association made its annual Christmas gift report saying that over 6,000 gifts had been received. The Executive Director wrote that without the Women’s Institutes their appeal for gifts would not have succeeded for “the Institutes carried it almost single handedly for two years!”
Closer to home, the members of the Women’s Institute foster friendship and cooperation among women in local areas, giving rise to more efforts and achievements within those communities. When local people band together and work toward single or multiple projects in their own area, they are building their community to fit their needs. Who better to decide what your community needs than the residents who spend their time there? Are there things that you want to change – develop – encourage – in your community?
Do you have a Women’s Institute? If Not, Why Not? Leave us a comment and discuss how to start one in your community and sharpen its focus on your community’s needs!
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