Member Spotlight: Calgary Centre for Global Community (CCGC)

Calgary Centre for Global Community (CCGC) – Tenant Member (April 2018)

Interviewer: Maddison Coulson. CommunityWise – Practicum Student.

Interviewee: Chris Jensen. CCGC – Director, Operations.


What is the name of your organization?

Calgary Centre for Global Community (CCGC) – founded 2008.

Humainologie – multimedia production house, established 2015.

Can you summarize what your organization’s main objectives are? What are the mission/vision/value(s) that your organization abides by?

CCGC aspires to build a culture of people who are capable of bringing about extraordinary positive change through informed and sustained civic engagement.

Humainologie’s mission is to promote the recognition of our shared humanity, through raising empathy and awareness around issues of vulnerability, human connection, and breaking down barriers between people.  We are all interconnected, and cooperation is vital to create a future in which we can all thrive.

How has your organization changed over time?

In 2015, we founded Humainologie to be a multimedia production house for CCGC to help increase empathy and understanding, as well as raise more awareness about ourselves and others.

Why did you feel the need to start this organization?

We felt the need to start Humainologie because we identified the ability to expand our influence and our impact, recognizing the need for increased empathy and understanding and raising awareness about ourselves and others. Through connection to ourselves and each other, we are able to accept and appreciate our own and others individual uniqueness, beauty, and imperfections. Through film and other multimedia content we reach a wider audience and have a bigger impact on increasing understanding.

What is it like working at CCGC? What is a typical day?

A typical day looks like connecting with partners in the community to see if and how we can collaborate, managing logistics for different events, and running the office.

What are some challenges working at CCGC?

As an organization, funding is a challenge, and so is raising our own profile. Also, because we’re so small, it gets a little lonely. However, reaching out to the community helps. It can also be challenging trying to break down barriers between other non-profits, but it’s important so we can start building each up.

Are there any new projects you are working on at the moment?

We’re looking at hosting our second annual Empathy Week, a series of programming to increase empathy and understand vulnerability. This will be held from June 1st– 7th.

We’re also working on our third annual film festival which will be held May 16thand May 17th.

We are also doing a podcast series called “Empathy Walk YYC” in which we will walk through the Beltline looking into historical buildings and the stories associated with those buildings.

There are currently two film series that we’ve done called Under the Umbrella we Met, and we are currently working on another in which we have partnered with Fairytales to address gender identities.

What is Humainologie in terms of CCGC? How are they different? How are they linked?

Humainologie is linked to CCGC in the way that CCGC is the legal entity and Humainologie is the production house. They are separate in that CCGC still has its own projects, such as the Social Transformation Tournament, and Humainologie does the multimedia side, such as films, podcasts and web series.

How has being a member at CommunityWise impacted your organization?

Working within CommunityWise raised our awareness about a lot of other good work happening in the city, and we have been able to make connections that we might not have otherwise made. It allowed us to partner with other members like SEEDS Connections, and Fairytales, as well as some other non-profit organizations.

Is your organization hosting any events coming up soon that folks might be interested in?

Yes, there is going to be the film festival on May 16thand 17th,2018, at the Globe Theatre. Empathy week is from June 1stto 7th, 2018, with programming to be held in various locations around the city. The third annual Social Transformation Tournament will be held in September 2018.

Where can folks go for more information about your organization?


Facebook: Humainologie


Facebook: CalgaryCGC

Member Spotlight: Refuge Recovery Beltline

Refuge Recovery Beltline – Associate Member (March 2018)

Interviewer: Maddison Coulson, CommunityWise – Practicum Student.

Interviewee: Aminah Malik, Refuge Recovery Beltine.


  • What is the name of your organization?

Refuge Recovery Beltline

  • When were you established?

The first Refuge Recovery meetings started in Los Angeles in 2008, and then the book Refuge Recovery (from which the program is based) was published in 2014. Our group, Refuge Recovery Beltline, was established in December 2014.

  • How has your organization changed over time?

Three years in, there are now over 300 Refuge Recovery meetings worldwide. There have been three Refuge Recovery Conferences in Los Angeles, where the greater Refuge Recovery community has come together to practice together, and discuss the program as it rapidly grows across the world. At the Refuge Conference in 2016, the Refuge Recovery Guiding Principles were established. In 2017, geographic regions were delineated so that Refuge Recovery communities in the same region could connect and support one another.

The first year our group was established, there were anywhere from 2 to 10 people in a meeting once a week. We started in a little space on 17th Avenue that was located underneath a retail space. Having an online presence brought more attention to our community, as we developed a Facebook page and website early on. At the end of 2015, we found CommunityWise Resource Centre (CW), and began renting the Arusha space in early 2016. Because of the inclusive and affordable space CW offered, we quickly became self-supporting, and started our second meeting. We were now offering meetings on Monday and Thursday nights, and we quickly began to see about 20-30 people in each of our meetings every week!

In 2016, we began to develop a very healthy, close-knit recovery community. More and more people became interested and involved in Refuge. Treatment centres in Calgary began recommending our meeting as part of their programming. By the end of 2016, the demand for another meeting was high. In early 2017, we started a Beginners meeting on Sundays, in addition to our two existing meetings. The Beginners meeting aimed to support those just starting out in the Refuge Recovery program, by focusing on foundational practices. We also had the support of several mentors actively working with members in the group.

The Refuge Recovery Beltline community has grown considerably since 2014. We were so pleased to be able to bring in one of the founding Buddhist teachers of Refuge Recovery, Dave Smith, to offer a talk and workshop for our community in the summer of 2017. Earlier in the same year, the Clinical Director of Refuge Recovery Treatment Center in LA, Dr. Stephen Dansiger, came to CommunityWise to offer our community a talk. It has been wonderful to be able to support our community in more ways than simply offering meetings. The talks given by Dave Smith and Dr. Dansiger are available on our website.

  • Can you summarize what your organization’s main objectives are? What are the your mission/vision/value(s) that your organization abides by?

The main objective of Refuge Recovery is to work towards a full recovery from all forms of addiction, and to develop a lifelong sense of wellbeing and happiness. The program recognizes a non-theistic approach to recovery. It is an abstinence-based program whereby members practice mindfulness, compassion, forgiveness and generosity (the core principles of the program).  The program aids in the process of healing the underlying conditions that lead to addiction. Refuge Recovery recognizes that the group’s health and wellbeing is of utmost importance – that personal recovery depends on connection with a healthy, safe, confidential and stable community. Each group refrains from violence, dishonesty, sexual misconduct and intoxication, and aims to remain accessible to all who seek recovery from addiction.

  • Tell me about “Refuge Recovery”, the book on which you base your recovery.

The book is written by Noah Levine, a Buddhist teacher and founding teacher of the program and Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society in LA. The book provides a systematic approach to recovering from all forms of addiction. Levine outlines the traditional Buddhist system of the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path – which, in this book are used as a framework for recovery. The book also contains personal stories of recovery, meditations, and meeting formats and resources for those looking to start a meeting of their own.

  • Why a Buddhist approach?

In the beginning, we were only a small group of people that truly felt the need for an alternative recovery program – something other than traditional 12-step based recovery programs. We were not sure if the program would catch on in Calgary, or if other people in recovery would find it helpful. Over three years, we’ve grown to be the largest Refuge Recovery group in Canada. In my opinion, recovery is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ thing. People are different, and each of our recovery journeys are unique. A Buddhist approach is just one way to do it. I’m personally very happy I found it, because it works for me. And I’m very happy to have been able to share it with other people, and see it work for them too.

  • What is the Eightfold Path Study?

On Thursdays, our meeting is an Eightfold Path Study. Eight chapters of the book are each dedicated to a ‘Fold’ of the Eightfold Path. Each week, we read and discuss one of these ‘Folds’.

The Eightfold Path is easiest described as spokes on a wheel, rather than a step-by-step, linear process. Recovery happens when all spokes are balanced, and ‘true’. The Eightfold Path is:
1. Understanding
2. Intention
3. Communication/Community
4. Action/ Engagement
5. Livelihood/Service
6. Effort/Energy
7. Mindfulness/Meditations
8. Concentration/Meditations

  • What is it like working/volunteering at Refuge Recovery? What is a typical day?

Each meeting follows a similar format: Introductions, Guided Meditation, Reading, and Sharing. A meeting is one-hour long. No previous meditation experience is necessary, and people are not required to read aloud or share, if they are not comfortable doing so.

Service work at Refuge looks different depending on which volunteer position you look at. Meeting Secretaries are responsible for opening and closing the meeting room, setting up and taking down the meeting, making tea, and facilitating the meeting. Secretaries also provide meditation instruction during the meeting, or delegate this to another member. Mentors offer time and guidance to those just starting out in the program – this is typically done on a one-on-one basis. We also have a group treasurer that collects and manages donations. There is plenty of opportunity for members to get involved and volunteer, which is great.

  • What are some challenges working/volunteering at Refuge Recovery?

Meeting safety, accessibility and inclusion, and burnout prevention would most likely be the main challenges. The volunteers in our group are working hard at finding ways to make meetings as safe and accessible as possible. These topics are also being discussed at the Board-level.

Volunteering and mentoring can cause burnout, so we all must remain mindful of our own capacities to help others, and always try to look after ourselves first. Finding balance can be challenging, but we work at it consistently. Group support is great for this.

  • Are there any new projects you are working on at the moment?

Refuge Recovery Beltline is hoping to offer a retreat or workshop in the future with a Buddhist teacher based out of Portland. He started one of the very first Refuge Recovery meetings! We are also working on organizing more social events, like movie nights and potlucks.

  • Is your organization hosting any events coming up soon that folks might be interested in?

Check out our website, Facebook and/or Instagram for upcoming events!

  • Where can folks go for more information about your organization?

Facebook – Refuge Recovery Beltline

Instagram – @RefugeRecoveryBeltline

Main Website –

Beltline Website (including current meeting schedule)

Email –
– You can request to join our email list to get notifications about upcoming events.

Casino Fundraiser May 15 & 16, 2018 – Volunteers Needed!

Our next fundraising casino is coming up Tuesday May 15 & Wednesday May 16 at Elbow River Casino (218 18 Ave SE)​. To sign-up for a shift, or for more info, please contact​ ​ 

Position descriptions can be found below.

CommunityWise will cover taxi costs if needed. Food will be provided at the casino.

This is our​ ​biggest fundraiser of the year and funds raised go toward keeping our building operating and​ ​ensuring access to affordable and equitable community space. It’s also a way to meet other CommunityWise members!

Overview of Casino Positions

General Manager: 

Responsible for the overall continuity of the casino.  Makes sure all volunteer staff arrive and if not, has access to reliable back-up volunteer phone numbers.  Some data entry experience is required.  Can fill in for any volunteer positions for a short period (not a complete shift) of time if needed.


In control of the cash and chip inventories.  This position is mostly data entry.


Redeems players’ chips for cash.  Little data entry required.


Delivers chips from the Banker to the game tables as required.  Will count chips with the gaming floor staff as required.  A fair amount of data entry is required.

Count Room Supervisor:

The count room supervisor is responsible for all count room staff and procedures. The count room supervisor reports to the general manager, and works with the general manager and banker.

Countroom Staff: 

Will sort and use money counting machines to count money.  Some data entry required.

Calgary’s Women of Colour Collective (WOCC)

Calgary’s Women of Colour Collective (WOCC)

By the 1980’s, the women’s movement was a recognized movement working to gain equal rights for women in the workplace and beyond, but something the movement did not address was that the fight for equality was vastly different for women of colour.

When it comes to discrimination, marginalization, and oppression, women of colour face it on more fronts and in a much deeper way than white women. In the women’s movement, the voices of women of colour were being silenced and pushed down because at that time the general feeling was that the mention of colour related discrimination would detract from the overall message of equality for women.

The attitude that women of colour should take a backseat and accept being silenced inside of the women’s movement is why the Women Of Colour Collective (WOCC) was created in 1987. WOCC was born from the Calgary Status of Women Action Committee that was already active in Calgary. The Calgary Status of Women Action Committee worked to raise awareness and educate the public on a wide range of women’s issues. WOCC saw that although the women’s movement set out to address issues of gender equality, the issue of racial equality had to be a part of the movement because while making advancements for white women, there was no change for women of colour. “WOCC members wanted to challenge both hetero-normative assumptions in the women of colour community, as well as white privilege in the local feminist community, which they felt was endemic in Calgary” writes Kevin Allen, research lead of the Calgary Gay History Project[1].

WOCC felt that in order to create change for all women there needed to be a focus on the issues that specifically related to women of colour. They wanted to refocus the issues of racial inequality by bringing their members’ voices of lived experience to the conversation. To achieve this, they supported their members in various ways including holding supportive group meetings, building race-related survival skills, convening community conversations about related topics (including issues brought up through the media like the treatment of Rodney King[2]), providing peer advocacy for navigating through social services, healthcare, and justice systems, and at times even providing funds for members who need assistance with basic needs. WOCC members felt that the only way to hear the voices of women of colour was to remove some of the barriers that women of colour face.

At its inception, WOCC held meetings in members’ homes, but as the membership grew they needed to move into a bigger space. That is when they became members of CommunityWise Resource Centre (formerly called The Old Y Centre for Community Organizations).

CommunityWise did more than just offer WOCC the space they needed to run their organization and hold meetings and support groups. Having a physical location with dedicated phone lines and secure doors gave WOCC a level of security that it unfortunately ended up needing. As the group grew its strength and numbers threats started coming to the group and its leaders.

It would take more than threats to deter WOCC and its members. Amongst its accomplishments, WOCC co-hosted the Herland Film Festival. The Herland Feminist Film Festival started in 1989 when the Status of Women Action Committee joined with the Women of Colour Collective to host a film festival style fundraiser, and it was a very successful venture. Today it is part of the archive at the Glenbow Museum[3].

Many grassroots groups and organizations have built on the work and success of WOCC. One of the most forward thinking things that was spurred on by the voices that WOCC supported was a group devoted to white women exploring their own privilege and how that privilege impacted their belief systems and values.

After ten years of bringing the voices of women of colour to the table, WOCC closed their doors; but the work they started continues. You can see examples of it in many of the organizations present at CommunityWise today, including the work being done by the Anti-Racist Organizational Change (AROC) Working and Advisory Groups.

[1] “The Of Colour Collective”, Calgary Gay History Project

[2] Rodney King, Wikipedia

[3] herland feminist film festival fonds, Glenbow Museum

This story was researched and written by Susan Gwynn. We are indebted to Janet Yee, a co-founder of WOCC, for talking the time to speak with us about her time with the collective.

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 that 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.

Member Spotlight: CECA

Calgary Ethiopian Community Association

(December 2017)

Interviewer: Agnes Odera, CommunityWise – Practicum Student.

Interviewee: Shilemat Birhanu, Calgary Ethiopian Community Association – Head of Organization.

What is the name of your organization?

  • Calgary Ethiopian Community Association (CECA)

"Bringing Ethiopians together since 1982"

Can you summarize what your organization’s main objectives are? What is your mission/vision/value(s) that your organization abides by

  • Our main objective is sponsorship- the sponsorship of Ethiopian people and assisting them with integration.
  • Our mission is to create a sense of community (membership, ownership, and participation) among Ethiopians, and to enhance their settlement and integration into Canadian society.
  • CECA is a non-political, non-religious organization. Its programs and social services are provided without taking on political affiliation or any biases towards ethnicity, race, gender, and age.

How has your organization changed over time? In the past 35 years weave had many changes in memberships as well as leaderships.

  • Our organization is volunteer based, and we operate on a part-time schedule, thus, we are constantly evolving. In the past few years, the organization has become a liaison between government institutions, other non-profit organizations and any other interest groups, as well as members of our association.

What is it like working/volunteering at CECA? What is a typical day?

  • As stated above, we are a volunteer based organization that runs part-time.
  • We provide forums for Ethiopians to practice their cultural traditions as well be involved in matters of diversity and intercultural dialogue

What are some challenges working/volunteering at CECA?

  • Work can be hard at times due to the hours of operation. Consequently, we are trying to make CECA more productive while changing the organizational structure. Thus, we hope to see more growth in the years to come.

Are there any new projects you are working on at the moment?

  • CECA is currently working on creating networks and programs for the various age demographics of its members. We are looking at developing a Seniors Program and Youth Network.
  • We are hoping to expand into our own space where more programs can be established.

Is your organization hosting any events coming up soon that folks might be interested in?

  • The youths are currently working on some Christmas and New Year events.
  • We are also planning a celebration for our 35th year anniversary; this will be in February 2018.

Where can folks go for more information about your organization?


201 – 223 12 Avenue SW

Calgary, Alberta T2P 4J1

Operation hours: Saturdays and Sundays 2 pm to 6 pm

Personal Contact:

Shilemat Birhanu


CECA Secretary:

Tina Ashenafi

Member Spotlight: SMART Recovery Calgary

SMART Recovery

 (November 2017)

Interviewer: Agnes Odera, CommunityWise – Practicum Student.

Interviewee: Scott McKenzie, SMART Recovery – Director of Operations.

1.What is the name of your organization?

The name of our organization is SMART Recovery. SMART stands for Self-Management-And- Recovery-Training.  We are a self-help program that was established for ending addictive behaviours through abstinence based on science, reason, and humanistic values. We are an international non-profit organization run by both professionals and well trained volunteers.

2. Can you summarize what your organization’s main objectives are? What is your mission/vision/value(s) that your organization abides by?

Our main objective at SMART Recovery is to provide support and a scientific alternative for people who are seeking independence from alcohol, drugs, gambling, and other forms of substance abuse and addictive behaviours.

Our Program is Based on:

  1. Choice
  2. Personal Responsibility
  3. Proven Principles of Change
  4. Unconditional Self-Acceptance
  5. Science, Reason, and Humanist Values

Our 4-Point Program:

  1. Enhance and maintain motivation to abstain
  2. Cope with urges
  3. Manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviour
  4. Balance momentary and enduring satisfactions

3. How has your organization changed over time?

Our program has grown from one meeting a week with 4 to 5 participants to 7 meetings a week with 10 to 40 participants in attendance. Over the years, SMART has expanded to Airdrie, Red Dear, Edmonton, as well as other cities across Canada and we will continue to expand.

4. What is it like working/volunteering at  SMART Recovery, What is a typical day?

SMART is a free self-help program that holds 7 meetings per week. As noted earlier, we are a science based self-help program. Thus, two of the programs that we run are based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). We are a non-confrontational ran program and our participants come from all walks of life.

Our weekly meetings are held at CommunityWise Resource Centre on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays (7:00 pm to 8:30 pm) as well as Saturdays (10:00 am to 11:30)

5). What are some challenges working/volunteering at SMART Recovery?

It is always a challenge to maintain a strong core of trained volunteer facilitators and finding suitable meeting locations to hold meetings. Due to the number of participants, we are always in need of volunteers.

 6). Are there any new projects you are working on at the moment?

SMART has recently introduced The Family and Friends Support Program, which helps families and friends who are affected by the addictions of loved ones. Though this program is fairly new, it attracts over 20 participants per meeting.

7). Is your organization hosting any events coming up soon that folks might be interested in?

SMART holds various presentations at Alberta Health Services Facilities. We are often present at the Renfrew Recovery Centre and the Landers Treatment center, in Claresholm, Alberta. We also have regular presentations at the University of Calgary and have been a part of Recovery Day Calgary.

8). Where can folks go for more information about your organization?

For more information on SMART Recovery and Tools for Recovery go to: or

For lists of local meetings: www.smartrecovery/meetungsdb/view/

For online meetings:

Locations and Contacts:

  • CommunityWise Resource Centre
  •         223-12th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB
  • Wellness Centre at South Health Campus
  •        4448 Front Street SE, Calgary, AB
  • For more information, contact Curtis at 403-619-4210