The Honourable Kent Hehr, Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre, Announces Investment in Women’s Organizations in Calgary and High River

Women’s organizations provide vital services in our communities, supporting women and girls to be financially secure, free from violence, and able to fully participate in all aspects of our economy and society. Yet for far too long they have been chronically underfunded, underestimated and undermined. The Government of Canada recognizes that women’s organizations are the lifeblood of the women’s movement, and that maintaining and growing their ability to do this important work is the most effective way to advance gender equality.

That’s why today, the Honourable Kent Hehr, Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality, announced that the Government of Canada will invest over $3.4 million in nine women’s organizations and Indigenous organizations serving women in Calgary and High River.

MP Hehr highlighted the organizations that will receive funding (please see the Backgrounder for more information and testimonials):

  • Alberta Women Entrepreneurs Association;
  • Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society;
  • Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association;
  • Calgary Vietnamese Women’s Association;
  • Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter Association;
  • Calgary Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA Calgary);
  • Emma Maternity House Society;
  • Rowan House Society; and,
  • Women’s Centre of Calgary.

Funding for these projects stems from historic Budget 2018 investments in the Capacity-building Fund to support a sustainable women’s movement and the Gender-based Violence Program to address gaps in support for underserved groups in Canada who experience gender-based violence.


“With our historic investments, we recognize the women and women’s organizations breaking through barriers and express our gratitude to those who have been doing this work for decades on little more than a shoestring budget. The women’s movement across Canada has been asking for a reliable, predictable and accessible source of funds to ensure the sustainability of their work; our government listened. With stable and flexible funding, we are helping organizations in Calgary and High River grow and endure, because we know that investing in women’s organizations is the most effective way to advance gender equality. By supporting a movement that has achieved amazing results, we are growing the middle class, strengthening families and communities, and creating lasting change that benefits everyone.”

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P.
Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality

“With this new approach to sustainable funding, we are enabling women’s organizations in Calgary and surrounding areas to provide more services to the communities that need their help. This is an investment in a future where our economy and society will be transformed by advancing gender equality and preventing gender-based violence – for the benefit of all Canadians.”

The Honourable Kent Hehr, P.C.
Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre

Quick facts

  • Budget 2018 announced $100 million over five years to support a viable and sustainable women’s movement across Canada. Adding to this historic investment, Budget 2019 proposes to invest a further $160 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, in the Department for Women and Gender Equality’s Women’s Program. This means that by 2023–24, the Women’s Program, which supports eligible organizations to carry out projects to advance equality by addressing systemic barriers, will total $100 million annually. 

  • This funding will enable women’s organizations and Indigenous organizations serving women to tackle systemic barriers impeding women’s progress, while recognizing and addressing the diverse experiences of gender and inequality across the country.

  • To date, the Government of Canada has invested over $200 million to prevent gender-based violence, support survivors and their families, and create more responsive legal and justice systems.

  • Gender-based violence can have lifelong impacts on an individual’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health. Additionally, the effects can be serious and costly. Annually, the economic impact of intimate partner violence and sexual assault is estimated to be over $12 billion.

  • Canada will host the Women Deliver 2019 Conference from June 3 to 6, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Held every three years, it is the world’s largest gathering on gender equality and the health, rights and well-being of women and girls. 

  • The conference is part of a global movement to promote gender equality worldwide and give voice to a broad spectrum of people, including Indigenous peoples, youth and those living in conflict and crisis settings. It will bring together more than 7,000 individuals—world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, youth and journalists—from more than 160 countries, with an additional 100,000 people joining virtually.


Department for Women and Gender Equality’s Women’s Program 

One of the ways the Department for Women and Gender Equality advances gender equality in Canada is by providing funding to eligible organizations through the Women’s Program. Projects are selected via calls for proposals on specific themes, as well as through a continuous intake process that allows the Women’s Program to address emerging issues as they arise.

The Women’s Program funds projects that address systemic barriers to women’s equality in three priority areas: ending violence against women and girls; improving the economic security and prosperity of women and girls; and encouraging women and girls in leadership roles. 

Capacity-building Call for Proposals 

In October 2018, Minister Monsef announced a Call for Proposals under the Capacity-building Fund of the Women’s Program. Projects at the local, provincial, and national level were eligible for different amounts of funding, based on their specific need and reach. 

On March 8, 2019, International Women’s Day, Minister Monsef announced that over 250 women’s organizations across the country would receive funding from the Capacity-building Fund. 

The objective is to fund proposals that will increase the capacity of eligible women’s organizations and Indigenous organizations serving women, whose initiatives contribute to a viable women’s movement in Canada that advances gender equality. Funding will increase the ability of organizations to grow, meet the increasing demands for their services, and continue to work collectively to address gender equality issues. The fund stems from the Budget 2018 announcement of $100 million over five years to help support a viable and sustainable women’s movement across Canada. 

Alberta Projects                     

Today’s announcement profiled seven projects in Alberta selected for federal funding through the Capacity-building Fund: 

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs Association (AWE) 

Project title: Building A Foundation of Strength and Sustainability
Funding amount: $750,000 

AWE seeks to increase its capacity to deliver innovative programming for women entrepreneurs, particularly those in remote, rural, and Indigenous communities. Building successful networks for a digital economy is a central strategy for the organization’s sustainability goals and a key factor in closing the business gender gap. As growth and organizational strength become more sustainable, AWE will seek to attract and retain new talent for supporting established women looking to grow their businesses and expand into new markets.  

Since 1995, AWE has been providing tools and resources to help women across Alberta succeed in starting or growing a business. For more than 20 years, it has connected women with access to capital, training and workshops, business advising, and mentorship opportunities. 

Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA) 

Project title: Building for the Future
Funding amount: $114,560 

Over the next five years, CIWA will elect a new board chair and CEO to determine future priorities and direction. It is seeking to build the capacity of its senior and middle management teams to enhance the core services that support the advancement of equality of immigrant women in Calgary. Efforts include strategic planning to cope with coming changes in governance and direction for the future of the agency. This is expected to make transitions less disruptive to planning and service delivery and provide a stable direction for future priorities and well-managed growth. 

Established in 1982 as a non-profit, CIWA uses a holistic approach to support clients in the areas of settlement and integration, literacy and language training, employment support, family violence, parenting, individual counselling, in-home support, civic engagement, health, housing, and community development. Over 230 businesses and employers in Alberta collaborate with CIWA to support access to employment for immigrant women. 

“Receiving funding to build agency capacity is always a challenge due to funders’ primary focus on client service. We are very pleased to receive this important investment from the Government of Canada as it will enhance our capacity twofold. On one hand it allows us to coordinate Board transition and enables us to keep knowledge intact through the supports provided to incoming Board members. Additionally, it enables us to build the capacity of the senior management to support new leadership and ensure the continuation of excellent client service. With this body of knowledge and experience, we can collectively build the future of the organization.” 

Beba Svigir, Chief Executive Officer
Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association

Calgary Vietnamese Women’s Association (CVWA) 

Project title: Capacity Development for Vietnamese Women Leaders in Calgary
Funding amount: $35,795 

CVWA wants to employ professional non-profit management and upgrades to organizational expertise to meet the needs of the Vietnamese women’s community. Improving its board members’ understanding of roles and responsibilities in building an effective and sustainable non-profit will provide the expertise required for CVWA to expand and meet the demand for more women’s programs and services. To leverage existing partnerships and collaborations, undertakings will include additional training, networking, and fundraising through a series of workshops to improve sustainability and develop effective strategies for managing growth. 

CVWA is a registered non-profit dedicated to enabling Vietnamese women in Calgary to become active participants and leaders in the community through volunteerism and personal empowerment. 

“As a small organization serving minority women with many demands for programs, services, events and activities, we struggle to grow and remain financially stable without a professional management structure. We are excited to hear the Government of Canada has chosen to invest in our organization. With these new resources, we will train core members in how to manage and grow a successful non-profit, such as ours, to ensure we can become sustainable and manage future growth.”  

Calgary Vietnamese Women’s Association

Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter Association (CWES)

Project title: Expanding capacity for dignity-driven practice in the family violence sector
Funding amount: $250,000

CWES is a recognized leader in the field of family violence counselling. It seeks to build capacity to deliver innovative and effective counselling for survivors of family violence by enlisting the help of specialists in response-based therapy. More training and resources are required to expand its counselling program and to raise the expertise of staff and management in terms of how clients are assessed and introduced to the program. 

In 1973, a 13-bed shelter opened in the Beltline area of Calgary for women and families. The following year, CWES registered as a charity and has expanded to serve over 15,000 Calgarians annually.   

“We are excited about this funding being awarded today by the federal government. It will give us the tools and the time we need to expand our ability to engage and work effectively with both victims and perpetrators of family violence in Calgary.” 

Kim Ruse, Executive Director
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter Association

Calgary Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA Calgary) 

Project title: Evaluation Framework 2.0: Building capacity to evaluate impact
Funding amount: $250,000 

The Calgary YWCA will build organizational capacity through the ongoing review of internal processes that design and deliver effective, relevant programming. By refining the measurement and development processes, new feedback procedures and decision-making protocols will allow for the creation of programming that will help to achieve the YWCA’s vision of a safe and equitable community. 

The Calgary YWCA is the largest and longest serving women’s organization in Calgary. During its more than 108-year history, it has touched tens of thousands of lives and has continually evolved its programming to meet the changing needs of women in the community. 

“The YWCA has a long and well-documented history in Calgary that goes back more than a century. We continue to adapt to the changing needs of the women and families we support. The funding from the federal government comes at a time when the need for stable, long term, reliable financial support to expand and reinvent the way we deliver services and programs to achieve our vision of women living in a safe and equitable community is needed more than ever.” 

Sue Tomney, CEO
Calgary Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA Calgary)

Emma Maternity House Society 

Project title: Emma House Strategic Plan                                                                                   
Funding amount: $50,000 

Emma Maternity House Society seeks to advance and expand its mission. To do so, it will clarify its vision, gather and analyze data, and measure and evaluate the outcomes of revised programs and procedures to make necessary changes or adjustments. 

Initiated in 1992 by two police officers and individuals concerned about the lack of shelters available for pregnant women and youth facing homelessness, Emma Maternity House Society became the only shelter in Alberta dedicated to reaching out to women and youth who were vulnerable to homelessness while pregnant. 

“As a small agency with a big mandate, we are very pleased with today’s funding announcement from the federal government. This investment will grant us the space and time we need to develop a professional strategy for growth and transformative change. This investment will strengthen our agency while we continue to provide programs, services, and safe housing for expectant mothers.” 

Carmin Moore, Director of Operations
Emma Maternity House Society

Women’s Centre of Calgary 

Project title: Strengthening organizational structures during a time of transition
Funding amount: $239,800 

As the Women’s Centre of Calgary undergoes a transition in management and governance, the need to build capacity with a succession plan and future fundraising options has become a priority. It seeks to strengthen its internal management structure during a time of major personnel changes. A key management role will be assigned and mandated to lead and support internal change that ensures diversity, equity, reciprocity, and inclusion in the agency’s decision-making and program priorities. This position will be reinforced with a strategic succession plan and sustainability plans focused on diversification of funding. With this work, it is expected that the Women’s Centre of Calgary will better serve the needs of local women. 

The Women’s Centre of Calgary started in the 1970s at the YWCA and became an independent organization in 1997, receiving charitable status in 2000. Today, it has over 750 active volunteers and provides free access to basic needs support, lifelong learning programs and community building opportunities. 

“The resources to plan long-term in response to changing environments is critical to sustainability. Finding those resources has often been a struggle for small women’s organizations, given our funding constraints. We are very excited to see the federal government make a long-term funding commitment to our project. This will enable us to respond to changing community dynamics, manage our coming leadership transition and better serve women in Calgary.” 

Susan Gillies, Executive Director
Women’s Centre of Calgary

Department for Women and Gender Equality’s Gender-Based Violence Program 

Following the June 2017 announcement of It’ s Time: Canada’ s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, the Department for Women and Gender Equality (formerly Status of Women Canada) launched the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Program in January 2018. 

The GBV Program complements the department’s Women’ s Program, and helps organizations working in the GBV sector to develop and implement promising practices to address gaps in supports for survivors and their families.

While violence affects people of all genders, ages, cultures, ethnicities, geographic locations, and socio-economic backgrounds, some populations are more at-risk and face additional barriers to accessing services. The GBV Program responds to this need by providing funding to eligible organizations at the local, regional and national levels for projects that address gaps in supports for specific groups of survivors, including Indigenous women, and other underserved populations, such as children and youth, LGBTQ2 communities, non-status/refugee/immigrant women, seniors, women living in official language minority communities, women living in northern, rural and remote communities, and women living with disabilities. 

Alberta Projects                     

Today’s announcement also profiled two projects in Alberta selected for federal funding through the GBV Program: 

Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society 

Project title: Reconciliation and Healing from Trauma and Violence: An Indigenous Healing and Wellness Framework as a Promising Practice for Indigenous Survivors and their Families
Funding amount: $1 million 

The Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society will test and evaluate the organization’s Indigenous Framework for Healing and Wellness to address gaps in supports for Indigenous survivors of gender-based violence and their families. Expected outcomes include strategies to develop more culturally-sensitive delivery models. Increasing the participation of men and other family members impacted by family violence is an important part of the Framework for Healing and Wellness and will be explored and expanded upon. In all, the Framework will be evaluated and improved to ensure Awo Taan may continue its commitment to excellence in the delivery of services to Indigenous peoples. 

Incorporated in 1992 as a not-for-profit Canadian organization, Awo Taan helps build parenting skills and nurture wellness and positive parent-child relationships. It provides community services guided by Indigenous traditional teachings to women and children from all cultures affected by family violence and abuse. 

“It is our mission to provide community services to anyone affected by family violence and abuse, guided by Indigenous teachings. With this investment, we will be able to build on the work we’ve done by ensuring that approach effectively supports everyone affected by gender-based violence in our community.” 

Josie Nepinak, Executive Director 
Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society

Rowan House Society 

Project title: The Stay at Home – An Alternative to Women’s Emergency Shelters in Rural Southern Alberta
Funding amount: $731,289 

Rowan House will test the applicability of a “Stay at Home” (SAH) option for women living in rural areas who are experiencing domestic violence by allowing them to stay near family, friends and familiar support networks. The premise of SAH models is that perpetrators of domestic violence are held accountable for their actions while being supported in adapting healthier behaviours. While the perpetrator is in a temporary housing facility where they are offered counselling, the women and children remain safe in their homes and are provided with support services as required. 

Incorporated in 1999 as a non-profit, Rowan House provides crisis intervention and long-term support for those affected by family violence in rural communities. It takes pride in pioneering best practices that reduce harm to residents and outreach clients. Rowan House was one of the first shelters in Alberta to become a fully trauma-informed domestic violence service. 

“Women in rural areas who experience gender-based violence face unique challenges to getting effective support. The funding for this project will help us address those barriers by using innovative methods for intervention that are specific to their needs.” 

Chris Tulloch, Board Chair
Rowan House Society

Source: Status of Women Canada

Advancing gender equality takes a village – no one person or group can do it alone. – Kent Hehr, MP