Author Archives: SPIDER WOMAN


We are excited to announce that the 2023 BAGS, BABIES & BEYOND will be held on 
Friday October 27 from 1:00 to 7:00 pm and on Saturday October 28th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
It will be held at the Marda Loop Communities Association Centre.
Tickets for Friday will be available on Eventbrite for $2 starting October 1st at 8:00am.
Saturday will be drop in.
Please find both the full sized and purse posters attached for details.
Please send them to your friends and family by email or print copies and distribute them in person.
Preprinted copies will be available for pick up at the next two Gatherings.
Drop Off Days – The final two days to drop off your amazing creations for our sale will be as follows:
  • Monthly Gathering on September 21st 1:30 – 3:30 pm. Woodcliff United Church. Please arrive at the start of the gathering for drop off
  • Saturday Drop off September 30th Noon to 2:00 pm. Parking Lot at Marda Loop Communities Association
Sneak Peek will begin soon on Instagram and Facebook so keep watching social media for all the exciting products we will be selling.
Volunteer and Silent Auction Information will be available in the October newsletter.
Help Needed.  We are looking for a Volunteer to become part of the Custodian Team for Accessories – Necks.
The person would need to have storage space in their home for the product and be available to help at the event.
This group primarily looks after the scarves and cowls that are knitted for our sale.
Contact us at with any questions you may have.

Things Fall Apart

BOOK CLUB September 2023 Selection
Page 1

 Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, was written in 1958 and is considered a classic in African literature and has inspired many African authors of today.
THINGS FALL APART tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria.
The first  storiy traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.
The second story is as modern as the first is ancient, and elevates the book to a tragic plane,
 These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

Sew Days are Back !!

Thank you to Linda at Along Came Quilting.
Sew Days are now booked for the second Wednesday of the month from September 2023 to June 2024.  Along Came Quilting opens at 10:00 AM and we need to finish up by 4:00 PM.

The format and focus will be a bit different from previous years as we work together to create products for the BB&B Sale.
The first meeting will be on Wednesday Sept 13 at 10:00 am. We will be completing a small project and discussing ideas for future Sew Days.

Space and numbers are very limited.
If you are interested in attending please send an email to

FABRIC & YARN SALE Committee Update

Mona Jones has coordinated and kept the F&Y Sale running successfully for many years.  As eventually happens with all of us, we discover that other areas of interest need our help.  We will miss Mona and her wealth of knowledge about how to run a sale.  Whatever the question or need, she always had an answer.  Mona had a full-page list of jobs in many areas where we now need other people to step in and help.

Please consider any of the tasks listed below where you might be able to help.  Contact the Fabric & Yarn Steering Committee if you have other areas where you can offer assistance.
Please direct any questions to

Communications Lead: This position has transitioned from Phyllis McCord to Janice Lambert.
Works with donors by directing them to the most convenient storage home drop off location throughout the year.
This is a year-round position.

Secretary: This is a new position.
Records discussions, deliberations and decisions carried out at the Fabric & Yarn Steering Committee meetings. Writes the submission to the monthly newsletter. This position requires reasonable writing skills. It is a relatively quiet position throughout the year with the most time spent between February and May when the Committee is most active.

Public Drop Off Day(s) Lead: This is a new position.
Creates and manages a system for public donations at the sale venue. Will coordinate a roster of volunteers throughout the drop off days. Is responsible for organizing how donor vehicles arrive and depart, and how to move donations from donor vehicles to the sorting area. Will work with the HSE coordinator when necessary.
This position requires time for planning and setting up before and during the sale and is quiet during the rest of the year.

Health and Safety Coordinator: This is a new position.
Recruits one or more certified Emergency Basic First Aid / Basic First Aid providers to work at the Sale venue and secures safety equipment (pylons, ramps, caution tape, etc.) to make the facility as safe as possible for everyone. Coordinates with the facility and committee to address any HSE issues. This position is busy during the sort and sale days and relatively quiet the rest of the year. Requires knowledge of provincial Health and Safety regulations but does not require certification.

Storage Volunteer: Storage volunteers are badly needed again this year, as the volume of donations increases. To be a storage volunteer, you only need to have some space in your home or (secure) garage that will allow boxes and bags of fabric, yarns and notions to be stored until April. Our volunteers have spaces that range from a closet to a corner of the basement to half a garage. The Communications Lead will give the donor your contact information – usually email – and you will arrange with the donor a time to drop off their donation. We have arrangements for everything to be picked up before the sale so there is no need on your part to carry or move anything. The pre-sort group may come over once or twice during the year to sort and consolidate the donations. While this process happens year-round, you can block off times when you are not available.

The descriptions of the new positions are bare-boned as they will evolve with time and the personality of the volunteers. If you have questions, thoughts or feedback, or if you would like to contribute to one of these areas without “being in charge”, please get in touch!

Please mark your calendars!
The proposed dates for the 2024 sort and sale are Apr 27, 2024 through May 6, 2024.

Thank you, Phyllis McCord

Education Committee ~ SEPTEMBER Report

Stories from the field at projects in Africa
The value of a long-term commitment to ending AIDS
“All of us love our jobs. It’s a really phenomenal role to be playing.” – Jenny Parsley

For two decades, Jenny Parsley has had a front-row seat to the impact of the HIV pandemic in Africa, and the life-changing, community-led response to it. As one of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s seven field representatives, Jenny regularly travels from her home in Cape Town, South Africa, to the SLF’s partner organizations in countries across sub-Saharan Africa, acting as a liaison between Canadian staff and the work on the ground.

The SLF’s talented and committed field representatives, all activists in their own right, play a vital role in monitoring the progress and effectiveness of the organizations the SLF supports. It’s a relationship built on trust, respect, and mutual learning, says Jenny, whose training is in human rights. The SLF’s anticolonial approach to partnership is founded on the belief that communities are best equipped to provide the programs and services they need to overcome the HIV pandemic.

SLF field representatives act as mentors, consultants, and at times, cheerleaders, offering encouragement to local leaders working in challenging contexts. “We have journeyed with them through so many trying and celebratory times, and that has really been a central part of the role,” says Jenny.

For Ruth Ochieng, who brings 28 years of activism in her native Uganda to her role as a field representative, the SLF’s model is uniquely effective and sustainable. “The Stephen Lewis Foundation believes that every person has power within. And you can only use power within you to transform your life,” says Ruth. “I wish every development partner believed and trusted that these [people] know what to do.”

Unlike other international donors who might provide funds only to impose unrealistic deadlines, and end a project, the SLF “journeys with you,” says Ruth. Consistent, long-term support allows communities to innovate, she explains; innovation breeds sustainability, and with sustainability, organizations can adapt to the changing pandemic.

Jenny agrees the SLF’s commitment to long-term relationships with communities is the key to success. “When you fund for three or four or five years, it’s an absolute drop in the ocean in terms of issues that may be almost intergenerational,” adding it takes time to shift the structural underpinnings of why HIV can still take root in communities. “The long-term commitment of the Foundation is a really meaningful part of the response, and the partners really value that,” she says.

For field representative Winnie Sseruma, a longtime activist based in the U.K. who has also been living with HIV for 34 years, the SLF’s long-term support of others living positively is particularly meaningful. People deal with an HIV diagnosis very differently, says Winnie, and self-acceptance, disclosure to friends and family, and learning to live with the disease require time and patience.

“If you stop the funding, what’s going to happen to the lives of these people?” she asks. “It’s almost a life-long commitment, to be able to help individuals to transform their lives, to get where they need to go, to support not only themselves but other family members who are also impacted by HIV.”

Winnie stresses that despite the success of the SLF’s partnerships with hundreds of organizations in its 20-year history, there are always more people who need support. Many people still cannot access testing and treatment, or struggle to overcome the stigma imposed on them once diagnosed. Others are in denial about their status, and some people only remember what they learned about HIV 40 years ago. This work to end the pandemic requires a sustained effort, says Winnie, who’s made it her mission to speak openly about her diagnosis and teach others that, like her, they “are able to live near-normal lives.”

Toufah: The Woman who Inspired an African #MeToo Movement

BOOK CLUB July 2023 Selection
An incandescent and inspiring memoir from a courageous young woman who, after she was forced to flee to Canada from her home in The Gambia, became the first woman to publicly call the country’s dictator to account for sexual assault—launching an unprecedented protest movement in West Africa.
Join us to share this powerful story. Toufah: The Woman who Inspired an African #MeToo Movement by Toufah Jallow with Kim Pittaway.


BOOK CLUB May 2023 Selection

Glory is a new book from NoViolet Bulawayo, the award-winning author of the Booker-prize finalist We Need New Names.
NoViolet Bulawayo’s bold new novel follows the fall of the Old Horse, the long-serving leader of a fictional country, and the drama that follows for a rumbustious nation of animals on the path to true liberation.

Powered By Love

BOOK CLUB April 2023 Selection

Powered by Love is  the book written for the Stephen Lewis Foundation by Joanna Henry and Ilana Landsberg-Lewis. Many of us have this book but we thought it would be interesting to read it from cover to cover (instead of using it as a reference) and talk about it together.

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

BOOK CLUB February 2023 Selection

On February 24, we will be discussing the novel “How Beautiful We Were” by Cameroonian-American author Imbolo Mbue.

This book is about a fictional African village that is suffering from pollution and environmental degradation caused by an American oil company, and how they decided to fight back. We have also read Mbue’s previous novel, Behold the Dreamers, and loved it.

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

BOOK CLUB January 2023 Selection

This month we will be  discussing Unbowed,  a memoir by Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental and social justice work.

We are looking forward to what promises to be an inspirational life story.

This is a remarkable memoir of courage, faith, and the power of persistence; about one woman’s extraodinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage. “[Maathai’s] story provides uplifting proof of the power of perseverance–and of the power of principled, passionate people to change their countries and inspire the world.”

Behold the Dreamers 

BOOK CLUB November 2022 Selection

 Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue tells the  tale of a young couple from Cameroon who come to the US in search of a better life.Their precarious legal status makes their lives very difficult. Interestingly, the author portrays the struggles of their wealthy employer at the time of the 2008 stock market crash as well, and  in an empathetic manner. It’s a novel that’s hard to put down, so you would still have time to read it by November 11 if you’d like to join us! New members are always welcome. Just write to message@ujamaagrandmas.doc and we’ll send you the Zoom link.

Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey

BOOK CLUB September 2022 Selection

Kwei Quartey is a Ghanaian author of detective fiction who has written a couple of series featuring two different detectives. We thought this might be a nice change from the ‘heavier’ books we have been reading, good and important as they are.










The first book will likely be a quick read and so we will also read Alexandra Fuller’s “Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness”, a beautifully written memoir by a white author who grew up in Africa.

New members are always welcome. If you are interested, write to – attention Book Club

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo of Zimbabwe

BOOK CLUB July 2022 Selection

The main character of the novel is Darling, a 10-year old girl who at the beginning of the story hangs around with her gang of friends in a shanty town called Paradise. Later she goes to live with an aunt in Detroit, Michigan, and comes face to face with the reality of America, about which she had only dreamed. In a review from NPR in 2013, Ellah Allfrey writes, “In Bulawayo’s steady hands, what could be a tale of woe becomes a story of resilience.” We look forward to reading this novel and continuing our journey towards better understanding African people, their challenges and their strengths.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adich

BOOK CLUB May 2022 Selection.

The novel takes place in Nigeria prior to and during the Nigerian Civil War (1967–70). It follows five main characters, including the twin daughters of an influential businessman, a professor, a British expat, and a Nigerian houseboy. After Biafra’s declaration of secession, the lives of the main characters drastically change and are torn apart by the brutality of the civil war and decisions in their personal lives.

The book was published in 2006 and has been on many “best books” lists.

The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia

BOOK CLUB April 22 Selection.

This novel was long-listed for the 2021 Giller Prize, as the author, originally from Nigeria, is now a Canadian.

The story is a tale of two women from different circumstances who become friends, and then are thrown together during a kidnapping, during which they tell each other their life stories.  The book is a quick read and is a fascinating account of culture and traditions in Nigeria, particularly as they affect the lives of women.


Sthembile Ndlovu, director at Izimbali Zesizwe, South Africa

“It’s so amazing, because the big organizations cannot reach the local level, but we are here and we are with the community.  We are hands on.  Even during Covid lockdown, we can carry on supporting the community.  Thank you for understanding us.  Without your method of support, this community would be suffering a lot.” – Sthembile Ndlovu, director at Izimbali Zesizwe, and SLF partner in South Africa

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

This is a historical novel about women soldiers in Ethiopia during the 1935 Italian invasion.  The book is a gorgeously crafted and unputdownable exploration of female power, with Hirut as the fierce, original, and brilliant voice at its heart. In incandescent, lyrical prose, Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line, shaping a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war.

No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu

The establishment of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a pioneering international event. Never had any country sought to move forward from despotism to democracy both by exposing the atrocities committed in the past and achieving reconciliation with its former oppressors. At the center of this unprecedented attempt at healing a nation has been Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In this book, Archbishop Tutu offers his reflections on this painful experience.

In No Future Without Forgiveness, Tutu argues that true reconciliation cannot be achieved by denying the past. But nor is it easy to reconcile when a nation “looks the beast in the eye.” In this book, he recognizes the horrors people can inflict upon one another, and yet retains a sense of idealism about reconciliation, showing readers how to move forward with honesty and compassion to build a newer and more humane world.

Stay With Me by Nigerian author Ayobami Adebayo

BOOK CLUB October 2021 selection.

The unforgettable story of a marriage as seen through the eyes of both husband and wife, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.  Ever since they first met and fell in love at university, Yejide and Akin have agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time – until her in-laws arrive on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant.