Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Peace Quotes

"We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear... That old law about "an eye for an eye" leaves everybody blind... The time is always right to do the right thing... Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”    (Mahatma Gandhi)

We hope that you had the opportunity to experience Peace Week, and we hope that you will take the inspiration from the event and incorporate it into your daily life.

REMINDER: Peace Medal Nominations | Dealine Approaches

Nominations are being accepted until December 3, 2010!  Forms are available here on our blog (toolbar to your right) or on our website.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Peace Quotes

PEACE WEEK is underway and runs until November 27th!

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know Peace" (Jimi Hendrix)

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”  (Mahatma Gandhi)


December 3rd is the deadline from nominations for this year's Peace Medals. Please see the Peace Week headline on the right hand side of this page for all of the nomination forms, or visit our website.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Imagine for a moment that our world was at peace. What would peace look like? How would your life change?

Peace Week | November 20-27, 2010

The YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg marks YMCA World Peace Week by dedicating a week in November to engaging people of all ages in exploring peace and integrating peace building activities into their personal lives, their community and overseas.

Peace Week is an expression of YMCA values – from values of caring and respect, to efforts we make everyday to be inclusive and build bridges among people from diverse backgrounds, to work in fellowship with YMCAs and YWCAs worldwide, addressing issues of social justice and human rights.

Call for Peace Medal Nominations

Do you know an individual or group who voluntarily contributes to peace building in your community? Celebrate their achievements by nominating them for a Youth or Adult Peace Medal!

We need your help to identify individuals and groups in your community who contribute to the peacemaking process. The Peace Medal is a reminder that it is possible to build a more peaceful world, one step at a time, and that everyone can be engaged in these efforts.

To make a nomination, simply complete the Registration Form, and answer the questions on the How to Nominate an Individual or Group sheet. A full list of past recipients can be found here. The deadline for nominations is December 3, 2010.

The Recipients of the 2010 Peace Medals will be announced at the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg’s Annual General Meeting on January 31, 2011.

We look forward to celebrating Peace Week with you from November 20-27th!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

World Alliance in Hong Kong

The YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg welcomes the YMCA of Regina to the International blog! The YMCA of Regina is a fellow partner of the Tijuana YMCA and the Montevideo YMCA, and therefore there has been much collaboration between our Ys over the years. Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen of Regina attended our latest International Working Group meeting via conference call and we look forward to learning more about each other through the wonders of virtual media!  Some history on Regina's Global Participation:
The YMCA of Regina has had participation in numerous global events in recent years. This list includes sending a delegate to the 16th World Alliance of YMCA's in South Africa in 2006, as well as numerous exchange programs with the Tijuana YMCA in Mexico and Montevideo YMCA in Uruguay, and participation in the YMCA Europe Festival with a team of 8 youth in 2008. Lastly, the YMCA of Regina is proud to be sending a youth delegate to participate  in the 17th World Council meeting taking place in Hong Kong in July 2010.
Alex Rhead participated in the World Council meeting in Hong Kong and sent us some thoughts on her experience:

Alex Rhead on the left, with Koray

Let me introduce myself. My name is Alex Rhead and I am the Youth Development Director at the YMCA of Regina. I grew up at the YMCA, attended Youth programs, and I began working at the Front Desk in 2006. I graduated from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, and then transferred to work in the Y’s Community Development Department. My first International experience with the YMCA was a Conference in Mexico City in 2007. Most recently, in July 2010, I had the wonderful opportunity to represent YMCA Canada as a Youth Delegate in Hong Kong for the 2010 World Alliance.

I was most surprised about . . .

 The importance of the C in the YMCA’s around the world. The Canadian YMCA’s are a small group of organizations whose Mission is values-based, but not specifically Christian-values. I experienced this phenomenon to a degree in Mexico City, but was surprised with the amount of controversy that surrounded this in Hong Kong. Since the beginning of the YMCA, there has been debate with how integral Christianity is to the Y’s work. By no means did we get to the bottom of this issue but it was interesting to hear both sides of this conversation.

 I was most proud to be Canadian when . . .

During the Cultural Night, every Area- Alliance or Country presented something representative of where they came from. The Canadian Delegation decided to show a slideshow of Canadian landscapes while some individuals completed the sentence ‘ I am proud to be Canadian because. . .’ Afterwards, we played K’Naan’s ‘Waving Flag’ . This song was significant because it was featured in the World Cup, K’Naan is a Canadian Refugee, as well as the video featured the earthquake in Haiti, and the YMCAs of Quebec are international partners with the Haitian Y. As the video played, we handed out YMCA and Canadian Flags, and all World Council participants waved them in time with the music.

This moment was inspiring in itself, but what had an even stronger impact on me was the people that approached me afterwards. Many were curious about our country, and asked to be an ‘honorary Canadian’. We wanted our presentation to portray Canadian diversity and unity- and this was definitely accomplished.

I will bring away with me. . .

It is so important for the Y to provide opportunities for meaningful youth engagement on all levels of its governance. Our Youth Delegation recognizes that this is a very dynamic issue- and it will take lots of dedication, time and resources to implement strategies to make this a reality. Still, the YMCA is an organization that was founded by a man who at the time was only 21 years old. In order to stay relevant in our communities, the YMCA must engage the youth and utilize them as a resource for the present and future. YMCA Canada has taken steps to begin to develop a year-round forum for youth voice in federation decision making. As well, at the Regina YMCA we have implemented youth advisory committees connected to all Leadership Development Programming.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us Alex!
To learn more about the YMCA of Regina's International Development program, please visit their website!

Canada Night - Wave those Canadian flags!
Voting takes place at the World Council. (Featured: Marilyn Kapitany of Winnipeg)
The Canadian Delegation in Hong Kong

Thursday, June 24, 2010

CASA Update

One of the most dramatic programs I have come across with the Winnipeg YMCA-YWCA International Working Group are the “Casa” programs of the YMCA of Mexico.

Since 2002 the Winnipeg YMCA has been a supporter of the Casa programs. Here is a brief report on the current status of the Mexican YMCA's Homes for Migrant Youth.

The mission of the YMCA Homes for Migrant Youth is:

To contribute to the holistic development of youth along the Mexican-U.S. border in spirit, mind and body, seeking the maximum protection of their human rights, providing migrant youth with safe and secure shelter including food, clothing, health services and access to a means of communication, with the ultimate goal of reuniting them with their families.

The YMCA Homes for Migrant Youth were established in 1990 to respond to the needs of young people under the age of 18 who were repatriated to Mexico after crossing the U.S./Mexico border without proper documentation. Before the creation of the YMCA Homes, migrant youth were left by border authorities in cities along the Mexican side of the border without protection, services or shelter. The youth lived in extreme poverty and risk. Most could not find food or shelter. Many were abused by criminals involved in prostitution, drug trafficking and gang-related activities.

The YMCA of Mexico, with support of U.S. local YMCAs and Canadian YMCAs, organized a network of YMCA homes that provide vital food, shelter, counseling and reunification services to migrant youth in four cities. It is now considered a model program by the Mexican and United States governments and by a wide range of non-profit and human service organizations working along the border. The YMCA Homes have helped over 50,000 young people since 1991.

Collectively, the YMCA Homes served 3,949 youth in 2008. This number is consistent with previous years and current YMCA capacity. The YMCA Home in Tijuana served 1,935 youth, the YMCA Home in Ciudad Juarez served 536 youth, the YMCA Home in Piedras Negras served 944 youth, and the YMCA Home in Agua Prieta served 534 youth. 80.3% of the youth served by the four homes were males. 71.5% were between the ages 16 and 17, and 23.6% were age 15 or younger. The YMCA successfully reunified 79.66% of the youth with their families in Mexico.


The YMCA of Mexico has made significant progress in the Capital Campaign for the YMCA Homes for Migrant Youth. In 2008 the YMCA raised $1,509,063.12 Mexican Pesos (approx. 120,000.00 USD) for the construction of two of the YMCA Homes, Piedras Negras, Coahuila and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. The capital campaign will run until 2010.

The new model of the YMCA Homes will allow the YMCA to serve the current population of migrant youth and to reach other groups in the local community through prevention programs for local youth and families at risk. The ground breaking ceremony is planned for the fall 2009 and the construction in Piedras Negras is expected to take seven months.

To support this project, the YMCAs of Western Canada led by the YMCA – YWCA of Winnipeg created a task force that will join the efforts of the Mexican Federation of YMCAs to complete this project. The YMCA plans to mobilize resources and support from local and state governments for this project. This new YMCA Home will benefit 1,500 migrant youth as well as the local community.

For a personal perspective on the experience of day-to-day life at the Casa in Tijuana, take a look at this article from the Winnipeg YMCA-YWCA International Newsletter, Summer 2007.

Reported by Don Fraser
International Working Group Member

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Working Group member off to Mexico!

Mary Moore, South’s Children’s Program Coordinator, was selected through an application process to attend the Mano A Mano Youth Summit – Empowering the Youth of the Americas, in Tijuana, Mexico this July 19 – 31. Mano A Mano is sponsored by the YMCA’s of Canada, Mexico and the United States and will focus on global issues affecting youth and emphasize civic engagement and community development. The program will not only empower youth to be agents of change, it will create fellowship and networks among youth leaders in the Americas. Mary looks forward to this amazing opportunity and we anticipate her feedback and sharing when she returns. All of Mary’s expenses will be covered by funding through our International program.

Congratulations Mary!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hungry for Haiti

The South Youth Leaders raise almost $5000 to support the people of Haiti

In the aftermath of the massive earthquake that struck Haiti Tuesday January 12, 2010, and in light YMCA International Week (February 1st-7th), the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg Leadership Program participants decided to be a part of the YMCA movement across the world and come together to assist the YMCA of Haiti affected by the disaster.

In just days after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, an estimated one-third of Haiti's population (3 million people) were affected. The extent of the devastation slowed down aid distribution, shorting the supply of water, electricity and communication.

A little known fact is that there are actually small YMCA’s in Haiti that have been focused on helping youth and the poorest people in the country since their inception in 2001. YMCA Haiti has three program sites: Port-Au-Prince, Camp Perrin and Ste. Suzanne that were established with support from the YMCA of Montreal. The YMCA Konbit Youth Centre in Port-Au-Prince's main activities include HIV/AIDS prevention training for youth volunteers who then work in the community, leadership training, a reading club, homework help, English classes, sports and cultural dance activities and discussion groups.

Since the disaster, contact has been made with the YMCA of Haiti which has confirmed that participants and staff are safe and the main offices of the YMCA in Port-au-Prince have been destroyed. The status of the two other program sites outside of Port-au-Prince is unknown.

The South Branch Leaders and LITs thought of a creative way to stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti in a small but meaningful way. As the Leaders and LITs learned, Haiti is facing a food supply crisis in an already chaotic situation. Without access to food and other supplies, Haitians are becoming desperate and turning to violence in order to fulfill their needs and the needs of their family. Lack of proper food also results in malnutrition, which leads to many complications to the current problem; proper nutrition is required for the hard manual labour the Haitians are doing to dig through rubble; is needed to ensure proper healing of wounds and prevention of infections; and will be vital for keeping the body healthy enough to fight off diseases.

The leadership participants collected pledges for “Hungry for Haiti” and hosted a Pancake Breakfast to help raise money to aid in the relief of Haiti’s hardships. All proceeds went to YMCA Canada, who sent the money to the YMCA Haitian Relief Effort coming in from the YMCA of Dominican Republic.

Hungry for Haiti: Leaders and LITs made a stand of solidarity with Haitians by choosing to go hungry for 24 hours in return for pledges from friends and family. The youth participated in a slide show that Leaders made to raise awareness about the situation, played games based on international development and aid, and slept over in the South Branch Child Care Centre.

Pancake Breakfast: Contributors, friends and family of leadership participants, as well as YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg members were invited to join the Sleep-Over Activity Participants in a pancake breakfast prepared by Leaders on Sunday, February 7th at 10:00am, with a recommended donation of $5.00.

The Leadership Program is proud to announce that Leaders and LIT’s raised over $2420.00 of the South Branch’s total donation of $2669.28. Better yet, the government matched these donations, bringing the Leaders and LIT’s total contribution to YMCA Haiti to $4840.00! In fact, YMCA Canada President and CEO, Scott Haldane was so impressed when he heard what our youth were doing that he sent an e-mail thanking and congratulating our group for “their generous support” stating, “they have led the way for both the YMCA and Canadian youth in general”.

The “Hungry for Haiti” event was made possible thanks to our staff volunteers: Nicole Griffo, Shameel Thakrar, Janet Young, Ian McArton, Sydney McArton, Paul-Tyler Vincent as well as the South Family Child Care Centre, who allowed us to use their space. Finally, a thank you to all of the Leaders who planned presentations and lead discussions, and to all participants who raised money and went hungry to show their support.

Contributed by Mary Moore
Program Coordinator, South Branch
Member of the YMCA-YWCA International Working Group

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Update on Uruguay

The ACJ - Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes – Montevideo YMCA, marked it's 100th anniversary in 2009. Celebrations brought together the 5 Uruguay YMCA’s; Montivedeo, Salto, Paysandu, San Jose and Rivera. The Winnipeg Y has a long history of exchange with Uruguay.

Here is a quick look at the most recent report from Uruguay to the YMCA of Canada covering the period April 2008 to December 2009.

In 2008 national and local goals were set to strengthen the national movement of the YMCA’s of Uruguay. National goals focused on leadership development and advanced staff training. Local goals aimed for extensive staff training and programs for marginalized youth.

Over the period dozens of events brought relevant training to all levels of YMCA staff, as well as volunteers and leaders throughout the country. YMCA staff provided training in a wide range of governance topics, from leadership, fundraising, marketing, and operational matters, through to strategic planning, history and Mission.

At the local level, the San Jose YMCA was able to purchase land enabling the expansion of their After School Centre, allowing them to serve more youth . The After school Centre was built with the help of the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg. The Salto YMCA created a new training- for- employment program for youth in extremely vulnerable social situations.

The agenda has clearly been a tremendous success.

Seeking to learn more about the YMCA’s of Uruguay, I travelled to the website of the Montivedeo ACJ, a wonderful site, replete with photo galleries and even ACJ-TV! Watch ‘100 years of History’ or explore the many locations and wide range of programs offered. Here is the link to their website: http://www.acj-ymca.org/index.php
Contributed by Don, YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg International Working Group Member

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Relief efforts in Haiti

All of us at the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg send our best wishes to the citizens of Haiti during this period of grief and recovery.
Y's across Canada are joining the relief effort in Haiti.
YMCA Canada has already donated $5000. This donation was matched by YMCA Montreal and the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg. Y's across Canada are donating varying amounts towards the relief effort as well.
From YMCA Canada:

Thank you for your support of the World Alliance of YMCA’s appeal on behalf of the YMCA of Haiti. Your generosity is appreciated; YMCA Canada has already received a number of donations from Associations.

The YMCA Canada website has been updated to include information about the YMCA of Haiti appeal for people who would like to contribute to the recovery and rebuilding of the YMCA of Haiti. As information becomes available, we will post updates on the status of the YMCA of Haiti and on the relief efforts of the YMCA of Dominican Republic.

The website will also include:

- A link to the YMCAs of Québec Foundation webpage on Canada Helps for online donations.
- A link to the YMCAs of Québec webpage describing the work of their partner YMCA of Haiti.

- A link to the Canadian government's webpage giving the details of how the matching contribution program for individual donations will work.

Here is a response to common questions about individual contributions to the appeal as well as a brief status update.

Donations by individuals to the YMCA of Haiti Emergency Appeal (members, volunteers, and staff)

YMCA Canada is accepting contributions from individuals to this appeal. Cheques can be made out to YMCA Canada and should include the donor’s name, address and a designation to the Haiti YMCA Emergency Appeal. YMCA Canada will issue a charitable receipt.

YMCA Canada
42 Charles Street East 6th Floor
Toronto, ON   M4Y 1T4
Attn: Haiti YMCA Emergency Appeal

Individuals giving to the YMCA of Haiti Emergency Appeal will have their donation matched dollar for dollar by the government. The Canadian government has now clarified that individual donations to any registered Canadian charity that are earmarked for Haiti emergency relief between January 12 and February 12 will be matched to create the government’s Earthquake Relief Fund. This Earthquake Relief Fund will be allocated to eligible relief and humanitarian organizations. (At this time, it’s not yet clear whether the YMCA would be eligible to apply to the government’s Earthquake Relief Fund.)

As a reminder, funds raised through the YMCA of Haiti Emergency Appeal will be used to support long-term rehabilitation and recovery as well as short-term emergency relief.
Update on the YMCA of Haiti

Successful contact has been made with the YMCA of Haiti which has confirmed that participants and staff are safe and the main offices of the YMCA in Port-au-Prince have been destroyed. The status of the two other program sites outside of Port-au-Prince is unknown.

The YMCA of Dominican Republic assessment and relief mission to Haiti, which is coordinated with local relief agencies, will likely take place mid-week as the security situation stabilizes within the country.

Thanks for your continuing support.