EFry Calgary – Part One

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary (EFry Calgary)

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary (EFry Calgary) is an agency that serves the needs of women who are currently engaged with judicial systems charges, including bylaw tickets, warrants, missed court dates, and child custody issues. The Calgary chapter of EFry focuses not only on these pressing matters, but the woman’s needs as a whole. “For 50 years, we have offered a hand up to thousands of women engaged with the legal and justice systems by providing practical programs, basic necessities and connections to community resources. Our goal is to give them the skills they need to create more hopeful futures.”[1]

EFry Calgary has historically focused on being able to engage their clients on a deeper level. The organization often provides support on many levels that are critical to women of colour. They have been a member of CommunityWise on and off for many years, most recently since 2014.

When Executive Director Katelyn Lucas is asked what the two biggest contributing factors beyond involvement with the justice system are for EFry Calgary’s clients, the answer is first, trauma (specifically inter-generational trauma); the second most common factor, often affecting women of colour and associated with inter-generational trauma, is poverty.

With anywhere from 60 to 80% of their clientele being women of colour, EFry Calgary is well versed in the needs of marginalized populations. EFry Calgary not only helps women to find their voices inside of the legal system but also offers a wide range of basic and complex needs support. When visiting their offices, you are no sooner in the door before you see a tray of pastries and a coffee station; further into the office, you will see cabinet filled with hygiene products. EFry Calgary knows that if they can start a relationship built on trust, acknowledging that there is more to a person than their legal issues, they have a better chance of helping their clients move beyond the needs that brought them to EFry Calgary to begin with. Providing a snack and hygiene products are the first steps of many to help build this relationship.

EFry Calgary also offers support through referrals to different services and agencies. Once a woman has engaged with EFry Calgary, staff and volunteers can help with referrals to things like addictions treatment programs, housing supports, and food resources. Having a staff member or volunteer help fill out forms and paperwork works to remove yet another barrier for their clients.

EFry Calgary has evolved to include cultural considerations in the engagement and support of their clients, volunteers, and staff. They offer the chance for volunteers to learn about other cultural norms and practises through conversation and explanation. This kind of inclusive attitude is helpful to the way EFry Calgary engages their clients and to the way that clients engage EFry Calgary.

EFry Calgary works very hard to avoid speaking on behalf of their clients, rather removing the barriers that have been created by racism, inter-generational trauma, and poverty so their clients can hear and see their options clearly to create a guided plan based on sound advice instead of reaction. This approach is not usually the way people of colour are engaged by “helper agencies”, and often the voice of the person of colour is silenced to the point of making choices that are not in their best interest but are the easiest way out of the immediate crisis.

Working both inside and outside of prisons, EFry Calgary also has their eye on the long-term plans of their clients. This planning includes in-custody engagement, connection to spiritual guidance and cultural teachings, release plans, and returning to the community planning and management so their clients have the best possible chance of long term success.

Through the years, the programs and services EFry Calgary offers have changed, grown, and been reinvented but many things have remained the same: their focus on helping women navigate the justice system, their desire to be culturally diverse, and their ability to give women of colour space to have a voice in some of the most colonial and frightening systems the Canadian government has to offer.

[1] About Us, Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary (EFry Calgary)

This story was researched and written by Susan Gwynn. We would like to thank Katelyn Lucas, current executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, for taking the time to speak with us about EFry Calgary.

In the fall of 2017, CommunityWise received a Community Initiatives Program (CIP) Canada Alberta 150 grant from the Government of Alberta to: tell stories that celebrate the history of social justice work done by CommunityWise member organizations who were led by and worked in service of racialized and Indigenous communities; and, develop podcast episodes that discuss the challenges and opportunities that ethno-racial diversity presents. This work is part of CommunityWise’s on going Anti-Racist Organizational Change (AROC) process.

Work Bee! October 3

We're holding another Work Bee to get some cleaning and maintenance work done around the building! Potential tasks will include kitchen cleaning, wall scrubbing, carpet vacuuming/cleaning, and painting. These monthly Work Bees play a big role in the ongoing collective care of our shared space.

Date: Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Time: 4-7pm (flexible; come when you can during these hours)
Location: CommunityWise (223 12 Avenue SW)

Snacks provided!

Sign-up by emailing erin@communitywise.net

CommunityWise Annual Report is here!

Thank you to all of those who were able to attend our successful 2018 Annual General Meeting! Weren't able to attend? Read the note from our Board below and click here to view the full Annual Report.

Message from the Board

The CommunityWise Board of Directors would like to extend our thanks to all of you for attending the Annual General Meeting for 2018. This is our organization’s 39th year in existence, and this past year has been truly amazing.  As a member-based organization with an incredible (incredible!) staff, this success is because of all of you! This annual report goes into further detail about all the ways in which grassroots social change is making an impact for thousands of Calgarians and building a more  equitable non-profit sector. Here are a few items from the Board:

This past year we met every second month and  had two  orientation  and strategic  planning  sessions. Board members were also part of the  finance,  governance, human  resources,  and lease  committees,  along with  community  members and  staff.  We benefited from  the  exceptional work  of  the Anti-Racist  Organizational  Change process  (AROC),  receiving training  from  AROC and  working  with staff  to update  policies and  practices  to  put  anti-racism into  action. Other  highlights include  hiring  new permanent  and  temporary staff:  Finance  and Office  Coordinator  Sarah Zhu,  Summer Student Eman  Hussen, Administrative Support  Di Honorio,  Project Coordinator Megan  Asselin, and AROC  Support  Staff Sameen  Ashraf.  Each of  these  individuals has  brought  a ton  of  talent and  experience  to our  organization  and we  are  thrilled to  have  had them  working  with us!

The  last  year has  included  a lot  of  emphasis on  developing  board skills,  especially  in advancing  our  theory of  change  and using  consensus  decision making,  and  on building  our  overall cohesion.  We’re  excited to  be  moving ahead  with  the City  on  our lease  and  supporting the  excellent  work of  our  staff  and  our members.

Along  with  the standard  board  business, the  best  part of  our  role is  hearing  about the  amazing  work  of  our members.  We're  incredibly proud  of  all of  our  members and  the work YOU do,  day in  and  day  out.  We thank  you  and appreciate  you.

In  solidarity,

CommunityWise Board  of  Directors


Congrats CommunityWise member award winners!

Each May at our Annual General Meeting, CommunityWise recognizes a small group of incredible members by giving out Member Awards. Read about the five 2018 receipients below! 

Spirit of CommunityWise #1: Eritrean Canadian Community Association. 

The Spirit of CommunityWise is awarded to a member who contributes to the vitality and spirit of our centre with their ongoing programs, services, events, meetings, and presence. The Eritrean Canadian Community Association, a member at the centre here for 30 years, has had an extremely exciting and busy past year expanding their services at the centre and coming together to promote unity and advancement of Eritreans while increasing the understanding and appreciation of Eritrean Heritage.

Spirit of CommunityWise #2: Calgary After School Program.

The Calgary Afterschool Program operates out of CommunityWise and the Beltline Fitness Centre next door. They facilitate creative and flexible programming for resident youth. They and their participants bring amazing energy to many parts of the building. The youth leaders' compassion, genuine care in the delivery of the program, and ability to adapt to the changing needs of a shared use environment like ours is no small task and does not go unnoticed.

Community Award: Change the Face of Addiction. 

The Community Award is offered to a member organization that strives to create a more equitable community, by providing barriers-reduced space, resources, and programming and/or by advocating for the specific needs of diverse communities. The Community Award for 2018 is awarded to Change the Face of Addiction who are doing leading edge and grassroots work in Calgary around the importance of harm reduction and changing the narrative about addiction in this time of crisis.

Collaborator Award: Calgary School of Informal Education (CSIE).

The Collaborator Award is offered to a member who has over the year cultivated relationships, connections, engagement opportunities, and collaboration at CommunityWise. CSIE has been able to bring life to the space downstairs, and are experimenting with different ways to engage folks and partners. We are excited to see what happens next for them.

Spirit of the Old Y: Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids (BB4CK).

The Spirit of the Old Y is awarded to an organization that has been with the Old Y building for many years (in this case, 11 years) and embodies the spirit, historic purpose, and present values of our centre with their ongoing programs and services. BB4CK is an amazing tenant member: consistent, supportive, caring, and proactive. They have also supported CommunityWise through connecting us to new programs and resources for the benefit of all members.

2018 Annual General Meeting – details & documents

2018 Annual General Meeting – May 31

PLEASE RSVP: erin@communitywise.net

Year-in-Review – Board Elections – Member Awards – Refreshments – Feedback Opportunities – Group Photo

All member groups: please plan to send at least one representative and feel free to bring friends and family. Community members welcome too!

The AGM is a great opportunity to participate and to learn more about our past year at CommunityWise, while meeting other fantastic CommunityWise members!

*Food provided! Bring a potluck dish to share if you’d like*


Thursday, 31 May 2018 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (doors at 6pm)


CommunityWise Common Room – 223 12 Avenue SW

(this is a mainfloor, wheelchair accessible space, and there is an accessible and gender-neutral washroom)

CommunityWise is located in the traditional territories of the Blackfoot and the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Siksika, the Piikuni, the Kainai, the Tsuu T’ina, and the Stoney Nakoda First Nations. The city of Calgary is also home to Metis Nation of Alberta, Region III. 


Emcees: Courtney Robertson and Aminah Malik (Board of Directors)

  1. Welcome, Land Acknowledgement, and Introductions
  2. Group Networking Activity
  3. Approve the Agenda for AGM May 31, 2018
  4. Approve the Minutes of AGM May 18, 2017
  5. Business Arising from Minutes of May 18, 2017
  6. Presentation of Annual Report by Staff Collective
  7. Presentation and Approval of 2017 Audited Financial Statements
  8. Board Elections and Announcement of 2018-2019 Board
  9. Member Awards Ceremony
  10. Announcements
  11. Adjournment and outside for group photo


A DRAFT of the 2017 Audited Financial Statements can be found here (the Membership will be asked to approve the Audited Statements at the AGM upon recommendation by the CommunityWise Board of Directors).


Five applications to the CommunityWise Board of Directors for new three-year terms were received and will be decided on by the Membership at the AGM (please direct follow-up questions or concerns about any of the applications to info@communitywise.net prior to the AGM).

Please see their names and bios below. Five Board Members will also be leaving the Board at the AGM.

Chris Jensen – Calgary Centre for Global Community/Humainologie (Tenant Member)

Chris Jensen is the Director, Operations of Calgary Centre for Global Community and Humainologie. She has extensive administrative and management experience, including strategic planning, organizational and intercultural communication, staff and volunteer management, training and workshop development and facilitation, and day-to-day operational necessities. She worked for 10 years in the Middle East, both in the United Arab Emirates and in Qatar, and developed a growing awareness of the inequities, discriminations and divisiveness that are inherent in our global community. Because of that, she keenly supports and defends equity and justice for all, and believes that human-to-human connection with open, honest communication can be one place to start healing many cultural and societal wounds.

Erin Jenkins – Calgary Queer Arts Society (Tenant Member)

Erin is a Calgary-based arts administrator and musician, who works at the intersection of programming, event management, audience development, education and activism. She has worked with The Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival since 2015 as The Operations Manager, and as an active tenant of The CommunityWise Building, understands the unique needs of the space and the value provided to the community. She has particular expertise in fund development and grant-writing, which has lead to securing major project grants for Fairy Tales, including the development of a feature-length documentary on the history of queer activism in Calgary.
From 2009-2014 she worked with Theatre Junction Grand as the Education and Outreach Coordinator. She also acted as the organizations’ primary grant-writer, sourcing and securing $1,000,000 in annual funding from all three levels of government, as well as private foundations and corporate sponsorships. She has also served on the jury for Calgary Arts Development.
Erin is also an active artist in the local music scene and has released a number of albums and completed cross-Canadian tours with various musical projects. She holds a BFA in Drama and a BA in philosophy from the University of Calgary.
Wendy Treschel – Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids (Tenant Member)

I am a working mother of 4 older kids (24,21,18 and 16). I have worked for Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids for the last 6 years as the Volunteer and Fund Development coordinator. Like with most smaller organizations, I do a variety of jobs that I am hoping will be of value to bring to CommunityWise. I love to help organize everything and am an open and honest person. I am friendly and enjoy meeting and getting to know new people. I am excited to start volunteering more now that some of my time has freed up. 

Syma Habib – Community Member

Syma Habib is obsessed with ideas, community, intersectionality and imagining new ways of being and relating to one another. She currently works at the Alex Community Food Centre where she was a part of the founding team. She built and coordinates the community action program, which focuses on making social justice and advocacy work accessible to low-income and/or marginalized Calgarians.  She believes that justice is as fundamental as love, compassion and understanding, and works hard to remove people’s discomfort with the colonial understanding of the word.  Syma has only lived in Calgary for a few years, but is so proud to live in this beautiful city full of kind people.  She loves story-telling, the outdoors, slow food, and dancing.

Megan Asselin – Community Member

Megan Asselin is an Anishinaabe Métis woman with roots in Northwestern Ontario and her heart in Moh-kíns-tsis (Calgary). A Registered Social Worker and MSW student with an interest in community development practice, she has been working and volunteering in the non-profit sector for more than 20 years. Getting her volunteering start in historical interpretation and (failed) service dog training, Megan has since grown into a love of community organizing that focuses on inclusion, equity, and an interest in social justice that has been getting her in trouble since the fifth grade (sorry, Miss P.) Megan has been a participant in CommunityWise’s AROC process, serving with both the Advisory and Working groups, since 2016.

As per the CommunityWise Board of Directors Terms of Reference, prospective Board Members were asked to provide written responses to the following questions, in addition to submitting a bio. Responses will be sent directly to the Membership.

1) Why are you interested in serving as a Board member for CommunityWise?

2) What are your perspectives and/or experiences that you will bring to the Board?

3) Please check area(s) of knowledge/skills you feel you can bring to further our mission:

  • Advocacy
  • Evaluation
  • Financial/Accounting
  • Fund Development
  • Governance
  • Human Resources
  • Legal
  • Policy Development
  • Community Engagement
  • Strategic Planning
  • Other

4) What group(s), organization(s) or community(ies) do you represent, participate in, or identify with (both inside and outside of CommunityWise)?

5) Anti-Racist Organizational Change (AROC) is a current strategic focus of CommunityWise. What do you hope to contribute to this work? What do you hope to learn?

6) Please share any additional information you feel is important in considering your application as a Board candidate.