Author Archives: Leigh Aquart


It’s that time of year again! We’ve been offered the opportunity to distribute robes at the SAIT Spring Convocation for an honorarium. It’s a very worthwhile event.
This year the dates are June 11 – 13 with one shift on June 11, two on June 12 and one on June 13 for a total of four shifts. Each shift is about 5 hours with a break between handing out the robes and collecting them at the end of the event. Ten volunteers and two backups are required for each of the four shifts.

This is a great opportunity to both raise funds and to socialize and meet other UJAMAA GRANDMAS.

* Busy times will be near the beginning and end of each shift while robes are being distributed and collected.
* During the 2+ hour ceremonies, volunteers should be able to leave for a coffee or a meal on campus or nearby.
* Expect lots of walking and some light lifting.
* Wear neat casual clothing and comfortable walking shoes.
* Bring reading glasses if you require them as each gown is labelled for a particular graduate.

WHAT: SAIT Spring 2019 Convocation Fundraiser
WHEN: Tuesday June 11, Wednesday June 12, Thursday June 13
WHERE: SAIT, 1301 16 Ave NW, Calgary, Symposium Room, V202, Campus Centre


Thanks for volunteering. We can’t do it without you.


To be honest, when the steering committee started to plan the 2019 Fabric & Yarn Sale in January I wasn’t sure another $50k production was possible but you did it.

Be proud of the work you did and the difference you made because your contribution absolutely matters.

My sincere appreciation for all your hard work.


COOPERATION has been so apparent in our Ujamaa Grandmas organization in the many events and activities in which we’ve participated over the years.   Last week, as we prepared for the Fabric and Yarn Sale, this quality was resounding!  Thank you to Mona Jones, Chair, and her Fabric and Yarn Steering Committee, and all who donated fabric and yarns, stored these in your homes for an extended time and pre-sorted there, transported same to Woodcliff United Church, pre-sorted again, constructed temporary shelves from boxes, arranged tens of thousands of fabrics, yarns, notions, books and patterns and more .  Thank you also to those who helped our hundreds of customers while they waited in line, and then those who helped them find just what they needed (or in some cases, didn’t need, but were delighted).  The Sales Financial committee and team of cashiers processed the hundreds of customers, each day, smoothly and efficiently.

Over the past year, I have appreciated the level of cooperation within your Board of Directors – collaboration and participation in Board business has enabled us to adapt to the growing number of members and the need for a bit more organizational structure.   We’ve established a new accounting system, and developed a Ujamaa Grandma budget for the first time.  Committee Chairs were very engaged in beginning to develop their own committee budgets, so I thank each of them heartily.

We thank those Board members who have served on the Board and are now ‘retiring’ – Alison Longson (Past President), Lorraine Campbell (Vice President) and Marilyn Simmons (Member at Large).  You will have received the Ujamaa Grandmas Annual Report a couple of days ago, along with the agenda of the Annual General Meeting.  I encourage you to make time to read these reports – again you will realize the stellar level of cooperation that has occurred in diverse ways – and how much has been accomplished through planning, organizing and celebrating events!  The Notice of the Annual General Meeting was e-mailed to you on April 20th, but in case you missed it, here’s the following information you’ll need.
Sunday May 5th at 2:00pm
Crump Room at Christ Church, Elbow Park
3602 – 8th Street SW, Calgary

I sincerely welcome you to attend the AGM.  Our guest speaker, Eveline Goodall, will present “A Celebration of Women:  My work in Rwanda”.  Her presentation will help us understand what our African sisters/grandmothers (and others) are similarly accomplishing too.

Refreshments will be served and we’ll have time to socialize.

We celebrate the approximately 550 members of Ujamaa Grandmas!

Cooperation, collaboration and participation – thank you all for all of that!



MAY SEW ALONG will focus on some smaller projects with different kits and supplies for people to choose.
The main new idea will be Veggie Bags. These are made from polyester mesh with cord ties and can be used in place of the many plastic bags that we use in the produce section of the grocery store. Other project kits depend on what fabric is available from the fabric sale. They may include toiletry wraps and simple toiletry bags. Projects using upholstery samples will also be offered.
An email will be sent out on May 15 with a list of supplies and things to bring. Generally, it is just normal sewing supplies and a sewing machine in good working condition.

WHAT: SEW ALONG with Elaine, Rose and Dawn
WHEN: Wednesday, May 22 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
WHERE: Along Came Quilting, 6432 1A St SW (right behind the Home Depot on the east side of MacLeod Trail South – just north of Glenmore Trail.


If you have any questions, please email


It is Southern Alberta’s turn to host the Fall Regional Gathering if we want one this year. Some groups thought every other year would be adequate.

We have sent the request for hosts out to all Southern Alberta Groups, suggesting they may want to join forces with another group or groups to do this.

We need to make this decision soon.

The Aeroplan Mile matching week in February raised 2.1 million miles. Congratulations! Of course, you can donate miles at any time.

The GRL annual meeting was in Toronto in February and we are including a few items you should be aware of:

  1. A reminder that there are Conference Calls for new members or anyone who is interested or has questions on the 3rd Monday of the month at 10:30 a.m. MT. (Unless that Monday is a statutory holiday). These are information-sharing sessions to give new members an opportunity to speak directly with SLF Grandmothers Campaign staff. Those wishing to participate should RSVP to: and they will be provided with the conference call phone number and dial-in details. Calls generally last about 1 hr.
  2. Also, it is now possible to have Regional Conference Calls using the SLF Conference Call Line so keep this in mind if you ever what to plan events with other groups.
  3. The Grandmothers Campaign Team is proposing to start hosting Thematic Campaign-wide Conference Calls on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 10:30 AM starting in April. These calls will be open to all members and groups as a way to share ideas, best practices, tips and tricks that groups are using successfully. The first two sessions proposed are April 18 which would address “Recruiting and Retaining” and May 16th: “Rejuvenating Members: The Fun, Social and Educational Components of Groups and the Relationships Created Within Groups”.

Do you think these would be helpful to you? The staff would welcome your ideas and thoughts.

Additional themes could include but are not limited to:

  • Recruiting and engaging younger women to join group.
  • Building community partnerships
  • Sponsorship and Grants Start
  • Leadership structures within groups
  • Using technology: websites, FB and online resources that groups use

Of course, attracting new and younger members and retaining present members is a universal issue which was a big topic at the Toronto Gathering. There will be a compilation of suggestions and ideas related to this topic available on the SLF Campaign website at some point. There will also be an additional Conference Call toward the end of May for treasurers and group chairs framed as a “Treasurers Corner and Financial FAQ”.

Added to the SLF Fundraising page, there is a special section with fundraising suggestions for the “small but mighty” groups which could also be used by larger groups. On our Facebook page please tag your posts with @SLFGrandmothers for wider distribution and please “Like” another groups’ posts if you see that is also helpful to the Campaign.

Alison and Marilyn


Our Board of Directors extends an invitation to members to attend our Board meetings. We are grateful to the Marda Loop ATB at 2140 34th Avenue SW  for the spacious room which they have provided.  Public parking is free within a block; note the times of parking on the street.  Please let us know if you’d like to attend, through We look forward to hearing from you.

WHAT: Ujamaa Grandmas Board Meeting
Saturday, January 5, 2019 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Thursday, January 31, 2019 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Thursday, March 23, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, April 18, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, May 16, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Saturday, June 15, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, July 11, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, August 8, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Saturday, September 7, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, October 3, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, October 31, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Saturday, November 30, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
WHERE: Marda Loop ATB at 2140 34th Avenue SW


Reminder: Members from the Speakers Bureau are available for presentations to other groups you are involved with. Email

This month the Speakers Bureau highlights books about Africa and the challenges for African children impacted by HIV/AIDs. The four books listed below are all available at the Calgary Public Library.

A. One Hen: How one small loan made a big difference – Katie Smith Milway
This is the story of Kojo, a boy from Ghana who turns a small loan into a thriving farm and a livelihood for many. After his father died, Kojo had to quit school to help his mother collect firewood to sell at the market. When his mother receives a loan from some village families, she gives a little money to her son. With this tiny loan, Kojo buys a hen. A year later, Kojo has built up a flock of 25 hens. With his earnings Kojo is able to return to school. Soon Kojo’s farm grows to become the largest in the region. (Elementary school aged children)

B. The Heaven Shop – Deborah Ellis
The Heaven Shop is a novel that puts a very real face on the African AIDS pandemic, which has orphaned more than 11 million African children. Inspired by a young radio performer the author met during her research visit to Malawi, Binti Phiri is a compelling character that readers will never forget. (Ages 7-9)

C. Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk about AIDs- Deborah Ellis
This is a collection of children’s stories dealing with poverty, loss as well as their new lives and hopes for the future. In the summer of 2003, Deborah Ellis traveled to Malawi and Zambia and met with children and teens whose lives have been touched by AIDS. In short, autobiographical vignettes, the young people, many of whom are orphans or living on the street, discuss their families, their favorite pastimes, their fears, and their dreams. (Grade 6 and up)

D. We are all the Same: The story of a boy’s courage and a mother’s love – James Wooten
This is the story of a courageous South African boy’s fettle with AIDs but also focuses on the failure of South African leaders to confront the AIDs epidemic in their country. ABC senior news correspondent Wooten tells the story of the bond between Nkosi and his birth mother, Daphne, who gave him up for the sake of his health and who subsequently succumbed to AIDS, and his white adoptive mother, Gail, who made his illness her number one priority. (16 and older)


Serving on the board is a great way to get involved with Ujamaa Grandmas. You can play an important role in shaping role in shaping the future of our group.
We are looking for several enthusiastic members to replace directors that are retiring.
The position of Vice President is open as well as 2 members at large.
Someone with a communications background would be greatly appreciated.
The board usually meets once a month for approximately 2 hours.
If you would like more information please send an email to
Your name will be passed along to the nominating committee who can give you more information on positions.  If you know of someone who would make a great candidate, consider asking their permission to pass their name along so that we can be in touch with them.


Ujamaa Grandmas had a fantastic year (despite the loss of BB&B funds). The first quarter was all about preparation for the Fabric & Yarn Sale in April. And what a sale it was! As a new UG member, I was in awe of what you ladies accomplished. Your hard work, organization and attention to detail resulted in record-breaking sales of over $52,000 plus more than $1300 in donations!

The BB&B sale was equally impressive to a newbie like me; it was beautifully organized, and the unique and gorgeous items our members donated for sale were outstanding! The sale generated almost $45,000 plus an additional $2600 in donations. Sadly, $9600 was not processed. But our members and customers really came through for us and about $6700 of that was returned to UG in the form of payments and donations.

Other notable revenue generating ventures taken on by our Committees and members:
• Bag-ettes’ pattern sales: $2900
• Bake Sale: $2000
• SAIT Convocation: $2800
• Blues Festival: $2200

In the end, Ujamaa Grandmas generated in excess of $115,000 in 2018 – an amazing achievement! In turn, this allowed us to donate to SLF over $95,000! Grandmas Rock!