For over 15 years, YMCA Calgary has partnered with YMCA Ukraine to promote youth development opportunities and learn from one another, as we aspire to make our communities better for future generations.
As the war in Ukraine continues, so does the incredible humanitarian efforts of its people and YMCA Ukraine. YMCA Calgary is committed to continuing to share awareness about the needs abroad and raise funds to aid ongoing humanitarian efforts.
In June, YMCA Calgary attended a virtual session whereby YMCA Ukraine and YMCA Europe presented on the first 100 days of war and what they know, as well as how they have been responding. Here were some devastating statistics they shared which have only grown since that time:
There are 20 YMCA associations still supporting local needs and operating on the ground in Ukraine. Additionally, there are 2 hubs in YMCA Lviv and YMCA Kropyvnytskyi that are receiving and distributing humanitarian aid supplies.
As of June 2022, the YMCA Ukraine hubs had:
- 35+ tons of goods
- 900+ big boxes
- 160 shoeboxes, 20 backpacks, 18 bags
- 100+ destinations
- 7,000+ people
Thank you for your support of YMCA Ukraine. They continue to face the unimaginable every day and yet are still persevering to ensure they support their communities and the growing needs of their people.
To date, with support from donors, YMCA Calgary has raised a total of $90,283 to support YMCA Ukraine in their humanitarian efforts. This includes a combination of individual and corporate gifts as well as all donations made through the YMCA Ukraine wristband sales. 100% of all dollars raised for YMCA Ukraine is sent to YMCA Ukraine to support their humanitarian efforts.
Again, thank you for your generosity. If you are interested to learn more about our partnership, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Canada Day, YMCA Canada is reflecting on this moment in time, the state of our country, and the world. From the work to support refugees who continue to flee from countries like Ukraine and Afghanistan, to divisions around COVID-19 safety protections, and continued inequities in our society, it is clear that many challenges lie ahead of us. We have seen what is possible when we work together for a greater good, as we have throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But we have also seen what happens when we ignore our collective responsibility to each other.
At the YMCA, we have always believed in the greater good, and even when things seem dark, we fiercely hold onto this belief as our guiding light. That together, we can be a place for people to connect, hear each other, and live up to our collective responsibility. That we can help people do more than participate —we can help them contribute. That when we do this, we build healthy communities.
We’re hopeful that the sentiment that everyone has the right to belong, thrive, and have their basic needs met will persevere. We recognize the harm to communities when that is not the dominant sentiment, and we hold no tolerance for harmful ideologies. We believe people can learn and transform and come to realize that everyone has the right to belong. This is the Canada We Want.
Last year on Canada Day, many called for the need for reflection and action on truth and reconciliation, as Indigenous communities mourned and grappled with the identification of Indigenous children’s remains at former residential school sites in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. Also in 2021, Canada marked its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Since last year’s Canada Day, more searches have begun and recoveries have been made across Turtle Island. As Indigenous communities expect the number of unmarked graves to continue to rise, today we are taking time to acknowledge the grief and outrage that is being felt through the ongoing recovery process, and to amplify calls for further progress on the TRC Calls to Action.
As one of Canada’s largest service charities, the YMCA has a vital role to play in furthering truth and reconciliation efforts within our organization and beyond. This is reflected by our Statement of Reconciliation, our 2020 report on Reconciliation Initiatives within the YMCA Associations of Canada, and the ongoing learning and dialogue events and workshops taking place for YMCA staff, volunteers, and members. We still have much work to do.
This Canada Day, we encourage all non-Indigenous Canadians to make time for unlearning, anti-colonial solidarity efforts, and truth and reconciliation actions that address the past harms and legacy of the residential school system. We express continued solidarity with Indigenous communities, including our Indigenous YMCA staff, volunteers, and members.
We remain hopeful that through the strength of caring, collaboration, community, we can move closer to achieving the Canada We Want.
The month of June is National Indigenous History Month, a month to recognize and celebrate the history, culture, and diversity of the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people of Canada. On June 21, the summer solstice, Canada celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day with hundreds of events and festivities to recognize the many achievements of Indigenous People in Canada.
At YMCA Calgary we are proud to work with Indigenous children, youth, and families through programs that support cultural identity, leadership, and recreation. As we reflect on the important work we have ahead with respect to truth and reconciliation, we welcome you to join YMCA Calgary on that journey and take some time in June to participate in upcoming activities and learning opportunities both within the YMCA and the broader community.
We will be hosting outreach events at our branches throughout the city and will be collaborating with Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) to deliver an interactive virtual reality experience featuring an Elder guided journey through Writing on Stone Provincial Park.
Branch Event Schedule (Virtual reality experience at events listed w/ USAY):
- June 13 Branch Outreach Event from 10 a.m. – 12 at Melcor YMCA at Crowfoot
- June 14 Branch Outreach event w/ USAY from 2 p.m. – 6 at Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge
- June 15 Branch Outreach Event from 8 a.m. – 12 at Remington YMCA in Quarry Park
- June 16 Branch Outreach Event w/ USAY from 2 p.m. – 6 at Brookfield Residential YMCA at Seton
- June 23 Branch Outreach Event w/ USAY from 2 p.m. – 5 at Saddletowne YMCA
- June 24 Branch Outreach Event from 8 a.m. – 12 at Shawnessy YMCA
Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary (AAWC) will be hosting several free events:
- Indigenous Variety Showcase on Sunday, June 19, from 1 – 4 p.m. at Studio Bell National Music Centre (Free admission, must register online here)
- National Indigenous Family Day & POW WOW on Saturday, June 25, from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. at Calgary Stampede Grounds – South Park (Free admission, open to the public)
Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) will be hosting their Treat7 & Trivia Launch Event featuring Elder prayer and traditional dancers, singers and drummers.
- Monday, June 20th, from 2 p.m. – 5 at Fort Calgary
We are looking forward to celebrating and sharing knowledge with you throughout Indigenous History Month.
YMCA Ukraine Update: May 13, 2022
YMCA Ukraine and YMCA Calgary have been partners for 15 years, working together to share ideas with a common goal – to make our communities better for future generations. Our shared priority now is to support urgent humanitarian needs abroad as well as support refugees as they come to Canada.
Recent updates from Viktor Serbulov, National General Secretary of YMCA Ukraine, shared how through donor support they are purchasing and transporting food, diapers, hygiene products, and clothing across Ukraine, as well as offering activities for children and families and mental health support to attempt to ease people’s minds on the current realities as well as keep them connected to one another.
In March, Local Laundry supported those affected by the war in Ukraine with the release of a limited edition zip-up hoodie. 100% of profits from the Ukraine zip-up sweater is going to YMCA Calgary, which is sending the funds to our partners in Ukraine to assist people in leaving the country, finding safe shelter, and providing warm blankets, personal hygiene products, basic aid items, and medical supplies. We are happy to share that they raised over $5,238.87 in support of YMCA Ukraine.
YMCA Ukraine Wristband Campaign
To continue to raise awareness and much-needed funds, YMCA Calgary is selling YMCA Ukraine wristbands at all YMCA facilities across the city. You can show and give your support by purchasing a wristband at member services for a minimum $5 donation with 100% of the donation going to YMCA Ukraine. Any gift over $20 is eligible for a tax receipt.
You can also make a donation directly to Ukraine below:
May 5 marks the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit Peoples+ (MMIWG2S+) in Canada. It coincides with Red Dress Day.
Red Dress Day began in 2010 as art installation called The REDress Project by Jaime Black, a multidisciplinary artist of mixed Anishinaabe and Finnish descent. The project has been installed in public spaces throughout Canada and the United States, with red dresses acting as a visual reminder of the staggering number of murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people who are no longer with us, and a way to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of these violent crimes.
Violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit+ Peoples in Canada today must be understood within the framework of Canada as a settler colonial state. The longstanding impacts of residential schools, the pass system, the 60s scoop, and ongoing acts of colonization such as resource theft and disproportionate underfunding of vital services often result in Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, and gender diverse people having less access to supports, safety, and lives free from violence.
A RCMP report that estimated more than 1,200 Indigenous women and girls had either been murdered or vanished since the 1970s. The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) estimates that the number is actually nearer to 4,000 but due to incomplete data, the number is hard to determine.
On Red Dress Day, many show their solidarity by honouring those we have lost and their families, denouncing the ongoing colonial, racialized, and gendered violence being waged against MMIWG2S+ Peoples, and taking action to stop the violence. This may include:
- Reading about the 231 individual Calls for Justice in the Final Report of the National Inquiry;
- Considering how you as an individual and the YMCA as an organization can contribute to the 231 Calls for Justice, including the 8 Calls for Canadians;
- Wearing red on May 5;
- Using a virtual background on May 5 that recognizes Red Dress Day;
- Using hashtags on social media to raise awareness, such as: #MMIWG, #MMIWG2S, #RedDressDay, #WhyWeWearRed, and #NoMoreStolenSisters;
- Hanging a red dress in a visible space; and
- Continuing to learn more and take action (see Additional Resources for Learning and Action below).
If you’d like to learn more and take action to stop the violence, here are some resources:
💻 Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) Resources
🎥 Video: Canada Must End Genocide of Indigenous Women & Girls Now – Pam Palmater
📣 KAIROS Canada – Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Advocacy & Action
🔊 KAIROS Canada – Their Voices Will Guide Us: Student and Youth Engagement Guide
💟 Amnesty International – No More Stolen Sisters: What Can I Do?
📚 UBC: Featured Books, Media and Performing Art Expressions on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, & Two-Spirit (MMIWG2S)
First-in-Canada arts series to bring the best in live performance to Calgary communities in 2022
Beginning in May, YMCA’s Seton and Rocky Ridge locations will be alive with the sound of music, as YMCA Calgary launches “YMCA Presents”, a YMCArts series that will bring the best in professional performers into Calgary’s communities for live performances in 2022. The series will kick off with “When You’re Smiling”, a special concert featuring the Tim Tamashiro Jazz Quartet – making their first cross-Calgary tour to perform in both YMCA theatres – May 7 @ 7:30 at the Evan Hazell Theatre (Brookfield Residential YMCA at Seton) and May 14 @ 7:30 at the BMO Theatre (Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge).
“When You’re Smiling” will be a callback to the rat pack led by extraordinary Calgarian jazz musician and arts champion Tim Tamashiro (known across Canada as the former host of CBC’s main stem jazz program “Tonic”). Tamashiro is all set to sing and narrate the musical stories of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., three of the most talented rascals ever to put on tuxedos. The Tim Tamashiro Jazz Quartet will take audiences on a thoroughly entertaining musical journey celebrating the remarkable trio’s friendship, songs, and stories. Performances will take place cabaret-style with a full bar; tickets are $30 for members and $32 for non-members (with discounts for full tables).
The initiative comes from YMCA Calgary’s belief that the opportunity to explore and develop our creative selves should be available to everyone. YMCA Calgary is the first YMCA in Canada to expand its spaces and integrate core arts programming. In addition to this performance series, YMCA Calgary will offer engaging, professional, and accessible creative programming to all ages in locations across Calgary classes and camps will include dance, music, drama and visual art.
“Art and creativity are significant contributors to our well-being and success as humans,” said Shannon Doram, President & CEO at YMCA Calgary. “We have a long history as a trusted charity in the Calgary community and believe that layering in creative pursuits alongside physical ones has the power to boost potential in people of all ages.”
The YMCA Presents live performance series is hosted in two state-of-the-art theatres, the BMO Theatre in Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge, and the Evan Hazell Theatre in Brookfield Residential YMCA at Seton.
Upcoming shows include:
- When You’re Smiling – Tim Tamashiro Jazz Quartet (May 7 & 14)
- Al Simmons’ Inventive Musical Comedy (October 15 & 16)
- Nutcracker (In A Nutshell) (December 10 & 11, and Dec 17 & 18)
Find out more at ymcacalgary.org/arts.
YMCA Calgary and apparel company, Local Laundry, have teamed up to support those affected by the war in Ukraine with the release of a limited edition bamboo zip-up hoodie.
100% of profits from the Ukraine zip-up sweater will be donated to YMCA Calgary, who will facilitate the donation to the YMCA’s in Ukraine who are assisting people in leaving the country, finding safe shelter, and providing warm blankets, personal hygiene products, basic aid items and medical supplies.
Over the last 15 years, YMCA Calgary has worked together with YMCA Ukraine with the common goal – to make our communities better for future generations. Our shared priority now is to support urgent humanitarian needs abroad as well as supporting refugees as they come to Canada. The Ukraine Zip-Up Sweater provides a way for customers to support charity with a direct impact.
Available until March 31st, all Ukraine Zip-Up Sweater orders will go into production starting April 1st.
Our hearts are heavy as we watch the situation in Ukraine unfold and we know we are not alone.
YMCA Calgary is committed to supporting our Ukrainian colleagues – international partners that we consider as our extended family. Over the last 15 years, we have worked together to share ideas with a common goal – to make our communities better for future generations. We are committed to creating safe places of belonging for all and reflecting our shared collective values of caring, respect, honesty, responsibility.
We are also mindful that within our Calgary community, many people are also impacted and devastated by the reality of this conflict. Our colleague and friend Viktor Serbulov, National General Secretary of YMCA Ukraine has shared updates from Kiev, explaining the current situation and impact on the people across the country.
YMCA Europe on LinkedIn: Messages from Ukraine: Viktor Serbulov – Posted February 27, 2022
If you are able, click here to donate to YMCA Europe and to learn more about the Global YMCA’s collaborative efforts to support Ukraine.
By Nwamaka Amadike (Amaka)
My name is Amaka, and I am a Nigerian Canadian. I am also the Director of Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge Child Development Centre since its inception. Along with my fellow Black colleague as my supervisor… We believe we’ve made a first in the history of our YMCA Calgary. Here, along with Caryl our GM, and Jackie my manager, we’ve worked hard to create a diverse team that we are very proud of.
Black History Month provided an opportunity to showcase some of our team members from the black community. Why may you ask? I am glad you asked. That means that you are still reading…great! Events such as this can easily lose meaning without any concrete activity to mark them. Such events can quickly fall off people’s consciousness and become boring, doing the motions, or checking the box scenario. Secondly, visibility matters a lot on issues of minority representation. It is important for the YMCA community to see that there are people from the Black community who work at the Y in different positions of responsibility. Minorities can become invisible in organizations and highlighting and giving them a voice can be a huge step in showing recognition. Representation also motivates others to action. It is important that the Y’s Black community realize that they have people who look like them that are visible and that they can look up to for inspiration.
And to lighten and spice up the mood, we chose to appear in our cultural attires, which can hardly be worn in Calgary of course (cold weather), but we thought we’d share with you anyway. We organized some diversity-themed activities with the children to mark Black History Month. We used arts, crafts, etc. to teach the children about positive elements of diversity in Canada. We believe that teaching children at a young age about diversity will provide the right foundation to be tolerant and create inclusive-minded adults in the future. Our celebration enabled the educators to share the core values of respect, caring, and responsibility with the children.
As an early years educator, we have a duty to educate the next generation about inclusion and diversity and what it means in our practice by using age appropriate materials and language and most of all, by being involved. I am proud to say that this event presented a great opportunity for learning and growth for the children in our centre as well as the educators. We hope to celebrate our cultural heritage on an ongoing basis and not only in February.
YMCA Calgary considers our international partners and colleagues from YMCA Ukraine as part of our extended family.
As part of our active involvement in the World Alliance of YMCAs, we directly partner with the YMCA in Ukraine and Bogotá, Colombia to exchange expertise, resources, and share ideas.
Over the last 15 years, we have worked together to share ideas with a common goal – to make our communities better for future generations. They have been leaders in youth engagement and demonstrate an incredible commitment to building community through volunteer efforts.
We have been receiving regular updates from the YMCA Ukraine team at the national office and can share that they have been optimistic and resilient while experiencing heightened stress and anxiety. Just days ago, the team was holding an international workshop on the topics of conflict prevention and resolution, psychosocial resilience, and employability in crisis situations.
We share their hopes for peace and keep them in the forefront of our thoughts.
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