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!


A few of us have decided to start a UJAMAA GRANDMAS book club in which we read and discuss books about Africa.

The book we have selected for discussion in our first meeting is This Mournable Body, by Tsitsi Dangarembga of Zimbabwe (one of the countries where the SLF is active). This book was among those recommended by the Lonely Planet in a post shared in the January E-News, and was long-listed for the 2020 Man Booker Prize. The Calgary Public Library calls it “(a)  searing novel about the obstacles facing women in Zimbabwe, by one of the country’s most notable authors”.

Availability: The book is available at the Library (13 copies available at time of writing, plus audiobook and e-book). It is also in stock at Pages on Kensington and Shelf Life Books. Both stores are open, or offer curbside pickup and even free delivery but call first for what areas are included.

At the meeting, we can talk about future dates and times, book titles, and how to organize ourselves.

WHAT: Africa Book Club – “This Mournable Body”
WHEN: Friday, March 26 from 1:30 to 3:00 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.

Looking forward to meeting some new people in a new way!

Leslie Buckle


Spring may be coming, with renewed anticipation of a ‘better world’. I do hope that many of you have successfully made appointments for your vaccine, and others will have that opportunity soon. And also I do hope that you have all remained healthy.
I thought a review of the following would underline how UJAMAA GRANDMAS are indeed instrumental in working towards a ‘better world’.

An enduring and nurturing community, working to assist African grandmothers and children affected by HIV/AIDS, to improve their lives.

To raise awareness and funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, using the skills and talents of a vibrant volunteer community.

Solidarity: We commit to one another’s well-being.

Social Justice: “We won’t rest until they can rest” so we can contribute to meeting the needs of grandmothers and grandOTHERS (locally and in Africa).

Powered By Love: Meaningful relationships empower our collective efforts.

Simplicity: We strive for clarity, consistency, to make decisions quickly and pragmatically, focusing on what is essential.

Trust: We say what we mean, keep our promises and treat others with respect.

Care: We act responsibly towards our members, contributors, society and our environment.

The March issue of the E-News is a testament of how UJAMAA GRANDMAS are contributing to a ‘better world’. The 2020 Financial Results are amazing, due to members’ ingenious approaches to finding alternative ways to hold events during COVID-19. It was so heartening to read the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) summary of what we have contributed in 2020 ($79,082) and that we have exceeded the $1.5 million mark since we began in 2004!!! CONGRATULATIONS TO US.

We continued to hold successful events during the past month. I thank ALL of you who volunteered and contributed to The UG Market Fabric and Yarn Sale. This was a huge undertaking by which both goals were met – all the stored fabrics and yarns from the past 2 years were sold/donated, and sales amounted to $17,500! Many thanks to the Education and Awareness ’team’ for the presentation by Bianca Marais – it was so well organized and thoroughly enjoyable. The link provided to view this will be well worth your time. Thanks to everyone who donated to the SLF for this evening.

Our own UG team for the SLF 15th anniversary is beginning to plan for this event, and is looking forward to your submissions. The Handcraft Committee will be hosting this Spring’s Demo Day. There’s a new African Book Club beginning this month. And finally, I hope to meet you at the next UG Gathering on March 17th – we’ll need to wear green to celebrate the day, and all the ways UJAMAA GRANDMAS has contributed to a ‘better world’.

Keep well and safe.


The following is a new item that has been added this month and in future 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 Liz Forseth as our first write-up in your March E-news.



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


There is certainly a lot going on with Grandmothers groups across the country this month. Below is the link to a list of virtual events that are being organized by groups within the Grandmothers Campaign. These include several virtual author events and for myself I’m particularly interested in The Old Orchard Blossoms and the BramGran’s invitation to watch a conversation about the Canadian immigrant experience between author Jon Tattrie and Tareq Hadhad, CEO of Peace by Chocolate.  Also of interest for me is the Grandmas Partnering with Africa presentations of 3 online evening workshops about Africa . Then if I have time I’d like to join the Capital Grannies and start planning my native garden with two master gardeners. Find these events and many more HERE.

Planning for the big 15th Anniversary concert is going very well. Many of you have asked who the performers are going to be. You can find that and more details about the event HERE.

Online sales continue to grow across the Campaign with groups showcasing their products through their own websites, Facebook, local media attention, word of mouth and the new Grandmothers Campaign marketplace.

Carol Schultz from the PENINSULA GRANNIES co-ordinates the sale of Grandmothers Campaign t-shirts. These t-shirts are 100% cotton (with compacted yarns to minimize shrinkage). They have tapered necks and shoulders and a tear-away label. T-shirts are available in sizes XS-4XL and in a range of colours: black, charcoal, maroon, kelly green, navy, purple, red, royal blue t-shirts with the white Grandmothers Campaign logo OR lime, yellow, sangria, heather, light blue, white, silver t-shirts with the black Grandmothers Campaign logo. They are $23 each, which includes the tax and shipping cost to one address per group, with no minimum amount. All proceeds from the t-shirt sales go towards the Grandmothers Campaign (through the PENINSULA GRANNIES ).  The last date to order is March 15, 2021. Please contact Carol Schultz from PENINSULA GRANNIES at or 519-795-7798. NOTE:  There must be at least 15 shirts ordered across Canada or the orders will be cancelled and funds returned. A sample in black is shown HERE.

March Campaign Call
Join us on Thursday, March 18 at 12:30 pm Eastern time for our monthly Campaign call.>
We’ll use the time together to share tips and ideas for fundraising online.
These Campaign calls take place every month. Save the following dates:  April 15, May 20, June 17.
Email:  to RSVP or use the registration form in the members only section of the Grandmothers Campaign website.



“When we focus on our gratitude, the wave of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.” Kristen Armstrong.

Through these challenging times, we are all needing to ‘hold on’ to all that is good in order to give us the resilience to bear the uncertainty we face with each new day. A year ago we never would have dreamt that we would spend the last ten months developing coping skills to deal with a worldwide pandemic. But we have done just that, and here we are, indeed, coping, in one way or another. Well done you!

One way to boost our coping skills is to remind ourselves of all we have to be grateful for, and my friend, the list is long. Since we have plenty of time on our hands let’s make a project of it! Find a beautiful jar or bowl in your home; possibly dust one off from the back of the cupboard, something that is only used for ‘special occasions’. Or, get creative! Find a large jar and do some decorating! Whatever vessel you chose, label it: Gratitude Jar/Bowl. Now cut up pieces of paper, approximately 4×4, colourful would be fun, and set them by the jar, with a pen or pencil handy. (Those who use Facebook, take a picture of your jar and post it on UJAMAA GRANDMAS!)

Each day, take a moment or three, to pause and think of what you are grateful for. It could be something big, like the privilege of the roof over your head and a warm home, or maybe something smaller: completing a project; getting a good night’s sleep; or enjoying a delicious take out dinner from a local restaurant. And we know, in life, it can be the little things that make us the happiest, a wave from a neighbor, a card from a friend, or a call from one of the kids.

Our project is to write down what you are grateful for, the big things, right down to the littlest of things.  Tuck them in the jar and watch them grow.  If you would like to add a ‘giving’ component to this project here is an idea.  If what you are grateful for on any given day brought you joy, toss some change in the jar.  On another day if what you are grateful for brought you great joy, throw a fiver in!  At the end of the pandemic, count the cash in the jar and make a donation to the SLF for that amount!  A way of giving back for all we appreciate.

When the struggle of isolation feels a little overwhelming, glance at the jar and be reminded that you are grateful for so many things in your life, and remember… before too long you will have ‘social gatherings’ and ‘hugs with friends’ to add to the jar!

Take good care of yourself. We are here for you; write us at if we can help in any way.

“The struggle ends when the gratitude begins”.  Neale Donald Walsh



  • 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.


As mentioned in the December E-News, one of our members advised us of the Toronto Grandmothers Partnering with Africa fundraiser. They have a selection of beautiful Scarves and Pashminas for sale on their website. Each item sells for $20 plus shipping costs. Check them out HERE.


As most of you know, the Connections Team has had its wings clipped since the pandemic came upon us. We had scheduled some Winter Walks in November and December but given further restrictions and anticipation of colder weather in January, we have decided to take a break for now. We will reassess the situation for February.

In the meantime, the Connection Team would like to wish you all a peaceful and safe Holiday Season. Who would have thought a year ago, life would be so different and day to day connections between us all would be a thing only of dreams. In the meantime, it is one day at a time gathering strength where we can. We have made it this far and thankfully, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Please take care of yourselves.


The indoor walking group that meets on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Market Mall is suspended until the Alberta Health Services Emergency is cancelled.

Thank you for your support, be safe & stay healthy.
Sandra Burgess


Our UJAMAA GRANDMAS members have many creative and lucrative ideas for new and ongoing fundraisers; the UJAMAA GRANDMAS Board sincerely thanks everyone for their tireless efforts and ingenuity.

To contribute to the success of our UJAMAA GRANDMAS events, the Sales and Finance Committee has worked hard, combined with direction from the Board, in creating a framework to be used when planning fundraisers. We are pleased to announce a new set of forms to assist in the successful planning of future UJAMAA GRANDMAS fundraising events.

  • The first of these forms must be completed and submitted 8 to 10 weeks prior to any upcoming event.
  • Following the first forms, there are additional forms to guide you through the planning process.
  • These additional forms should be submitted at least 4 weeks prior to your event.
  • Once we are all familiarized with the process, these forms will be a great help in the planning of our events!

A reminder that in keeping up with these unusual times, the UJAMAA GRANDMAS Board has developed COVID-19 Risk Management forms, including the AHS Screening Questionnaire for any UJAMAA GRANDMAS in-person and on-line events. These were designed to make it easier for anyone planning an event and laying the foundation to keep everyone safe.

Please email “” to obtain the required forms or for more information.


Please note that the Board is looking for one or two Members to join the Nominating Committee. This committee would help find individuals to fill the two vacant positions on the current Board (ie. the Events Liaison plus a Member at Large).

If you are interested in being on the Nominating Committee, or in filling the Board position of either the Events Liaison or Member at Large, please contact and your email will be forwarded to the appropriate person.



Tentatively set for Saturday, September 25, 2021 (not September 18 as previously reported). Further information will be provided next year as the planning process occurs.