The Grandmothers Campaign is an initiative of the Stephen Lewis Foundation

Textile Art

Past Events 2010:   Page 1/2

AfriGrand Caravan in the Comox Valley

When:  Tuesday Nov 9, 2010, 7pm

Where: The Best Western, The Westerly Hotel, Courtenay, BC

Event Image:

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photo by Lindsay Chung, courtesy of Comox Valley Record

Grandmothers Stand Up, Granddaughters Speak Out, Communities Take Action 

Through the efforts of the Merville Grand Mothers,  African grandmother, Tsabile Victoria Simelane, and a beautiful young woman and granddaughter, Thandeka Carol Motswa, visited the Comox Valley. 

Their visit was part of AfriGrand Caravan:  a cross-Canada tour sponsored by the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Evening Event

At a standing room only event MC'd by Merville Grand Mothers Janet Fairbanks and Darry Oudendag, the guests were greeted with a traditional welcome from the Kumugwe Dancers of the K'omoks First Nations.

Ryna Olonan, who was travelling with Tsabile and Thandeka, brought greetings from the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and introduced the two women, who then told us their stories.

Both Tsabile and Thandeka  spoke about the losses in their lives – losses that we cannot imagine enduring. 

Thandeka looked after her mother when she was dying of AIDS, then lost her when she was only 12 years old. Shortly afterward, her father died in an accident.   She was forced to leave school, become the head of a household, and look after 3 younger siblings. 

“When my mother was about to pass on, she gave me this message, take care of your young siblings.  And this was so difficult to because I was so young and I didn’t know how I would cope.”

Tsabile’s lost  numerous relatives to HIV and AIDS and now cares for 7 orphans in her home and 23 others in her communit

SWAPOL has helped both women by providing farm inputs, food, clothing, and primary school fees.  However, SWAPOL’s limited resources do not extend to paying school fees for Thandeka to go to high school.  Education is her goal, she wants to become a nurse.  And, Tsabile dreams of a vocational school in the community for other young people who have not had the chance for post-primary education.

We were encouraged to learn that:

  • The fist against HIV and AIDS is not a losing battle.   Progress is being made.
  • The support of the Stephen Lewis Foundation is making a real difference for grassroots organizations like Swaziland Positive Living (SWAPOL)

The evening was rounded out by rousing community singing led by Letz Sing Choir Community.

Audience members also had a chance to see the Glacier Grannies' beautiful fabric art display, “Turning the Tide ... one ripple at a time” and to buy gift items created by North Island Granny groups, including the Glacier Grannies.

Afternoon School Visit

In the afternoon, Thandeka Carol Motswa spoke to high school students from across the valley at Mark Isfield School.


Earlier in the day the Glacier Grannies organized a luncheon for the SLF delegation and other grandmother groups.  The event was fully sold out, the food was excellent, and it was a wonderful way for many North Island Grandmother groups to come together.


A lot of people and organizations contributed to this successful day.  Thanks to:

  • The “mighty” Merville Grandmothers for sponsoring and coordinating the AfriGrand Caravan visit
  • The Best Western, The Westerly Hotel and Convention Centre for the donation of their venue for the evening event
  • I Hos Gallery and the Kumugwe Dancers
  • Letz Sing Choir Community
  • All of the Glacier Grannies who contributed food or helped at the luncheon,  those who worked at the Textile Art Exhibition that day, and those presented crafts for sale
  • All of the out-of-the valley Grandmother groups who came and participated in the event: Powell River, Campbell River, Port Alberni, Hornby Island, Denman Island

Fundraising Bicycle Ride: Support our cyclists!

When: Friday, Sept 10th, 2010, 11:30am

Where: Seniors Fitness Park, Courtenay, BC

Event Image: 

Grannies cycling to raise money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

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A group of 21 Vancouver Island grandmothers and “grand others” stopped in the Comox Valley while on a fund raising bicycle ride from Campbell River to Victoria.
The Glacier Grannies organized a lunch for the riders and their supporters.  45 lunches were served and the weather cooperated by not raining!
Hats off to the bikers, who all completed the trip safely.
Funds raised at the lunch:  $300+

Thanks to Gail Higham and Lorraine Waring for coordinating the lunch, and to the enthusiastic "gals"  who contributed food and provided assistance.

Images from the event:

Pumped Cyclists (2010) Grannies Ready to Ride (2010)    Close

Voices of Pastoralist Women of Ethiopia

When:  July 20, 2010

Where: Comox, BC

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Jean Munro, who has recently returned from two and a half years in Ethiopia, gave a talk and power point presentation describing the lives of the nomadic Pastoralist women of south east Ethiopia. 

Pastoralists are people who live a nomadic lifestyle and who highly value livestock, primarily camels. 

Jean's work as a consultant with the Pastoral Concern Association of Ethiopia exposed her to these women's struggles to obtain basic human rights, and she told us fascinating stories of their lives and the heroic efforts they are making to improve their situation.


Thank you to:

  • Jean and Linda Munro for organizing the evening,
  • to the Glacier Grannies who brought refereshments, and helped make this a very successful event, and
  • to Comox United Church for providing the hall.

Special thanks to everyone who made a donation to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Funds raised: $542    Close

Celebration Party

When: June 27 2010

Where:  Comox Valley

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A big group of Grannies, their friends and partners enjoyed an evening of food and conversation to celebrate the success of our Textile Art exhibition.

Ed F. rose at 4:00 a.m. to prepare a succulent barbecue of pulled pork and roast beef  and served us in his chef's hat and apron.  A pot luck of delicious dishes rounded out the meal, and we had a wonderful evening.


Thanks to our co-chair Barb T. and her  husband James T. for hosting this event.

Ed, your cooking was wonderful! Thanks, thanks, thanks.    Close

Swaziland Grandmothers' Gathering Presentation

When: June 23, 2010

Where: Courtenay, BC

Event Image:

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Sally Gellard, of the Merville Grandmothers, and Gloria Hebert, of Hornby's United Grandmothers and Grand Sisters, presented a talk and slide show about their recent visit to Africa and their experiences at the Swaziland  Grandmothers' Gathering,  the first International Grandmothers' Gathering in Africa.

The Gathering brought together 500 grandmothers from thirteen countries of sub-Saharan Africa under the auspices of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

With passion and humour, both women described their experiences as members of the group of Canadian grandmothers who were privileged to be observers at the conference, and their participation in the Solidarity March. 

For each of them, the highlights of the events were their opportunities to meet and share the stories with the African grandmothers.  The conference produced an action plan, the Manzini Statement, which was read to the audience by members of the Merville Grandmothers.

The evening, which was held in conjunction with the Courtenay showing of Textile Art for Africa, was rounded out by a rousing performance of African songs by members of Letz Sing, and refreshments provided by the Glacier Grannies.


A big thank you to Sally and Gloria, the members of Letz Sing and  the Florence Filberg Centre for providing the Rotary Hall for the event.

More information

View a short, inspiring video highlighting the Swaziland Gathering.

Listen to a podcast about the event:

The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright May 16th, 2010 (3rd hour)    Close

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Help relieve the suffering from HIV and AIDS today and donate to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Aids angels dolls

AIDS Angels - $15

Individually handcrafted by a group of Glacier Grannies, these beautiful Angels are a wonderful keepsake or gift. 

Each Angel comes with a personalized name card which explains the work of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign.