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)
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.
As we celebrate and acknowledge the diverse culture, rich heritage, and impactful accomplishments of the Black Community in February during Black History Month, we want to showcase a number of local events, seminars and resources that you can participate in, learn, and be inspired to action. This list was compiled from resources provided by Action Dignity, University of Calgary, Calgary Library and Alberta Health Services.
- Tune in to Canada’s Black History Month virtual celebration on Facebook Live on February 17, 2022 at 7 pm (ET). This live virtual event highlighting this year’s theme will feature performances, tributes, interviews and much more!
- heARTbase is hosting The Cypher: Hip Hop as a Method A Process of Critical Healing Through Art, Politics, and Culture, an introductory session that focuses on the historical context of Black popular culture and music leading up to the emergence of Hip Hop culture | Online on Feb. 17, 6 to 8 p.m.
- The Calgary Library is hosting a workshop for adults (18+), Mobilizing Arts-based Literacies: Connecting through Hip Hop. By including the literacies of Hip-Hop’s art forms, educators can communicate the importance of Black history and ways of knowing. | Online on Feb. 19, 1 – 3:30 p.m.
- Immigrant Outreach Society is hosting a Youth Empowerment panel discussion led by Black leaders in the city.| In-person on Feb. 19, 2 p.m. To register, or for more information, email email@example.com.
- The University of Calgary is hosting A Refusal to Hate: Writing and Black Wellness. In this talk, Dr. Umezurike recounts his experiences as a former graduate student, highlighting the role creative writing has played in helping him deal with instances of anti-Blackness and microaggressions on campus and the relationship between writing and wellness. | Online on Feb. 24, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
- AHS is hosting Health and Black Communities in Canada, a webinar exploring the health of key groups within the African Diaspora living in Canada today. | Online on Feb. 24, 12 to 1 p.m.
Today we are sharing the history and legacy of Violet King, a Calgary born trailblazer with a unique YMCA connection. Her name is Violet King.
Violet King was born October 18, 1929, in Calgary, Alberta. A descendant of American settlers, King’s grandparents arrived in Keystone, AB (now known as Breton, AB) in 1911. King’s parents later moved to Calgary and settled into the Hillhurst – Sunnyside neighbourhood. Violet was one of four siblings and attended high school at Crescent Heights High School, knowing at a very young age that she wanted to be a criminal lawyer, as stated in her grade 12 yearbook.
(courtesy Glenbow Archives/NA-5600-7760a)
Violet King went on to study law at the University of Alberta in 1948. The Faculty of Law at the U of A was male-dominated, and King was one of only three women enrolled. Violet showed a keen interest in leadership and public relations and got heavily involved with various clubs and the student union. During her undergraduate, King’s contributions were recognized, and she was awarded an Executive “A” gold ring, a prestigious honour she shares with future Alberta Premier, Peter Lougheed (1971-1985).
Life in Alberta presented several challenges for the King family. When King’s grandparents arrived in Canada, the Canadian government proposed a Ban on Black American Immigration to Canada, therefore limiting Black immigrants in the Canadian Prairies to 1,000 people in 1912. Violet’s brother, Ted, was the president of the Alberta Association for the Advancement of Coloured People from 1958 to 1961, and in 1959 he launched a legal challenge against a Calgary hotel’s discriminatory policy, bringing to light the legal loopholes innkeepers exploit to deny Black patrons lodging. In a 1955 speech at a sorority banquet in Calgary, King expressed hope that in the future greater focus would be placed on a person’s ability and less on one’s race or gender, in a way, a formal declaration of her mission and purpose.
Violet King receiving recognition from the Calgary local of the International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (IBSCP), June 1954.
(courtesy Glenbow Archives/NA-5600-7757a)
Following her graduation, King was actively involved in supporting and promoting the rights of Black workers, using her knowledge of racial barriers faced by Black men and becoming treasurer of the labour union, the Calgary Brotherhood Council. Violet King was called to the Alberta Bar on June 2, 1954, becoming the first Black female lawyer to practise law in Canada. King practised law in Calgary for several years, working for a firm and later a judge of the Court of Appeal of Alberta.
King moved east to Ottawa where she worked with the federal department of Citizenship and Immigration, giving her the opportunity to travel the country and meet various leaders of different service and community associations. Throughout her career, she gave speeches discussing racism and her hopes for gender and race equity.
In 1963, King moved to the United States and settled in New Jersey to become the executive director of the Newark YMCA’s community branch, where she assisted Black applicants seek employment opportunities. In 1969, King moved to Chicago to become director of manpower, planning and staff development with the YMCA. In 1976, she was appointed executive director of the National Council of YMCA’s Organization Development Group, making her the first woman named to an executive position with the American national YMCA organization.
King passed away on March 30, 1982, from cancer at the age of 52. Her legacy as a trailblazer is recognized as being a strong advocate for women and racial equality, as demonstrated by her significant leadership qualities and contributions. Violet King shattered both glass ceilings and racial barriers throughout her life and her legacy is an example to us all for the work and community building we must do and continue to do for many generations to come.
On February 26, 2021, the Federal Building Plaza in Edmonton was renamed the Violet King Henry Plaza to honour her numerous contributions and legacy.
(courtesy Gabriel Mackinnon Lighting Design)
Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/violet-king
Violet King shattered both glass ceilings and racial barriers
Retrieved from https://www.ualberta.ca/law/about/news/2021/2/violet-king.html
Criminal Justice Firsts: Violet King
Retrieved from https://www.ryerson.ca/criminaljusticefirsts/courts/Violet-King/
Plaza renamed to honour trailblazing Black Calgarian
Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-black-violet-king-henry-lawyer-1.5929853
YMCA Calgary proudly joins people across Canada and around the world to celebrate Black History Month. The 2022 theme: “February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day,” focuses on recognizing the daily contributions that Black Canadians make to Canada.
This includes acknowledging and celebrating Black YMCA staff and volunteers, and Black community members that participate in Y programming. Like Violet King, a Calgary trailblazer who became the first Black Canadian to obtain a law degree in Alberta, the first Black person admitted to the Alberta Bar and the first Black woman to practice law in Canada. She rounded out these historic achievements by later becoming the first woman named to an executive position with YMCA in the United States. We look forward to sharing this story, and many more.
Let this be an invitation to celebrate – and to learn, unpack, and take action to dismantle the anti-Black racism that exists on many levels. To effectively combat anti-Blackness, we must engage in lifelong learning and daily accompliceship.
Here are just a few ways you can get involved:
- Attend Canada’s virtual celebration featuring performances, tributes, interviews, and more on Thursday February 17 at 7pm(ET). This event will be hosted on Facebook Live
- Join the virtual panel discussion titled “Black in Calgary: Where have we been and where are we going,” hosted by Calgary Public Library on February 3. To register or view other Black History Month events hosted by the Calgary Public Library, click here
Your voices are valued and can bring change. As the theme encourages, let’s continue to listen and learn from each other, year-round in our shared effort to dismantle systemic racism.
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