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Community Foundation of Ottawa Spring 2014 Newsletter - Community Matters (download full newsletter)

Citizens of Ottawa attending City Council or Committee meetings will often see groups of women wearing signature peach scarves, listening attentively to decision-makers or making deputations. These are the women of Ottawa’s City for All Women Initiative (CAWI). Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, CAWI is a unique collaborative of women from diverse communities working with municipal decision-makers to create a more inclusive city and promote gender equality.


A long-time supporter of the organization’s work, a Community Foundation of Ottawa donor has provided two multi-year grants to CAwi to support their work across the city.

The first of those was the “engaging Diverse Communities through Facilitation” project in 2010- 2011, which provided facilitation training to women from diverse backgrounds, including Aboriginal, Francophone, new immigrant, seniors, women with disabilities and women living in poverty. training graduates subsequently took on leadership and mentoring roles in their communities and organizations, creating a growing network of women from diverse backgrounds sharing ideas, information and opportunities.

Through this project, 62 women graduated from a Community Engagement Facilitation training and 20 women received Advanced Community Facilitator training. By the end of the process, CAwi also developed a popular guide on inclusive facilitation, “weaving threads of inclusion,” and secured a well-deserved reputation as a valuable resource for other organizations eager to apply an equity and inclusion lens to community work. The project became a model for the City of Ottawa and other local agencies to promote civic engagement.


In 2012, CAWI received a three-year Community Foundation grant to build on the momentum created by the original project through a “Diversity of Women Facilitating Transformation” initiative. This project is designed to strengthen CAWI’s capacity to mentor more women in facilitation and ultimately create transformative change by bringing new voices and leaders to the work of building a vibrant and healthy community.

To date, 46 women have been engaged in developing and facilitating workshops on issues and emerging priorities in the community. “By deepening facilitation skills and creating opportunities for women from a diverse backgrounds to support each other in co-mentoring relationships, we hope to help create systemic change among individuals, organizations, and in the community at large,” says Suzanne Doerge, Executive Director of CAWI. “We believe that only by involving women in this inclusive and participatory way will this kind of transformative change ever take place in a meaningful way in our community.”

For more information, or to request a facilitator or a copy of CAWI’s facilitation guide, visit www.cawi-ivtf.org.