Advocacy

As members of The Canadian Federation of University Women, we believe in the power of women working together.  

Our organization encourages its members to use their expertise to bring about positive change in the lives of women and girls, and in the broader society.

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Advocacy has been an integral part of CFUW since its inception in 1919, and the organization has played a significant role in working for social change, with an emphasis on women's issues.

An Ontario-wide survey of clubs in 2019 identified the following significant concerns:  health care, long term care; climate change; poverty, especially child poverty; affordable housing and homelessness; education and schools; early learning and child care; gender-based violence.

Working Groups

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder - FASD

In 2015, CFUW clubs from Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph proposed this resolution: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Diagnosis, Intervention and Support Plan for Children, Adults and Families Affected by FASD.

Housing & Homelessness

The Housing Working Group has been working hard to discover ways that we can add CFUW’s voice to those dealing with a growing housing crisis.

Environment 

Locally, we focus on informing and educating our members, and we add our voice to local issues. Information and education have been provided on regional recycling programs,  as well as the benefits and importance of trees in our community, encouraging the planting of trees to support the local sustainable urban forest strategy.

Aging and Long-Term Care

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the systemic failings in many Canadian long-term care (LTC) residences and galvanized organizations to work together to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

This working group was formed in February, 2021 to lead our club’s advocacy actions related to LTC and the broader societal issues that relate to Aging, including age discrimination and other models for LTC.  The message coming from experts at national, provincial, and local levels is clear:  public pressure on elected officials must be maintained to make sweeping changes.

Housing & Homelessness

2019/2020

We have reached out and interacted with a variety of social agencies and groups in the Region to learn about existing strategies and determine where we might fit in to help advocate for action on affordable and supportive housing in Waterloo Region. We organized target letter-writing campaigns. 

 

We have heard stories of lived experience, of homelessness, of ‘renovictions’ due to gentrification and market speculation, and about the need for planning that includes greater public interest policies. Other cities in Canada are finding inspiration in the experiment of Housing First, which Finland has enacted with encouraging results.  

 

The Region of Waterloo, in collaboration with our local cities, is developing a housing strategy to meet the demands of the growing number of homeless and precariously-housed people in our rapidly growing cities. Every demographic of society -- youth, seniors, the disabled, Indigenous people, and immigrants -- is affected by the scarcity of affordable and appropriate homes.  Our club's Working Group continues to inform us on the possibilities for action in this vital area of our society. 

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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder  FASD 

2019/2020

The resolution proposed: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Diagnosis, Intervention and Support Plan for Children, Adults and Families Affected by FASD was adopted nationally at the AGM in 2016. In 2015, CFUW clubs from Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph proposed this resolution: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Diagnosis, Intervention and Support Plan for Children, Adults and Families Affected by FASD.

The resolution was adopted nationally at the AGM in 2016.

 

A member of our club's FASD Working Group is working with the Waterloo Region FASD Action Group, which has estimated that $150,000 spent on FASD prevention could save $1.6 million in support costs.   Bill 172, currently before the Ontario Legislature, is designed to legislate training and professional development related to FASD for all Ontario educators.

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Environment

2019/2020

There are numerous Club policies on the protection of our environment. Locally, we focus on informing and educating our members, and we add our voice to local issues.

 

We have written letters and been active on social media to protect the water in our Region.

 

The designation of Kitchener, Waterloo and Wellesley Township as “Bee Cities” by Bee City Canada is another area of interest, to be explored more fully.

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Aging and Long-Term Care

2020/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the systemic failings in many Canadian long-term care (LTC) residences and galvanized organizations to work together to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

 

This working group was formed in February, 2021 to lead our club’s advocacy actions related to LTC and the broader societal issues that relate to Aging, including age discrimination and other models for LTC.  The message coming from experts at national, provincial, and local levels is clear:  public pressure on elected officials must be maintained to make sweeping changes.

 

To date, working group members have attended many webinars and, along with CFUW Windsor and CFUW Oakville, promoted CFUW Stratford’s “Long-Term Care in Ontario Survey”.  Other actions include: reaching out to larger organizations, writing letters to local MPPs, providing club members with information and sample letters in club newsletters and on social media, meeting with Kitchener-Conestoga MP Tim Louis, reading Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission’s Final Report (April 30, 2021), and continuing to learn more about national standards and principles, aging at home, and alternate models.

 

Future actions include:  developing background papers and questions to ask candidates in upcoming elections, hosting the current and incoming Executive Director of the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging at a general meeting, and tracking the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations.

 

Institute for Research in Public Policy (IRPP), “A Roadmap to Long-Term Care Reform”

CFUW, Take Action

CFUW, “Long-Term Care in Canada, What Now? What Next?”

Ontario Health Coalition, Long-Term Care/Chronic Care

(CARP), Long-Term Care

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Open Closet

March 2020

In the early spring of 2020, nearly 40 volunteers - mostly from our club, some from the wider community - worked to set up, organize, supervise and clean up this pop-up giveaway of clothes and accessories to community members in need. At 4pm on set-up day there was a stream of cars at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in downtown Kitchener. Volunteers, racks for clothing display, boxes of hangers, many cups of coffee, and bags and bags of donated clothing poured in. The next morning, in spite of the cold there was a long lineup of shoppers waiting to get in; until closing time, the door to the street was rarely closed.

 

More than 175 members of our community walked away with new clothes.  It is the smiles on the faces of those people who found appropriate clothing for themselves, or warm clothes for their children, that remain with us. 

 

We thank the Mennonite Central Community shop "Thrift on Kent" for their assistance again this year.

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December 6 Vigil:  National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

2019/2020

Every year our club has organized a solemn service of remembrance for the 14 young women murdered at L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989.  

 

Gender-based violence pervades our society, and addressing this grave societal issue is a major focus of CFUW.  Our K-W club's annual service has taken many forms, and in 2019 we mounted a well-attended commemoration with presentations by the Director of our community's Sexual Assault Support Centre, and by a spokeswoman on the subject of violence against Indigenous women.  

 

This year (2020) the University of Waterloo and the CFUW K-W have partnered to create an online commemoration that was broadcast live on YouTube on December 4, 2020. Click here to view the 2020 virtual ceremony

 

​Our national organization has produced a toolkit of information and strategies to help increase awareness of this issue, and to suggest possible actions.  Every year there is a 16-day campaign of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence which runs from November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to December 10, International Human Rights Day.  December 6th has been established as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. It is vital to remember that women's rights are, in essence, human rights.

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December 6 Vigil

Ending violence against women is a major priority for CFUW clubs across Canada, and our members can be trailblazers in our communities and across the country.  

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Open Closet

Since 2016, we have been honouring International Women's Day by sponsoring and organizing our “Open Closet” event.

Our organization encourages its members to use their expertise to bring about positive change in the lives of women and girls, and in the broader society.