The 2017 Coldest Night of the Year Walk Was Amazing!
YWCA Regina's second annual Coldest Night of the Year walk on February 25 again surpassed all expectations and goals...
179 walkers of all ages!
Nationally, Coldest Night of the Year took place in 113 communities, involved over 18,000 walkers, and raised over $4 million for organizations serving Canada's most vulnerable populations. In Regina, all proceeds are used to support YWCA programs and services for homeless women and families.
Click here for more highlights from the 2017 Coldest Night of the Year.
For 2018, Coldest Night of the Year will take place on Saturday, February 24.
Photo credit: Robert S. Thompson
Barb Byers Named Women of Distinction 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
YWCA Regina is pleased to announce that Barb Byers has been selected as recipient of the 2017 Women of Distinction Lifetime Achievement Award. One of the most influential women in the Saskatchewan and Canadian labour movement, Byers has been a strong voice and a tireless activist for the interests of women, youth, indigenous people, workers and marginalized populations throughout her career.
Currently based in Ottawa as Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), Byers was born in Saskatoon in 1951, and began her career as a social worker for Saskatchewan Social Services. Active in the labour movement since the late 1970s, Byers has given leadership over the decades in the areas of labour education; health care; workplace training, technology and literacy; employment insurance; apprenticeships; and issues of concern to women workers, workers with disabilities, and gay, bi-sexual, lesbian and transgender workers.
"Saskatchewan is my home,” Byers says. “It is where my heart is, so recognition from the YWCA and people in my home province is an extra special honour. I know this honour comes with responsibility to continue to give back to my province, and to increase my actions to support the women and men in my community who envision a world full of equality, justice, dignity and peace. And I will do that with joy in my Saskatchewan heart."
"We are excited and proud to honour Barb Byers with the Lifetime Achievement Award,” Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen, Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Regina, says. “In her public roles and private actions, Barb demonstrates a unrelenting commitment to social justice. Throughout her career, she has been an inspiring role model and an effective advocate for women, youth, and workers.”
While employed with Saskatchewan Social Services, where she served for 17 years, Byers became active in the Saskatchewan Government Employees’ Association (later SGEU), and became the first woman president of the union in 1984, while the Progressive Conservative government of Grant Devine was in power. In 1988 she became president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL), and during her tenure she fought to maintain public services, for increased safety in workplaces, for greater equality for all, and for increases in minimum wages and labour protections for all workers.
In 2002, Byers became the first Saskatchewan woman elected Executive Vice-President of the CLC, and in 2014 was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the CLC. In December 2015, she was appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition of her "contributions as an important voice in the Canadian labour movement."
The Lifetime Achievement Award is conferred annually by a selection committee based on four criteria: the recipient must be a woman of influence, a woman of exceptional accomplishment, a woman of exemplary character, and a woman of endurance. Since 1981, YWCA Regina’s Women of Distinction Awards have celebrated women whose outstanding achievements contribute to the community and are an inspiration to others. Nominees in eleven award categories, in addition to Lifetime Achievement, will be introduced at a March 25 reception, and the awards presented at the 36th annual Gala on May 11.
Brand new name and look for YWCA's thrift store
The Grand Opening of the newly-named and redecorated Encore Market took place on September 21, with an enthusiastic crowd of shoppers, media, staff, and YWCA clients on hand.
Closed for several weeks for renovations in the summer months, the former Anything Goes store reopened with a larger inventory, better selection, and a brighter environment.
But the purpose behind the store remains the same. Run entirely on a volunteer basis, the store’s behind-the-scenes mission is to provide no- and low-cost clothing and household goods to women and children who are in transition. Every day, YWCA clients from My Aunt’s Place homeless shelter and Isabel Johnson Shelter for women fleeing domestic violence access essential goods that help them to start new homes and new lives.
In addition, Encore Market provides exceptional value and a great shopping environment to customers from the community, whatever their income or circumstances. Store profits directly benefit YWCA programs for women, children, youth, and families.
Encore Market’s inventory is supplied entirely by donations of goods from the community.
Plans to renovate and renew the Anything Goes store began in the fall of 2015 with YWCA’s participation in the Affinity Credit Union Business for Good crowdfunding campaign. The campaign raised $10,000 from more than 500 community donations. Donors also had opportunity to vote on the store’s new name.
Giant garage sale benefits Regina shelters
On May 6-7, local Royal Lepage realtors held a giant garage sale in White City as part of a Canada-wide initiative called National Garage Sale for Shelter. Proceeds were donated to the YWCA Isabel Johnson Shelter, and to Sofia House. (Photo: Jessica Dunn of Royal Lepage, left, presents a cheque to Carol Yoner, Shelter Manager).
Since 1998, the Royal Lepage Shelter Foundation has raised more than $20 million and currently supports 200 women’s shelters and partners across Canada. As well, their agents donate a portion of their commissions, staff volunteer their time, and provide in-kind goods to benefit the women and children residing in their local shelters.
This year, the White City event featured lots of family-friendly activities—including superheroes, face painting, and inflatable bouncers.
Senator A. Raynell Andreychuk Named Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
At the 35th annual YWCA Regina Women of Distinction Gala on April 28, Senator A. Raynell Andreychuk was presented with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. Senator Andreychuk`s distinguished 40-year career as lawyer, judge, diplomat, and Senator has demonstrated exceptional dedication to promoting freedom, democracy, and human rights throughout the world.
Senator Andreychuk has also been a lifelong supporter of voluntary associations and community service, in Saskatchewan, Regina, nationally and internationally. Her voluntary roles include, among many others: President, Regina Family Services Bureau; Honorary Patron, Big Sisters; National President, YMCA of Canada; Honorary Patron, Match International (matching women’s
needs in Canada and the third world); and Executive and Board Member, Saskatchewan Centre for the Arts.
“I am deeply honoured to be recognized with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award,” Senator Andreychuk says. “Saskatchewan gave me the support and opportunities to pursue human rights and justice issues and my professional career. There is no greater honour to be received by an individual than being acknowledged by one’s own community.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award is conferred annually by a selection committee whose decision is based on four criteria: the recipient must be a woman of influence, a woman of exceptional accomplishment, a woman of exemplary character, and a woman of endurance.
“YWCA celebrates the participation of women in every sphere of endeavour,” says Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen, Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Regina. “We’re delighted that Senator Andreychuk is the 2016 Lifetime Achievement award recipient. She is an inspiring model of principled leadership in realms where Canadian women continue to be underrepresented.”
Senator Andreychuk was born in Saskatoon, and earned Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of Saskatchewan. In 1976, she was appointed a Judge of the Saskatchewan Provincial Court, and went on to serve as Associate Deputy Minister of Social Services, and as Chancellor of the University of Regina from 1977 to 1983. Her diplomatic career began in 1987, with appointments to Kenya, Uganda, the Comoros Islands and Somalia; concurrently, she was named Canada’s Permanent Representative to three United Nations bodies, and in 1990 became Ambassador to Portugal.
Called to the Senate in 1993, Senator Andreychuk was the first female senator from Saskatchewan. Her work as Senator has focused on human rights, including the rights of the child. She was a founder and co-chair of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association, serves as chair of the Standing Senate committee on Foreign Affairs and International trade, and as chair of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators.
Senator Andreychuk is active in the Ukrainian community and on issues relating to Ukraine. She chaired several Canadian election missions to Ukraine and has spoken against illegal activities in the Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin; she was one of thirteen Canadians banned from traveling to Russia under sanctions imposed in March 2014. After Ukraine’s independence, she was a member and chair of the Canada-Ukraine Legislative Project, and introduced the first Motion in Parliament Respecting the Famine Genocide in Ukraine.
Since 1981, YWCA Regina’s Women of Distinction Awards have celebrated women whose outstanding achievements contribute to the community and are an inspiration to others. In 2016, nominations were received in eleven award categories, in addition to Lifetime Achievement. Click here for a list and photographs of 2016 award recipients.
Photo above: Senator Raynell Andreychuk (right) with Leader-Post presenting sponsor representative Irene Seiberling
Parker Place and Evergreen House care for harder-to-place children
In partnership with the Ministry of Social Services, YWCA Regina opened Parker Place in the spring of 2012, and Evergreen House one year later. Both homes are emergency receiving facilities which complement the service of Kids in Transition Shelter (KITS), which opened in 2009.
Parker Place can house up to four 8-12 year olds, while Evergreen House accommodates four 0-7 year olds; both homes serve children who for a variety of reasons are harder to place in permanent homes, and therefore need transitional housing for a longer time period. The three emergency receiving facilities combined have a capacity of 18 children who have been removed from their homes by Social Services staff and are in transition to suitable, longer-term homes.
Staff at all three homes have a vision for the residents that goes beyond providing for basic needs. Through recreation, developmental activities, a homelike environment, and individualized care, children are encouraged to grow in health, communication, managing emotion, and in other ways.
Parker Place was named for long-time YWCA Regina supporter Anne Parker.
YWCA residents benefit from REACH mobile grocery store
The Community ‘R’ Mobile Store program of Regina Education and Action on Child Hunger (REACH) now comes to YWCA Regina—and provides a convenient way for YWCA residents to access healthy food.
Every Tuesday afternoon, with the volunteer assistance of clients of YWCA’s Kikinaw Residence, the mobile grocery store sells fruit, vegetables, meat, breads and dairy products at the McIntyre Street location. And while the store is open to anyone, YWCA residents and clients especially benefit.
“We’re very pleased to be part of the REACH program,” Executive Director Deanna Elias-Henry says. “Transportation to grocery stores is a barrier for many of our clients, so this definitely fills a need.”
Shelter staff educate RCMP cadets about intimate partner violence
Since 1995, staff from the YWCA Isabel Johnson Shelter and other Regina shelters have conducted training sessions with RCMP cadets about intimate partner violence, and the role shelters play in reducing the impact of violence.
The sessions are typically about two hours in length, and involve 40-50 recruits. Topics covered include provincial and national statistics about domestic violence, relevant legislation and legal processes, the cycle of violence, types of abuse, and available resources. One of the recurring questions cadets ask is why women stay in abusive relationships.
“The goal is to have the cadets achieve an understanding of the patterns involved in abusive relationships,” says Kerri Hill, Children’s Resource Worker at Isabel Johnson Shelter. Kerri was impressed at how engaged the cadets were at a recent presentation. “They asked tons of questions—questions about abuse, and about how shelters do their work.”