Author Archives: Leigh Aquart


Donations are now being accepted for the April 2022 Fabric & Yarn Sale. There is still a need for more storage. If you can help in the smallest way please let us know.

Contact to make donations or offer storage space.

Limited online sales will continue through Facebook Market Place. Type Ujamaa Grandmas into the website search bar and you will be directed to any product that is currently for sale on the site.

Happy Easter!

Mona Jones


Over the past year, we have been introduced to virtual meetings (often via Zoom) in ways we never imagined possible.  To support our membership in the use of Zoom and other technologies, we have put together a little document to further assist everyone’s success in using the technology. There are tips for both the person new to virtual meetings as well as for those familiar with online meetings who are seeking some additional ideas.

Click here for some tips!

If you have additional tips to share, please let us know at

Judy Hansen, Board Member


Grandmother’s groups across Canada continue to be very virtually active. Innovative fundraising ideas are sparking lots of events. The concert to mark the 15th Anniversary of the Campaign has created a buzz across the country. Groups are already sharing the concert details with members and sharing on social media. Some groups have come up with ways to support the show locally by organizing fundraising activities in support of the concert. You can view the trailer for it HERE.

To view all events happening across the Campaign, visit our events calendar and  submit your group’s event to get more eyes on it!

In several regions, groups have taken to holding collaborative events, group meetings and supporting each other’s fundraisers as a way to increase connection, solidarity, and impact. This has helped groups that have taken a more relaxed pace this year to find new ways to re-engage in the movement. Please check out this poster for information about an interesting event organised by the GUGU GOGOS. They invite us to Join them for the launch of Contemporary African Voices, a webinar series shining a light on acclaimed sub-Saharan writers. My GRL partner Judy and I are hosting a Zoom meeting for our region of South Alberta on Wednesday, April 7 at 10:00 AM. This is an opportunity for us to get together with our neighbour groups and find out what’s going on with them. We will be joined by our SLF staff coordinator Ruth-Anne who will give us all the latest news from the foundation. Please let me know if you would like to join us.

As always the popular Grandmothers’ Campaign Call will be on the third Thursday of the month. Thursday, April 15 at 10.30 MST email to RSVP.

Alison, your Grandmother’s Regional Liaison (GRL) for South Alberta


We met for the first time and had a lively discussion of This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga from Zimbabwe.

We decided our meetings would be every 6 weeks, which will give us lots of time to obtain and read the books.

The book to be discussed is titled Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin. This story  takes place in  Rwanda. The book has received several positive reviews, including this Globe and Mail review.

WHAT: Africa Book Club – “Baking Cakes In Kigali”
WHEN: Friday, May 7 at 1:30 PM.
HOW: Zoom for the foreseeable future

Please feel free to join us! It would be helpful to know in advance how many people to expect, so please RSVP to If you have any questions, send them to the same address and we will be happy to answer them.

Leslie Buckle


Join us (TORONTO GRANDMOTHERS GROUP) for the launch of Contemporary African Voices, a webinar series shining a light on acclaimed sub-Saharan writers. Please see the poster here. The series aims to amplify African voices and to educate by introducing stories deeply rooted in Africa written by Africans.  We come to know a country by reading its writers.

Travelling virtually to Nigeria via Zoom, we will welcome Dr. Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia, for the release in Canada of her debut novel, The Son of the House.  She is a human rights lawyer, academic and writer who works in Nigeria in the areas of health, gender and violence against women and children.  Pulsing with vitality and intense human drama, The Son of the House is set against four decades of life in vibrant Nigeria, celebrating the resilience of women as they navigate and transform what still remains a man’s world.

WHAT: African Voices Series – Fundraising Event
WHEN: Wednesday, May 5, 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM MST
HOW: Virtual webinar via Zoom

There is no charge for this event; however, we welcome and appreciate all donations made to the Grandmothers Campaign supporting the SLF. African grandmothers are grappling with the devastating double impact of HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.  The event poster will follow with hyperlinks for Eventbrite to register and donate.

To pre-order a copy of this wonderful novel The Son of the House, please send an E-transfer for $20 tax inclusive to Pre-orders will be available for curbside pickup in Don Mills after April 6, 2021.  The book will be released in Canada on May 4, 2021.  Orders will be accepted until June 5.


The following is an item that has been added to Monthly E-News so that the Members can “meet” and get to know the Board Members.
To hopefully put a Face to a Name that you may have seen on emails or committees.

I am happy to introduce the Members of UJAMAA GRANDMAS to Judy Hansen as our second write-up, in your April E-news.


Come explore Calgary on foot! Discover amazing hikes close to home. On our city walks we will wander through Calgary’s parks, natural environments, and historical neighbourhoods. We may view an archaeological site, an “erratic”, or a Downy Woodpecker. Calgary has a host of interesting places and things to see but there’s nothing like a walk with friends.

  • Walks will take place at 10:00 AM on Thursdays, beginning April 22, 2021. We will walk for one to one and a half hours, depending on the walk.
  • A suggested donation for each walk is a toonie which is donated to SLF and credited to our Ujamaa Grandmas group.
  • Our walks will align with Alberta Health COVID-19 recommendations: Maximum of 10 Participants including the leader.  Pre-registration is required.  Masks should be worn. Maintain social physical distancing.

Mark your calendars with the following dates and locations.

To REGISTER and receive more details, email:

Bowness and Baker Parks
Since the early 1900’s Bowness Park is one of Calgary’s most popular parks for family and friends to picnic, skate, walk, play and have fun. Baker Park includes riparian native plants, shrubs and trees, a wildflower garden, and sun bowl in the middle of the park. It is a popular place for disc-golf and wedding photos.
WHAT: Walk in Bowness and Baker Parks
WHEN: Thursday, April 22, 10:00 AM
MEET: 8900 48 Ave. NW in front of Seasons of Bowness Park restaurant
DIRECTIONS: Take the Trans Canada (16th Ave. NW). Turn right onto Bowfort Road and follow the road down the hill (it becomes 83 St. NW). Turn left at the 4 way stop onto Bowness Rd. NW. Turn left at the first set of lights onto 48 Ave NW. Follow the road to the park.
TERRAIN: 5 km, paved and gravel paths

West Nose Creek Park (Confluence Park)
West Nose Creek Park, also known as Confluence Park, lies along both banks of West Nose Creek near its confluence with Nose Creek in Calgary’s northeast. The creek meanders through multiple curves in the valley bottom. The slow and steady movement of the water produces a rich riparian zone. This park also has a considerable amount of native grassland and shrubs and a historic stone quarry. Further, the park contains “Split Rock”, one of the best known glacial erratics in the city.
WHAT: Walk in West Nose Creek Park (Confluence Park)
WHEN: Thursday, April 29, 10:00 AM
MEET: 300 Beddington Blvd. NE in the parking lot
DIRECTIONS: Corner of Beddington Trail and Beddington Blvd. NE. From northbound Deerfoot Trail, turn left on exit 265 for Beddington Trail NE. Take first right at Beddington Blvd. NE. intersection (first set of lights). Parking lot is on the right. You can see the park and dog park
almost as soon as you turn off Deerfoot Trail.
TERRAIN: 5 km, paved and gravel paths

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is a delight for the nature lover. Keep your eyes peeled for
deer, coyotes, elk, badgers, weasels and maybe, even cougars. Discover the vast scenic grassland of the park, marvel at the spectacular views of the Bow River Valley with the Canadian Rockies on the horizon and discover the park’s history, wildlife, flora and fauna.
WHAT: Walk in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
WHEN: Thursday, May 6, 10:00 AM
MEET: Glenbow Rd. off Highway 1A toward Cochrane in the parking lot
DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 1A (Crowchild Trail) towards Cochrane. Turn left at Glenbow Road and follow the road to Glenbow Ranch. There are signs on Highway 1A for the Ranch. This is about a 35 minute drive from downtown Calgary.
TERRAIN: 5 – 7 km, paved and gravel paths with hills

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Pearce Estates
The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Centre have been providing migratory birds with a place to rest their wings since 1929. That’s more than 80 years of conservation! To date, 270 species of birds, 21 species of mammals and 347 species of plants have been recorded at the Sanctuary and Nature Centre by members of the public, volunteers and staff. Pearce Estates includes manicured areas, natural environments, a reconstructed wetland that allows you to stand out over the water and the Sam Livingstone Hatchery.
WHAT: Walk in Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Pearce Estates
WHEN: Thursday, May 13, 10:00 AM
MEET: 2425 9 Ave. SE in front of the Nature Centre at the Sanctuary.
DIRECTIONS: From Deerfoot Trail take exit 254 toward Blackfoot Trail South. Merge onto 17 Ave. SE. Turn left at 19 St. SE. Turn left at 9 Ave. SE. The Sanctuary is located at the very end of 9 Ave. S.E.
TERRAIN: 7 km, paved and gravel paths

Dale Hodges Park
Dale Hodges Park, a large natural park, is the site of the former Klippert gravel pit. The City purchased the land to restore the environmental health of the area, and to address the stormwater pipes carrying untreated stormwater into the Bow River.This park showcases conscious sustainable design throughout the park and trails, along with new storm ponds and runoffs laced with prairie grass, landscaped chunks of rocks to guide shrubberies such as California Oatgrass and Junegrass around the floodplain, and beautiful steep slopes of rewilded grasslands. Keep watch for bald eagles, osprey, coyotes, red fox, white-tailed deer, porcupine, and many more.
WHAT: Walk in Dale Hodges Park
WHEN: Thursday, May 20, 10:00 AM
MEET: 2123 52 St. NW in the parking lot
DIRECTIONS: . From the Trans Canada (16 Ave. NW) turn onto Home Road. Turn left at 52 St. NW (a one-way street with a bike path on one side). The parking lot is to the right almost as soon as you turn onto 52 St. NW. It is just north of the Maranatha Christian Reformed Church.
TERRAIN: 5 -7 km, paved and gravel paths with gradual hills

Griffith Woods
Griffith Woods is habitat to a wide variety of flora and fauna including orchids, moose, deer, a variety of birds and its unique and sensitive natural spruce and balsam poplar forest. It is designated as a special protection natural environment park. Boardwalks cross the clear wetlands providing you with a great opportunity to see aquatic plants and invertebrates. The white spruce forest offers an ideal place to watch the birds and other wildlife that prefer the coniferous forest. It is one of the best places in the city to see species such as Northern Flickers, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Gray Jays that frequent this habitat.
WHAT: Walk in Griffith Woods
WHEN: Thursday, May 27, 10:00 AM
MEET: Discovery Ridge Link in the parking lot
DIRECTIONS: 2.5 km west from Sarcee Trail on Hwy 8 (Glenmore Tr). Take Highway 8 to traffic lights at 69 Street S.W. Turn left and go south on Discovery Ridge Boulevard. Go halfway around traffic circle, down the hill and turn left onto Discovery Ridge Link. (Please note there are no longer any directional signs on the road or at the entrance.)
TERRAIN: 5 km, paved and gravel paths




UJAMAA GRANDMAS invites you to a virtual concert fundraiser. Proceeds to benefit African grandmothers. An organization of Calgary grandmothers is inviting residents to attend, virtually, a free concert to support their African counterparts.

  • The ‘Together in Concert: In Solidarity with African Grandmothers’ is to be held April 15, starting at 5:30 PM MST.
  • The 90-minute virtual event will feature music, dance, storytelling and drumming from artists across Canada.
  • A video of the concert will be available for 72 hours after it starts.

While the event is free, participants are encouraged to make a donation to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF).
The SLF is a non-governmental organization that supports community-based organizations working on the frontline of the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Its Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign started in 2006 in response to the crisis faced by African grandmothers as they struggled to raise millions of children orphaned by HIV and AIDS. With COVID-19, they are now facing two pandemics.
UJAMAA GRANDMAS is celebrating 15 years as a long-time supporter of the Foundation and is encouraging you to join the virtual event. See the poster HERE.

WHAT: Together in Concert
WHEN: Thursday, April 15, 5:30 PM MST
HOW: Virtual event – Registration is required



Good morning, everyone,

I just opened and read our monthly March E-news and am sitting here with awe and respect for all the members of UJAMAA GRANDMAS.  Our voice is strong, our resilience in this time of Covid amazing, the necessary inventiveness of changing to make things work now is a reflection of strong, intelligent, caring and creative women.  And, best of all, doing it all together/apart!

Thank you also for the reminders of our mission, goals and values.  All that has happened in this past year reflects on each and every one.

So, thank you all.  It is an honour to be part of UJAMAA GRANDMAS.

Sincerely, Carla Lorfing


IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE 👏🎉💐 !!!  I am delighted to announce that Ellen Monaghan and Leslie Buckle, founders of UJAMAA GRANDMAS, will be the recipients of the Soroptimist Calgary Dreams “Making a Difference for Women Award” on April 18th. This award honours women who have made extraordinary differences in, and improved the lives of, women and girls.

Inspired by Stephen Lewis and his vision for the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF), long-time friends Ellen and Leslie began making bags and purses, selling them at a local market and donating the profits to the fledgling SLF in 2004/2005.   With their passion to support the African Grandmothers, their persuasive powers soon attracted others to join them and now we have close to 500 members.  We continue to raise funds through creative events and activities, and to date, we have raised $1.5 million for African grassroots groups.  We also raise awareness of the issues faced by African women through education, by speaking to community groups and visiting schools.  We definitely thank both Ellen and Leslie for the implementation of their many ideas over the years!

Our lives have improved too!  Many of us have developed deep, rich friendships working together towards Ellen and Leslie’s goal. We have developed and expanded skills and confidence in different areas including handcrafts, public speaking, governance, marketing and technology.

Ellen and Leslie have remained faithful to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign pledge, “We will not rest until they can rest”.  We thank both of them for their vision and leadership. Congratulations, Ellen and Leslie!

Please feel free to share the link with friends or family to help celebrate Ellen and Leslie as well – they will need to register to reserve a free ticket!


“You don’t know what someone is going through, be kind ~ always.” That is a sentiment worth remembering on a daily basis. Recognizing that those around us may have limitations because they are dealing with a difficult situation that we cannot identify, yet needs to be honoured, is in keeping with everything UJAMAA GRANDMAS stands for. Being mindful of the fact that others can be fighting a battle that you are completely unaware of is a great strength. Some of our members are struggling with their health, or an injury, or supporting a family member going through treatment for a health crisis. Others are dealing with loss, possibly brought on by the pandemic. And there are those that simply find the restrictions put in place around Covid 19 extremely difficult. The reality is we all have times in our journey that challenge us.

One of the greatest strengths of UJAMAA GRANDMAS is: ‘we do what we can, when we can’. What a welcoming and embracing mantra! That mindset has acted as a form of support to all of us at different times as we have dealt with life’s challenges. May we continue to shed light on each other to ease a burden, may we continue to be patient and understanding with each other when working together, and of course, when we have a choice, and we always have a choice, may we do what we so often do, may we lead with kindness.


Looking Back, Looking Forward: Celebrating Fifteen Years of the SLF’s Grandmothers Campaign

The Board would like to celebrate this anniversary by producing a virtual exhibition of art, photography, poetry and prose. We will invite submissions that speak to what members’ involvement in UJAMAA GRANDMAS is, and thus what the Grandmothers Campaign, has meant to them.  It could be a poem about meeting one of the African grandmothers; a photograph of a special handcraft sold in one of the sales; a piece of artwork inspired by a story about the work of the SLF in Africa.  We hope the submissions will tell our story in diverse, colourful, entertaining, and meaningful ways.

To put this all together, we need a small organizing committee, and some specialized expertise (such as web design). If you are interested in being part of this initiative in some way, whether on the committee or as a consultant in particular aspects of the project, please respond to We are happy to explore with you how you could become involved in a way that suits you and helps us with this project!

Sincerely, Leslie Buckle


2020 FINANCIAL RESULTS – from the Treasurer
UJAMAA GRANDMAS Calgary had a very successful year. I applaud your initiative, creativity and hard work to overcome the Covid-19 restrictions.

Annual Gross Revenue from fundraising activities $50,739 (pre-year end review):

Fabric & Yarn Sale $ 4,518
Handcrafts $25,105
Décor Fabric Sale $ 6,711
Bagettes $10,700
10,000 Villages $ 391
All others $ 150
Donations (all sources) $ 3,164

Annual Gross Expenses  $9,740

Finally, I want to pass on an excerpt from an email I received from SLF:

“For 2020 Ujamaa raised an impressive $79,081.92. This brings the group total to $1,544,840.67. In 2020 we received $35,000 directly from the Ujamaa bank account, so the remainder is funds raised online that were credited to Ujamaa, either through Grandmothers campaign pledge pages or our general website, or cheques received in the mail from donors indicating Ujamaa.”

Congratulations to everyone!



Feedback from viewers of Paying Tribute to the Grannies of Soweto by Bianca Marais:

  • “What an incredibly powerful evening. Bianca is an amazing woman”;
  • “Very professional”
  • “What a great speaker. Now I want to read her books”.
  • “I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Bianca’s talk last night.”

The presentation is so pertinent to the work that we do as UJAMAA GRANDMAS and we highly recommend viewing this impactful recording.

For those of you who were not able to view the presentation on February 24th and for those who would like to share the opportunity with friends and family, the link is HERE.

Thank you to all who attended the presentation Paying Tribute to the Grannies of Soweto by Bianca Marais.  Bianca is an inspiring speaker who shared her story of growing up in apartheid South Africa as a privileged white child nurtured by her African “maid”.  Bianca has spent her life questioning and grappling with conflicting emotions about privilege, growing up as a white girl under the apartheid regime in South Africa, and the oppression towards Black people that she was witness to. Her story is one of an early awakening to systemic abuse and prejudice and challenging it—even when it was unpopular, even when she benefited from it. Bianca shared how she watched the devastation of HIV and AIDS in her country and especially how the black population was impacted. Bianca was a volunteer for ten years with a Stephen Lewis Foundation partner in Cotlands and is an avid supporter of the work of the Foundation.

Thank you to Judy Hanson, Sandra Burgess and Frances Teves who worked with The Education and Awareness Committee to coordinate the many details that went into the organizing of this event. Thank you to Jan Geggie, President of UJAMAA GRANDMAS for her opening and closing remarks. A big thank you to Sarah Layton, Office and Logistics Manager, Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Bianca’s books Hum if You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh can be ordered from Owl’s Nest Bookstore.

Bianca’s presentation is free but donations are encouraged to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Donate to the Stephen Lewis Foundation HERE.

Education and Awareness Committee:  Anne Taylor and Susan Plesuk


The gross income from 2021 Yarn & Fabric Public Market Sale was $17,500. Special thanks to Rachel Bryant, Carol Spring and Frances Teves for the extensive online component this sale required.

  • Expect to see Eventbrite customer registration entry used in future Fabric & Yarn Sales.
  • After two long years the storage homes are empty and I cannot thank everyone enough for your help.
  • Any more donations will be declined until April 1, 2021 when the Province of Alberta COVID-19 vaccination roll out enters its second quarter.
  • Two of the larger storage homes can no longer participate, so if you can offer any amount of area, it would be greatly appreciated.
  • The Magic of Christmas also extends it thanks.
  • UJAMAA GRANDMAS donated enough fabric and notions from the sale to supply its costume department for its Christmas 2021 campaign.

Proposed 2022 Annual Fabric & Yarn Sale at The Magic of Christmas Apr. 19, 20, 21 (setup days), 22, 23, 24 (sale days), 25 (clean up)

Easter Sunday is Apr. 17, 2022.
Please direct any questions to

Great Job!
Mona Jones



  • Members could do a Show & Tell at the Monthly Zoom Meetings of what they are making. It would be fun for everyone to see what is going on and might inspire others.
  • Looking for a Member who might like to provide a ‘Facebook Tutorial’ for members who could use a little guidance in that area. If anyone would be willing to do that, please contact
  • We are looking for people interested in being on the Nominating Committee to find Members to serve as Board Members next year.  Yvonne Way and Louise Breadner are currently on this committee. If interested, please contact and your email will be forwarded to them.

Check the E-News each month for the Zoom link. 

Wednesdays/Date Time Main Facilitator C0-Facilitator
January 20, 2021 7:30 PM Annette Koelwyn Yvonne Way
February 17, 2021 10:00 AM Leslie Buckle Judy Hansen
March 17, 2021 1:00 PM Yvonne Way Annette Koelwyn
April 21, 2021 7:30 PM Judy Hansen Jan Geggie
May 19, 2021 10:00 AM Liz Forseth Janice Lambert
June 16, 2021 1:00 PM Leslie Buckle Liz Forseth
July 21, 2021 7:30 PM


Thanks to Zoom, BAGETTES met twice a month during 2020.  We encouraged one another with show and tell, tips and tricks, pattern testing and challenges. We also shared via our Facebook group.  In the summer, we were able to meet safely outside twice to share supplies and see things in the flesh. This ability to work together and connect on a regular basis made a significant impact on our emotional well-being during a difficult year.  We plan to carry on and we are currently working on two new patterns for 2021 release. We have begun a series of bags recognizing our grandmothers. There are two so far; a French grand-mère, RYLEY and an Icelandic grandmother, AMMA. It seems we are diverse and there is more to come.
An ART TOTE challenge using our wine tote pattern resulted in the completion of 10 unique, art-inspired, wine totes. These totes were featured in an online auction in July and resulted in proceeds of $1167.70.  We felt that the items that went to BB&B were our best yet and despite the difficult times, many bags and pouches were sold. 
With so many bag makers at home, 2020 was a great year for the BAGETTES’ pattern store on Etsy.
A few milestones were met and passed that allowed us to raise a cheer.
  • Four new patterns were released in 2020 and reception to those patterns was very exciting thanks to some help from our strongest supporter, Emmaline Bags of Spruce Grove, Alberta. When Janelle puts BAGETTES in her newsletter that goes to 25,000 bag makers, visits to our shop and sales sky rocket.
  • As of this writing, 1350 copies of our patterns were sold in 2020 – 53% of those sales were from our new patterns.
  • Revenue for 2020 passed the $10,000 mark in early December and continues to climb. This revenue is gross – does not take into account cost of supplies, fees, or taxes.
  • The first Etsy sale was on December 31, 2019. Since then, more than 1620 patterns have sold in the shop. This includes 42 copies of Backpack Bundle which is 3 patterns but is counted as one sale in the count. 
  • More than 400 shoppers have favourited our shop.  This affects the search dynamics sending more shoppers to our store. 
  • Ratings of our patterns remain five-star with almost 70 reviews.
  • We rebranded with a new banner and logo thanks to the support of Vancouver Island artist Anvil Island Design. In January we plan to do a formal launch of this new brand with a virtual party – aka sale.
If you have UJAMAA friends who share a common handmade endeavour, we strongly encourage you to try this form of meeting and sharing. Your group need not be formal. No one needs to be in charge other than to schedule and book the zoom nor does there need to be any high degree of organizing. Just get together virtually to work on your chosen interest, share ideas and patterns, chat, connect. You might be surprised at what may happen.


A couple of months ago we asked you to participate in a survey regarding our E-News. We had a very encouraging number of responses and were pleased that overall the readers are anywhere from ‘satisfied’ to ‘very happy’ with the way the E-News is being currently issued. Thank you so much to all of you who participated. Our continued aim is to put together an E-News that you look forward to reading and find informative. We continue to welcome your suggestions.