“Each moment is a chance for us to make peace with the world, to make peace possible for the world, to make happiness possible for the world.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
There are so many ways to mark Remembrance Day as a unit. If you’re looking for activities to add to your plans, check out the Guiding Remembers Instant Meeting, inspired by British Columbia Council’s Guiding Remembers Challenge. Activities like Stories of Service, Voices of Veterans and In Flanders Fields will help girls reflect on the idea of remembrance in their own way and acknowledge the efforts of Canadian veterans of the past and present.
Want a different angle? Try the Canadian Women of Valour Instant Meeting, modified from Alberta (ANY) Council’s instant meeting of the same name and updated in partnership with Valour Canada. This package of hands-on activities like Ration Recipes and Wartime Women gives a glimpse into the roles Canadian girls and women played in the First and Second World Wars.
(De plus, ces réunions éclairs sont aussi disponibles en Français!)
Did you know…? Since Remembrance Day activities fall in the Canadian Connections Theme, if you also try the Local Communities Badge-in-a-Box, you’ll have covered two themes and earned your Connect and Question Program Area badge! To learn more about earning badges, see “How the Program Works”.
Share your Remembrance Day plans and activity examples on social media and spread the word to other girls and Guiders using the hashtag #GirlGuidesofCanada
Xyra, a Brownie from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, was excited and surprised when she learned she was a 2020 Change Maker Award recipient. She had no idea some of her Guiding friends had nominated her for the award – though it’s no wonder they did! As a volunteer wildlife rescue team member, 9-year-old Xyra has made a huge impact on the lives of animals in Saskatchewan.
Xyra has always had a passion for animals and the outdoors. As a Brownie, she loved all the experiences she had in nature, like making her own compost bin with red wiggler worms, spotting a snake on a hike, and camping. Her ultimate dream? One day, she hopes to open up her own wildlife sanctuary.
Wanting to take her passion for animals to the next level, Xyra reached out to her provincial wildlife rehabilitation society with help from her mom (who’s also a Guider!). They were happy to welcome Xyra as a volunteer alongside her mom. Wildlife rescue is amazing, but it can also be difficult, sad, and even dangerous – so having a trusted, responsible adult with you is important.
Her favourite experience to date has been helping a baby racoon. One night, Xyra and her mom received a call to pick up a baby raccoon from someone who had illegally trapped it a few months prior and then tried to keep her as a pet, but later decided to hand the raccoon over to a rehabilitator so she could learn to be wild.
While waiting for a ride to the rehab facility, Xyra and her mom cared for the racoon in their house for two nights. Because she’d been kept as a pet, the raccoon wasn’t used to being in a kennel and kept trying to escape. The rehabilitator advised them that to better help this particular raccoon, she could be let out to socialize since she was used to living with people. This was a unique situation – raccoons should never be handled except with expert guidance from a veterinarian or a licensed rehabilitator. Xyra and her mom were careful to always thoroughly wash their hands before and after handling the raccoon.
Xyra and the raccoon became fast friends, and the raccoon even fell asleep on Xyra a few times! When the time came to bring the raccoon to the rehab centre, it was very difficult for Xyra say goodbye to her new friend. But Xyra knew that the raccoon deserved a chance at life in the wild, which is exactly where a raccoon belongs!
Xyra’s hope for everyone reading her story? That they will want to take care of animals, to help animals in need, and to let wild animals stay wild.
Girl Guides of Canada’s Change Maker Award recognizes girls in Guiding as they take actions, small or large, local or international, community based or far-reaching. Each year, 20 girls from Sparks to Rangers are chosen. Check out the full list of this year’s recipients to read their amazing stories.
Every year the Change Maker Award recognizes girls who are making a difference in Guiding and creating a better world through community service, friendship, and advocacy. The award highlights girls across all branches, who are taking actions, small or large, local or international, community based or far-reaching.
The Change Maker Award recognizes and encourages girls who are making an impact and celebrates girls’ confidence, resiliency, and independence. It’s a chance to shine a spotlight on outstanding girls for the whole Guiding community to see. The award builds self-esteem and encourages friendship because girls can choose to nominate themself or another girl in Guiding. Girls’ actions make a difference in the lives of other girls and impact their communities – it’s important that we recognize all the ways they’re making change.
From forming inclusive friendships to monitoring waterways, each of this year’s award recipients is making a difference in unique ways. Let’s meet a few of this year’s deserving recipients:
Malina, a Spark from Edmonton, Alberta, makes an effort to be inclusive and play with anyone who may not have any friends. If there’s a new child at school, she’s the first to hold their hand and play with them on the playground so that they don’t feel nervous. She goes to a special speech therapy school and loves to help her friends if they are ever having trouble with words by encouraging them to try again. She’s even learning sign language so she can communicate with many of her friends at school. Great work, Malina!
Charlee, a Guide from Campbell River, British Columbia, loves all animals and helps care for the environment and her community. Charlee is a part of a local group called Greenways, which takes care of local waterways. Charlee is known in this group as a Stream Keeper. She participates in stream walks to make sure that everything is flowing like it should. She also works with the local hatchery to complete salmon counts and intakes. Charlee was recently recognized by her mayor as a result of her ongoing efforts as a Stream Keeper in the community of Campbell River, which is known as the salmon capital of the world. Charlee not only helps the environment, but also her local community by keeping their streams healthy. That’s pretty amazing Charlee!
Alyssa, a Ranger from Brooklyn, Ontario, is an advocate for climate change who takes pride in saving our environment and the ground we walk on. She co-founded both a local chapter of Fridays for Future and Sustainability Durham, which has organized and led shoreline clean ups, clothing swaps and more projects in her local community. Alyssa really stands out in her unit – she has the motivation and drive to inspire others to make a difference in our world. She’s been an active leader within her unit with women in politics by helping to explain and lead the future voters challenge in fun and easy ways. She firmly believes we need to give a voice to ourselves and is an inspiring advocate to help other girls understand how they can make a difference by voting. Alyssa constantly works hard to make an impact through her own actions and shows initiative. Thanks to Alyssa for being a Change Maker!
Ella, a Ranger from Port Moody, British Columbia, has been actively contributing towards her community. At school, she currently runs and facilitates the Kodiak Konversations Club, helping English as an Additional Language (EAL) students to gain confidence in communicating in English through various activities. As a head executive, she feels devoted to this club as she has experience being an EAL student herself, and thus understands others’ hardships and the importance of supporting one another. Ella also launched a project to help students struggling to plan for their future after graduation. Ella was in a similar boat and felt clueless in terms of career choices as she ascended to her senior years of high school. In grade 11, she started the Pathfinder Project, interviewing people with different careers in her community and sharing their stories online for other students to get inspired. She has also volunteered as a Girl Assistant to spread knowledge and to empower young Sparks. Congrats on all the great work Ella!
These are only some of the 2020 recipients. Find the full list on our website and read all their extraordinary stories!
I was a first-year university student when I signed up for a course that included a requirement of 10 hours of community service. “What a great time to get back to Guiding!” I thought to myself. I had been a Spark, Brownie, Guide, Pathfinder, and Junior Leader, but having taken a couple years away from Guiding, I decided it was time to return.
On the occasion of National Volunteer Week , I’m prompted to think about what volunteering with Guiding means to me. What makes so many of us stick around, year after year? What makes Guiding feel like more than just another community service gig? What is it about watching a Brownie tie her first bedroll or watching a Ranger take charge that gives us so much joy?
I am constantly amazed by the girls I work with. They are proud Guides and proud feminists, passionate about evoking change in the world. When I look at the girls I’ve come to know through Guiding, I feel a great sense of optimism. I see girls and women who want to support and build each other up, rather than tear each other down. I see girls who are empathic and accepting, who understand the imperative need for diversity, acceptance, and critical kindness. I see girls who are engaged with issues of social justice, equity, and human rights.
I volunteer because it brings me into contact with some of the most magical people on our planet: girls. Girls who remind me it can be fun to experiment, get messy, and play; girls who have taught me about the power of make-believe, friendship, and teamwork; and girls who have shown me incredible courage and strength while learning who they are, defining their values, and finding their voice. Today’s world is different, and today’s girl is different, too. I am glad I can walk beside her, holding her hand and having her back, as she learns to navigate the world.
I’m proud to be a volunteer and proud to be a part of an organization that constantly seeks to provide a safe, inclusive, and relevant space for today’s girl. For me, Guiding is more than volunteer service. It’s friendship, community, sisterhood, and inspiration. It’s the Brownie you meet again as a Ranger, and the Ranger you now call a friend. Ten years and certainly more than 10 hours later, I’m still here, swinging along the road with a pack on my back and Guiding in my heart.
Rachel Collins is Youth Forum Coordinator for Ontario Council and a Pathfinder Guider in Guelph.
Black History Month is a time for us to celebrate Black Canadians who, throughout history, have contributed immensely to Canada in different fields, and those who continue to do so today. In honour of Black History Month, we’d love to introduce you to the 91st Toronto Guiding Unit.
Every week, these girls get together at the Lawrence Heights Community Centre in West Toronto, a hub of activities and a buzzing gathering place for those who call the area home. The neighbourhood is a vibrant community with approximately 36,000 residents, most of whom are newcomers to Canada, and the majority of whom are Black. One of the ways Guiding is striving to become more accessible to all girls in Canada is by partnering with community organizations to bring Guiding to neighbourhoods that have previously not had units. In turn, we gain the opportunity to learn from the girls and the community about how collaboration and partnership can strengthen what Guiding has to offer. For example, we have learned that some of our approaches to programming need to be tailored to take into consideration the realities of racialized girls.
Sean Morrison, who leads many of the centre’s recreational activities, saw the positive impact that Guiding could have on the girls who regularly go the centre’s different programs. When asked about the partnership with Girl Guides, he said, “Cooperation is essential in moving any idea forward. An individual can construct the idea, but cooperation is the only thing that can move that idea forward.”
For Black girls like those in Lawrence Heights, there can be a lot of negative stereotypes thrown their way – both because they are Black, and because they are girls. The Girl Guide unit’s Guiders understand the importance of intentionally creating the kind of space where these girls can celebrate their identity, culture and history.
Black History Month is exactly the kind of important celebration of culture and history that these Guiders want to ensure the girls have a space to contribute to. When the Guiders asked: “Does anyone know what happens in February?”, most of the girls immediately knew that it was Black History Month. When asked how they wanted to celebrate with their unit, the girls suggested different field trips to places like a fun indoor playground. The Guiders admit they were a bit surprised at this answer, but they wanted to ensure they honoured the girls’ voices and girl-driven practices. As Black girls, this is how they wanted to celebrate their culture and history. So, for this unit celebrating Black History Month means celebrating yourself and doing what makes you feel awesome.
How does your unit celebrate Black History Month? If you’re looking for ideas, try these:
Look up and learn about Black Canadian women who have been a part of and contributed to Guiding such as Wanda Robson, Rosey Ugo Edeh, and Frances Atwell.
All through Girl Guides, we encourage girls to take action to protect the planet, and that mantra has slowly started making its way into other parts of my life. After making some changes at home this summer I started thinking about just how much plastic waste we create in our units on a weekly basis. There’s lot of things we might not think about – between balloons at enrolment, fun foam hearts on Valentine’s Day, plastic plates and crafts made from Styrofoam cups, we use and throw out more plastic than we realize each year in our units.
When we asked our Brownies what areas
they wanted to focus on this year and what they were interested in, they all said
they wanted to learn more about the environment and protecting the animals that
live in it. This wasn’t a surprise to us
as youth are spearheading the climate change movement by taking part in things
like the climate strike and speaking out for the future of our planet.
Reducing the amount of plastic you
use or choosing to go plastic-free can be overwhelming in the beginning. It can
also seem expensive with all the new items on the market (fabric table cloths
and napkins, reusable shopping bags, stainless steel straws, fancy reusable
jars and coffee cups) but many of these items can be made by girls themselves or
done away with all together.
Here are some ideas tips to get you on your way to a
plastic-free party or meeting:
Ask your girls for ideas on going plastic-free! They will have tons of ideas on how to reduce their plastic consumption in meetings.
Evaluate whether an item is necessary or if you can do without it (do you really need glitter on that craft?). Let girls lead the way with deciding what materials they want to use.
Have the girls bring in their camp dishes to meetings where you are serving food.
Create reusable decorations that you can use year after year like the better than balloons activity, these could be as simple as glass jar lanterns with candles in them or paper lanterns (these can be folded down small for storage).
Reconsider making disposable (throw away) crafts – make a craft that can be used again later, such as decorating cutlery to use at camp, make sit-upons, sew little bags to carry dues, reusable book or grocery bags from t-shirts or beeswax wraps.
When it comes to making sure Girl Guides is the place where every girl feels she belongs, it’s important to go straight to the experts – girls themselves. For a second year, the Girls’ Voice Survey (GVS) was sent out to girl members at the end of the Guiding year. This is one of the ways we try to capture the experiences of Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) members on their journey through Guiding. A total of 5,593 girl members across Canada (including 4,354 parents of Spark, Brownie and Guide members) responded to the survey.
We received feedback on a range of topics, as well as girls’ very first experiences in Guiding, like this one from a Spark Parent in Alberta: “We absolutely loved our first experience with Girl Guides, and I wouldn’t change a thing!” We also heard comments about GGC’s ‘secret sauce’ of providing safe spaces, from a Pathfinder in Quebec, who said “…this is a safe space where I can engage with others and speak my mind.”
Why a Girls’ Voice Survey?
Maybe the better question to ask is why not a girls’ voice survey? To help support girls to be #EverythingSheWantsToBe, GGC’s girl-driven approach puts the experiences and opinions of girls front and centre. The insights provided by girl members and their parents on member satisfaction (like how girls feel about Guiding) and from the program platform (like user experience and if program outcomes are met) are invaluable. This information helps GGC adapt, change, and move forward in making Guiding as relatable, relevant, innovative and fun as possible for girls.
What girls are saying about Girl Guides
Girls told us a lot about their Guiding experience. Both parents and girls (93%) told us they largely have positive attitudes towards all aspects of their Guiding experience. Girl Guides is a place where:
89% of girls feel they can be themselves
87% of girls feel they are proud to be in Guiding
84% of girls learn a lot
80% of girls feel they are learning leadership skills
When we read comments by a Pathfinder from B.C. that say, “I feel at home when I’m at Guides, a place where I can be myself and have a bunch of great friends,” we know we’re providing girls with experiences that are valuable.
We also heard from girls and parents on areas where we can do better. Constructive feedback helps us improve the Guiding experience of girl members and their parents. A Ranger from Ontario said they would like “more province-wide activity days. I think that getting to know other Rangers would help me and others to understand our place in Guiding.” Reading about ideas that foster active citizenship within the Guiding community is helpful when it comes to planning activities and programming.
A parent of a Spark from Alberta would like to see GGC “offer mentors to new Guiders to ensure they can ask someone who knows how to do stuff.” Guiders spend a lot of time with girl members and it is important they’re equipped with the support and knowledge needed to lead successfully.
For more details on the Girls’ Voice survey, please check out highlights of the results on girlguides.ca.
Girls’ Voice Survey crest
Did you complete the survey but didn’t receive your limited-edition My Voice crest? If so, please email email@example.com for assistance.
By Jill Zelmanovits, CEO and Chief Listening Officer, Girl Guides of Canada
Hackers, encryption and cyber threats were once ideas relegated to dark basements and IT talk. Today, cybersecurity impacts every industry, every level of government and everyone with personal information stored online (that’s pretty much all of us). And one day in the near future, a Girl Guide might just be the one that protects you from a cyber attack.
At Girl Guides of Canada, we’ve always empowered girls with the relevant skills they need to excel. So it’s only natural we’d launch Digital Defenders, a new cybersecurity program developed in partnership with BlackBerry, to ensure girls are equipped for the tech landscape they live in – and the tech careers they aspire to. Through Digital Defenders, girls will understand the technology behind how to protect their devices and information online while also discovering how they can make their mark as future cybersecurity innovators.
tech-know girls, tomorrow’s tech heroes
Think a Girl Guide cybersecurity badge is a
radical idea? Think again. Girls are tech savvy and early adopters of
technology – and probably more creative than a lot of adults in adapting how
they use technology. With tech embedded into their daily lives, learning about
cyber threats is a necessary everyday skill for girls. In short, learning about
cybersecurity, malware, and hacking is just as relevant as learning how to change
a tire or how to save money.
Just as important as empowering girls to
navigate their world today is setting girls up to grab hold of the infinite opportunities
that await them. By giving girls a chance to develop their tech know-how,
Digital Defenders also offers an important entry point to ignite girls’
interest in different cybersecurity career fields. It’s not an encrypted secret
that there is a skills and gender gap in high tech fields. Jobs are going
unfilled and yet, according to Women in Cybersecurity Canada, women make up
only 10% of the cybersecurity workforce.
girls have told us they want careers where they can be creative and make the
world a better place. Digital Defenders enables girls to discover exactly what
they can carve out for themselves in a cybersecurity or tech career, and if
it’s the right fit for them. These are jobs that combine finding innovative
solutions, creatively tackling puzzles, relentlessly attacking a problem until
it’s solved – all to keep invaluable information, technology and people safe. Talk
about making a difference.
Of course, it’s worth repeating that girls can’t be what they don’t see, and they often don’t see enough women in high-tech jobs. Programs like Digital Defenders (created with the expert input of women cybersecurity experts at BlackBerry), introduce girls to the infinite possibilities that await them and serve as an important launch pad for girls to make a difference in their world through technology. If we want technology to have a positive impact on our world, then it is critical that girls are positioned to be the changemakers and tech-heroes of tomorrow.
Teenage girls in Pathfinders are all
kinds of amazing – spreading positivity and passion in little and big ways
every day. As Pathfinders celebrates its 40th anniversary, Girl
Guide volunteer Saffina shares six lessons the girls in her Pathfinder unit
teach her every week.
These girls bring their best selves to meetings. And it is a treat. After a long day at work, sometimes it can seem rather daunting to volunteer. Not with Girl Guides of Canada though. Not with Pathfinders. And definitely not with these girls. Despite a full day of school, drama, homework, extra-curriculars, and scarfing down dinner, my Pathfinders always show up ready to go. They always see an opportunity to learn, to play, and quite literally live their best life. They laugh. ALL THE TIME. And it is SO refreshing. I love being around their positive energy and spark. When I appear stressed out from work, they share jokes. When I forget an essential element to our meeting, they improvised.
They teach me to laugh every day and that you can find something positive in every situation.
It doesn’t matter if we are discussing feminism, immigration, climate change or cookies; Pathfinders care. A LOT. I have never witnessed such a young generation care so deeply about issues affecting all of us today. They care about the world. They are concerned for humankind. They want social justice. They want climate justice. They are knowledgeable and eager to learn more and do more. And do it with passion. Pathfinders challenge me and keep me on my toes, always pushing boundaries and seeking solutions.
Leave your comfort zone
Pathfinders are resilient. We go on adventures. Sometimes they are planned and sometimes they are not. Sometimes we don’t know where it will take us but we know we will be okay. We have gone on journeys through Vancouver and meandered the murals of Main Street. We went geo-trekking around the woods of Lighthouse Park and I was nervous about my first geo-trek, they took the lead. Pathfinders are daring, brave, creative. They are leaders.
We can conquer the world
Even as an adult, I often feel defeated. Though I try to be a good person and live with kindness and compassion in pursuit of a more just world – basically abide by the Guiding promise – sometimes it feels really hard. But when I am with the Pathfinders, I remember that we can all still create change – big or small – we can make a difference. They believe so strongly in themselves and in the goodness of others and inspire me to continue to challenge myself and others to continue to learn and grow together.
It is okay to eat Girl Guide cookies for dinner once in a while.
I think this is self-explanatory!
Despite my youthful good looks, I am a tad older than the Pathfinders of my unit. That being said, I’d like to think I am very “woke” and “with it.” Evidently, I am not. My Pathfinder unit taught be about Instagram and the power of social media. It is such a great tool to reach many people and spread a positive message, and that is exactly what they do on their social media platforms. It has also been useful in meetings and an interesting way to connect with them on their level. I was so inspired, I too now have the “‘gram.”
I look forward to growing with these girls
and trying new things (while chowing down on cookies and posting on the
Guest post by Saffina Jinnah, a Pathfinder Guider in Vancouver. “I have been involved with the Girl Guiding movement since “I promise[d] to share and be a friend.” You can usually find me sipping dark coffee and listening to Taylor Swift while planning Girl Guide meetings and events. If I am not guiding, I am usually traveling, planning to travel, reading, or eating copious amounts of Girl Guide cookies.”
You can celebrate Pathfinders’ 40th Anniversary with our limited-edition hoodies, shirts and a crest!
Want to know
the secret formula for creating amazing adventures for girls and how you can do
it, too? Give girls a starring role in planning your event right from the get
go. At Ontario’s recent LEAP camp, that’s exactly what they did – with girl
members playing a key role on their planning team every step of the way. It’s
just one of the ways Girl Guides is ensuring girls have the chance to flex
their leadership muscles – through meaningful leadership roles that help create
experiences that are totally girl-driven.
We spoke with a
girl member and adult volunteer from the LEAP camp planning team to learn how
girls and women worked together to create a memorable camp experience.
LEAP looked like a lot of fun – what’s something you were involved in planning that you saw come to life at camp that you’re really proud of?
Mira: Most people probably wouldn’t think it was that exciting, but one of the proudest moments during LEAP was the first meal. Seeing the dining marquee full to the brim with smiling and laughing campers made all the logistics and planning really worth it!
Katelyn: Going into LEAP we wanted to ensure that every possible aspect of camp was girl focused. I think that the aspect of camp that I am most proud of is the programming we had at LEAP. When we first began planning for LEAP the other members of the Youth Forum and I put together a dream/wish list of what we thought would be really amazing program ideas. From there the program team continued to work with us every step of the way to ensure that the programming remained girl driven and it was absolutely amazing to see it all come to life.
The planning committee had both girls and adults on it – how did that make for a better camp experience for girls?
Mira: The Youth Forum members on the Hub definitely helped make LEAP more girl driven and tailored to girls’ interests since a lot of ideas and initiatives at camp came from their peers.
Katelyn: I can say with confidence that LEAP 2019 was a girl-driven and girl-focused camp. Our HUB team was made up of seven adult members and two girl members, and worked closely with the Ontario and Nunavut Youth Forum, thus ensuring that girls were at the center of it all. We strived to ensure that each girl’s camp experience would not only be fun but it would be empowering, challenge girls to step outside of their comfort zone, try something new and would make for an amazing memories to come home with. As girl members we have a unique expertise and offered a new perspective which I believe is what made LEAP so incredibly exceptional for girls.
What do you think are the keys to making youth-adult shared leadership work?
Mira: I think it is crucial to treat the youth on the team the same as the adults: ensure they have equal opportunity to contribute as well as equal accountability. Paired with understanding that they may not have the experience and self-assuredness as the adult members and encouragement when that is the case, this demonstrates that you take the youth seriously and allows for more learning and development for both youth and adults.
Katelyn: Respect is the most important thing to have when working on a team, and can make a youth-adult shared leadership team an amazing experience. Although there are many different aspects that can ensure that a youth-adult team work, my top five:
Mutual understanding and respect.
Keeping an open mind.
Being willing to lend a helping hand and take initiative.
Why do you think it’s important to have girls in leadership roles in Guiding?
Mira: In cases of event planning, having girls on the team does provide guidance on what programming and structure will be best suited to the girls. On a broader scale however, there are so many benefits to having girls in leadership. Perhaps one of the most important, is that it encourages older girls and young women to stay involved in Guiding. They are given opportunities to directly affect the way Guiding is done, build connections with the strong role models they work with, and are exposed firsthand to the sorts of roles they can play as an adult member.
Katelyn: I think that it is exceptionally important for girl members to have leadership roles within Guiding. Involving girl members in not only in the planning of events like LEAP but involving them in more general leadership roles within Guiding helps to ensure that Guiding remains girl-driven, presents girls with new opportunities to grow, can help to act as a girl retention tool and keep Guiding relevant. (Especially since no one knows more about what girls want out of Guiding than the girl members themselves!)
Would you do it again/suggest others do
Mira: I would definitely do it again and certainly recommend that more teams draw on girl perspectives and give opportunities to youth both in Guiding and beyond.
Katelyn: 100%, absolutely, a thousand times over yes! I can honestly say that LEAP was one of the most amazing, incredible, words can not even describe it type of experiences. LEAP challenged me in the best ways imaginable, teaching me to be adaptable, more of a problem solver, and how to react in high pressure situations.
Katelyn was the Youth Forum Lead on Ontario and Nunavut’s Council LEAP 2019. She volunteers with a Guide unit and recently earned her Gold Trailblazer Award.
Mira is Link member and is studying Math and Philosophy at the University of Toronto.
Girls! Want to find out how you can get involved in leadership roles at Girl
Guides? Check out www.girlguides.ca/GirlsLead for ways to
take your role in Guiding to the next level. Go to the
Build Skills section and also check out the Girls Lead hub on the Program
Adult volunteers! Looking to recruit girls for your team or committee? Need some support in making your committee a space to share leadership among girls and adults? Check out this Girl Engagement training on Member Zone and reach out to the Girl Engagement team at firstname.lastname@example.org for support. We can deliver remote session to your teams to help you in your journey toward shared leadership with youth.
On October 21, people across Canada will head to the polls to cast their vote in the federal election. The youth vote can make a big difference: in this election, millennials are the biggest bloc of eligible voters at 37%.
But Abacus Data research commissioned by Girl Guides of Canada and nine other youth-serving organizations found that in the past 12 months, almost half of Canada’s youth have not had a conversation about politics or political issues.
engaged with the election can have a huge impact. To get inspired, we talked to
three Girl Guides of Canada members who are engaged and excited to be voting in
a federal election for the first time. Sarah Harrison, 21, is voting in the
Halifax riding. Carly Russell, 21, is voting in Banff-Airdrie. And Amy Topshee,
18, is voting in Vancouver.
Why are you excited to vote in a federal
election for the first time?
“I’m excited to
vote in this election because I feel like my voice is going to be heard. For
the first time, I am no longer sitting on the sidelines of these conversations
that matter.” – Carly
“I was just a
couple of months away from turning 18 during the last federal election. So, I
have been waiting for a while for the opportunity to vote for the first time! I
am excited to be able to have my say in who I want to represent my riding and,
indirectly, lead the country.” – Sarah
What do you think the most important
issue should be in the federal election?
“I believe that
climate change is the most important issue of the federal election. Science has
been telling us that we are facing a climate crisis, and if we do not take
action now then we will face disastrous effects including but not limited to
more frequent natural disasters, a rise in health problems, and economic
disruption. I think that Canada could and should be a climate leader.” – Amy
most important issue of this election in my opinion is the federal government’s
relationship with the provincial governments! This might be my inner Albertan
answering this part; however, we need to look at how we are helping each other!
Canada and its provinces needs each other in order to thrive, and so we need to
make sure our relationships are stronger.” – Carly
Why do you think it’s important for
girls and young women to be engaged with and informed about the election?
“Girls and young
women need to vote in this election because it is 2019 and our voices matter!
Equality is something that we as a country can work towards but change first
starts with young women getting out and voting this year.” – Carly
adult voter turnout has historically been significantly lower than the voter
turnout overall. As young people, we have the ability to make our votes heard
in this election, but in order to do that we need to get informed and then
actually vote!” – Sarah
“I think it’s
important for all people to get engaged and informed about politics, even if
they can’t vote yet! Even those who are too young to vote should voice their
opinions.” – Amy
Do you have a message for other young
people who are eligible to vote for the first time?
“Do not take
our right to vote for guaranteed! Many people around the world do not have the
right to vote and influence the politics of their county. I am only able to
vote thanks to the trailblazing women who came before me. To show my
appreciation for all of their hard work I must exercise my democratic rights.”
would be to go and vote! Don’t think that just because there are a lot of
voters your vote doesn’t matter. It does! Take some time to research the issues
that are important to you and check the Elections Canada website for your
voting options.” – Sarah
just the ‘old boys club’! Form your own opinions and be ready to change
the world. Change starts with girls!” – Carly
Election day is October
21. To find information about your riding, candidates, and when and where to
vote, visit Elections Canada.
Sarah Harrison is a Brownie Guider and a
student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS.
Carly Russell is a Brownie and Ranger
Guider in Calgary, AB who is passionate about all things politics.
Amy Topshee is currently a bridging member
in Vancouver, BC. Throughout her 13 years in Guiding, she has travelled to
Switzerland, Scotland, and Iceland, and served on the National Travel
Sarah, Carly, and Amy are all members of Wave Makers, GGC’s new youth spokesperson team.
By Jill Zelmanovits, CEO and Chief Listening Officer, Girl Guides of Canada
Remember that priceless piece of career advice a friend or mentor gave you? Chances are, they leaned in with that bit of wisdom in person and not in a text, DM or social media post. In an era of infinite ways to connect digitally, in-person connections still reign supreme – in terms of benefit and impact. At Girl Guides of Canada, we’ve been helping girls build their network of peers and women mentors since long before words like ‘networking’ and ‘mentoring’ were corporate catchphrases. On International Day of the Girl (October 11), our new report In Real Life (IRL) Matters reveals why it’s essential to support girls in building real-life connections.
In the first study of its kind on the social capital of Canadian youth, Girl Guides asked girls about their sense of belonging and whether they feel supported and connected to the communities where they live. What we discovered is that not only how girls are interacting is changing significantly – girls report having 3.3 in real life (IRL) close friends on average and 13.5 online-only friends – but that it’s a shift we need to pay attention to. The study reveals that girls with more in-person connections are more likely to feel like they are listened to, accepted and cared about and report they have a greater sense of belonging. Those who rely more on online connections don’t share the same level of optimism about the future or sense of having a network of friends or family that can support them.
So why do these findings matter? Well, we all have a role to play in helping create spaces for girls to have in-person relationships with peers and the adults in their lives. Teenage girls in particular are at a critical time in their lives – they have leadership roles to explore, careers to consider, choices to make. Mentoring and supporting these budding trailblazers as they start their career journey can have an immeasurable impact in propelling girls towards amazing opportunities with all the top skills and confidence, they’ll need to achieve their goals.
At Girl Guides, we see first-hand the powerful benefits of giving girls the opportunity to connect with women mentors of all backgrounds. Our volunteers come from all walks of life, from every imaginable career field. They listen to what matters to girls and create a collaborative team environment where everyone’s voice is valued. They inspire girls to not only see women as leaders, but also to see themselves as leaders – one mentoring moment at a time. Basically, the kind of mentoring program that career gurus recommend is exactly what girls find for themselves in Guiding – and what they need more of in this world.
Of course, it’s not just adult mentors that matter to girls. Building a solid peer network is important, too. When girls connect in real life, they build a solid foundation to support one another in immeasurable ways. We see this at Girl Guides all the time. It’s a 6-year-old Spark learning to tie her shoe and using her confidence to help another girl. It’s a 13-year-old Pathfinder discussing mental health with her unit and then reaching out to support a friend. Girls have pretty much nailed the secret formula for cheering each other on and empowering one another in moments big and small. What they need is adults to support and encourage them to make these real-life connections. (Bonus: when girls have the opportunity to support one another, they’ll carry these mentoring traits into their adult lives. It’s a ripple effect that goes on and on.)
It’s unlikely any of us got where we are without a mentor’s help and guidance. We don’t need to wait until girls are in career mode to give them the same mentoring opportunities. Helping them create those mentoring and peer networking moments now will make a real difference in creating a world where girls empower girls – and in turn go on to achieve extraordinary things.
Kenya. Paris. The Amazon. The Yukon. These are just some of the destinations you can explore when you go on a Girl Guides Nationally-Sponsored Trip. Wondering why you should apply? The reasons are endless – but we’re breaking it down for you in a top five list. (Pssst! You have until October 9 to apply for our current round of travel experiences.)
There’s a trip for every kind of explorer. Whether you want to get your adrenaline pumping white water rafting or exploring one of the world’s greatest cities is more your style, there’s a trip that’s right for you.
2. You can start scratching destinations off your bucket list. Whether you’re visiting somewhere new in Canada or heading off to another country on another continent, you can scratch your dream destinations off one amazing view at a time!
3. Make epic memories – and take epic photos. Travelling isn’t just about taking Instagram-worthy pics. (Although, obviously, you’ll be able to snap some amazing photos.) It’s about opening your eyes and seeing amazing places and stunning sights that make you see the world – and yourself – in a whole new way.
4. You’ll add new Guiding sisters to your squad. Whether you’re sharing a high-five after an amazing hike, digging into amazing new food or just seeing a new city together for the first time, you’ll make new friends who you’ll always feel connected with.
5. There’s a crest for that. Empowering. Challenging. Inspiring. And just plain awesome. Travelling with Girl Guides has it all that and more – including a crest. Every time someone asks you where you got your crest, you can tell them all about your out-of-this-world Nationally-Sponsored Trip experience with Guiding.
Wondering what it’s like to go on a Girl Guide trip? It’s E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Gabriella shares her recent experience in the Andes. Just in time for our Nationally-Sponsored Trip applications – closing October 9, 2019.
I got back from my Girl Guide trip to Ecuador a few weeks ago and my mind is still processing everything I experienced. From the moment I stepped off the plane, I could tell this would be different than any other school or family trip I could ever go on. Even though few of the girls on the trip had never met before, I could feel the almost immediate bond we all had.
The trip itself was absolutely incredible. Every activity we did from
the volunteer work and cultural experiences to making our own chocolate and
going on early-morning hikes in the Amazon was unique, inspiring, fun and even
challenging. But what made this trip truly special to me was the people. One of
my favourite moments was after a long day of working up in the Andes we were
surprised with a campfire! Being in a place that is so new to me and doing
something so familiar really makes you feel at home. Campfires are such a
special time, especially for anyone who’s been in Girls Guides and it was
really cool to learn some new songs to bring back to my unit as well as share
some old favourites.
It wasn’t just the girls on this trip that impacted me, but our trip leaders, and the local people. We went to visit a women’s artisan group sponsored by WE while in the Andes. They taught us about how to make and spin wool and we had the chance to hear stories about how things had changed in their community since WE had started working with them. They told us about how they could make a living and help support their children, and how, unlike themselves, their daughters could now finish high school and be independent. It was beyond inspiring, and for me it made me realize what I might like to do with my life is work for an NGO or something where I can help people.
Every place we went I felt immediately welcomed by the locals. One day I will always hold particularly dear to my heart was while working in the Amazon. It was incredibly hot. During our lunch break in an unfinished classroom, we noticed a group of children. They had been watching us all morning slowly getting closer and closer. When we brought out the soccer ball we had brought, they quickly showed us to the field to play a game. I’ve never considered myself a coordinated person and have actually never really liked soccer, but something about playing it on a muddy field while wearing knee high rubber boots in 40° C weather made it extremely fun, even if we were absolutely destroyed by the competition.
Meet our guest contributor: “Hi! I’m
Gabriella, I’ve been a Girl Guide for 12 out of the 16 years of my life.
I’ve had the privilege of literally growing up with wonderful leaders and a
great unit. Even when my life gets busy, as I also swim, row and have school,
Girl Guides has always been a place I can come to relax, have fun and be truly
Girl Guides is all about getting girls revved up for the limitless possibilities ahead of them. Find out how Emma and Mary hopped into the driver’s seat to test drive career options at the Toronto Honda Indy.
This past weekend we went to the Toronto Honda Indy with our mom and another Girl Guide Trex unit. As someone who LOVES cars (that’s me, Mary!), there is no better place to visit than the Indy. Since we’ve never been, this sounded like a lot of fun. We both loved the roar of the engines and all the action trackside!
What was really cool about this opportunity is that Girl Guides worked with FIA Women in Motorsport to put this amazing day together. We got to go behind the scenes and see that there are so many women involved in every aspect of the Indy. We met the assistant team manager for team Carlin, Silvia, who knew a lot about motorsport. Who knew there were so many opportunities for women in this sport, from the engineers to mechanics to marketing to being a driver. Silvia taught us about the different parts of the cars, the different flags used at the race and introduced us to members of team Carlin. We then left the paddock area where all of the teams were and went outside to the track.
We watched the cars in action
from trackside as they raced the qualifying races for the Indy. It was AMAZING!
It was so cool to see how quick the team could change tires and check the cars
and send it back out onto the track to continue racing. After the races
we went back inside and had the opportunity to visit team Carlin again. This
time we met one of the drivers, Charlie Kimball. He knew so much! He let us
hold the steering wheel (which was crazy expensive) and check out all of the
different parts of the car.
This day was just so
unbelievable. Thank you Girl Guides for giving us this opportunity, we will
never forget it!
Guest post by Emma and Mary. They’re from Toronto and have been involved in Guiding in various branches for as long as they can remember. Their favourite thing about Guiding is all of the different opportunities they’ve been able to do, from camping, to being part of photo shoots, to going to the air show, and now the Toronto Indy – all with their mom.
Thank you to Women in Motorsport Canada for inviting members of GGC to the Honda Indy! Girls learned first-hand the careers and opportunities open to them in motorsport, and met amazing women role models who provided lots of inspiration.
No lie – joining the National Youth Council has been a life-changing experience for each and every one of us. There have been so many skills learned, memories made, and laughs had. Working with these girls and being able to make a real difference in the organization is an experience that none of us will forget. This council has given us a platform to speak up on issues that matter to us and to other girls. Girl Guides has given us a place where our voice is heard and valued.
We’ve met amazing people who are dedicating their time and energy to creating a better world for girls Throughout our time on the National Youth Council, we’ve had the opportunity to meet dozens of amazing people, from the wonderful women on the Board of Directors to the girls in our own communities. These inspirational figures have motivated us to work towards achieving our own goals and passions. Everyone is committed to the goal of creating a better world for girls and by girls – and it shows through all of the time they take out of their busy lives to be a part of this amazing organization.
Forced out of our comfort zone – in a good way! We’ve had to do many things that have frightened us, but the youth council has been there to support us along the way from speaking as a part of a panel at the youth forum and getting up and presenting to the Board to speaking to other Girl Guides on behalf of the organisation. Stepping out of our comfort zone has allowed us to grow as individuals. Things that used to seem scary are now some of our biggest strengths. Growth is an important part of self-development and having a support network around you cheering you on and being there when you are nervous is a truly valuable asset.
Learning to work as a team with a unique group of individuals The council represents girls all over Canada, each with a unique voice. We all know that teamwork can be difficult at times, and the Council is no exception. However, through working with this group of extraordinary individuals, we’ve honed our conflict resolution skills while becoming more aware of a variety of perspectives.
Upskilling our communication skills Through in-person meetings and trying to put together a presentation when we’re separated by multiple time zones to working over teleconference calls without the ability to articulate your view with body language, the youth council has given us a variety of ways to further our communication skills. Having great communication is already a difficult skill to master but being part of the National Youth Council has allowed us to master a variety of communication platforms.
While we all have our differences, everyone on the council is there for a common purpose: to make a positive impact in our communities and in Guiding as a whole, which enables us to put aside our differences to ensure that the voices of girls are heard. The National Youth Council is a chance to highlight changes girls want to see in Guiding on a national level while learning new skills, exploring different cities, making friendships that will last a lifetime, AND getting awesome crests and Guiding swag. So what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on your chance to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and apply today! Applications close July 8, 2019.
Guest post by National Youth Council members Carolyn Huang, Emily Lints, Emily Vandermeer
At Girl Guides, we love a good parade. Even better – when the parade is all about positivity and inclusivity. From the Yukon to Saskatchewan and beyond, Girl Guides are participating in Pride month celebrations big and small across the country. Our goal – to be loud and proud in showcasing Guiding as a safe and welcoming space for the 2S-LGBTQI+ community.
Here’s a look at how Girl Guides are celebrating and what some of our members have to say about what it means to see Guiding at Pride events:
“Having Girl Guides at Pride makes us feel included and helps Guiding
be an inclusive space for all us!”
“Seeing Girl Guides at Pride feels like home. Girl Guides are
“I grew up in Guides. It wasn’t queer friendly. To see GGC here
now brings me Pride.”
“I am so happy my daughters and I are a part of this great
“More than 40 years ago I started in Guiding as a Brownie. This was in the 1970’s when being gay meant you could be beaten, persecuted, and at the very least shunned. I was a Brownie, Guide, and a Sparks/Brownie/Guide leader, all the while keeping who I really was a secret. It brings me to tears to see how much things have changed and how inclusive guiding has become.”
“It is so heartwarming to see a pillar that is Girl Guides for so
many young women at an event as powerful as the Toronto Pride Festival.”
“Seeing GGC at Pride is so amazing. Really shows how much they
For Indigenous girls in Canada, it can be hard to make their voices heard. At Girl Guides, we believe that every girl should be valued for exactly who she is. From Nunavut to Alberta and Nova Scotia and beyond, 13 Indigenous Girl Guides recently came together in Ottawa to share their experiences and offer ideas for how Guiding can better support girls in their communities. As Girl Guides celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21), Alice shares her story on the power of connecting with other Indigenous girls in Guiding:
I am Alice Lightning Earle. I am Cree from Treaty 6 and a member of the 1st Leduc Pathfinders in Alberta. I don’t think I would trade this Indigenous girls’ event for any other Girl Guide trip. It was just so enriching and fun. I had thought that there were barely any Indigenous girls in Guiding but it was awesome getting to meet other Indigenous girls from across Canada. We got to learn so much and had time to connect with each other.
While we were there we shared lots of history. We shared our opinions on how we were represented as Indigenous girls in Guiding, and that we should have a bit more representation. Myself and the other girls connected a lot through our beliefs and culture and just meeting other people. Lots of the history shared was about Girl Guides’ past and all of the Indigenous girls that were involved in Guiding, even in Northern Canada.
Some of the other things we learned were stuff about our own cultures and cultures of others, too. We also got to go in our own councils by a council choosing ceremony. In our councils, we discussed our opinions and outlooks for the future of Girl Guides. There were lots of amazing things taught and shared in the councils, because each specific council was unique and did their own thing.
When we were sharing our opinions we talked about how we could change some things to represent Indigenous people little bit. And we talked about how we would like a little more representation. All of us talking and sharing truly connected us. Connecting with each other was really good for all of us as a group and was meaningful to me.
Something else we did were smudge ceremonies which I really think showed us who we really are. We also did different projects, like a slideshow Snapchat, which was really awesome. We took lots of pictures with each other wearing our ribbon skirts or showing our regalia or cultural objects that represented us. It was lots of fun.
I honestly really think that we should have one of these events every year to connect and talk about progress. And while we were all there, all the organizers were amazing. Kudos to Yara, Sahar, Pytor, Saimaniq and Kim for helping out with this whole thing. They really made it fun and meaningful to do. Honestly if we do have another one they should be organizing it again. I really did have an amazing time there with all the other girls – plus it really helped me go out of my comfort zone and actually talk to other people and actually socialize. I am proud to be an Indigenous girl in Girl Guides.
Leadership skills aren’t
something that sprout up overnight. They take a lot of nurturing. That’s where
Girl Guides comes in. As our final girl-driven story contest winner, Guider
Kelly shares how a community planting project was the perfect talent and
leadership incubator for girls as they engaged their community.
When the Pathfinders and Rangers applied for a tree planting grant, they lovingly named their project ‘Love is a four-legged word.’ That’s because their chosen location was Bark Park in Blackfalds, a popular spot for local dogs and their owners. The girls applied for a tree planting grant in partnership with their sister units in Blackfalds, taking the lead to meet their programming requirements.
The local radio station caught wind of the girls’ intentions and the rest, as they say, is history! Everything changed with a meeting with the Town of Blackfalds. Hoping they would support the girls’ vision of planting 10 trees, the town was prepared with a counter offer – they wanted to contribute to the project and work in partnership with the girls. The town provided planting equipment and supplies and connected the girls with the town horticulturist.
The horticulturist supplied the girls with topographical maps as they planned the landscape design and arranged for a private tour of a nursery, giving thems a behind the scenes look at the tricks of the trade. Girls learned about planting zones, soil conditions, and details about which trees and shrubs could handle the high levels of alkaline caused from the dogs who use the park for their bathroom breaks.
On the day of the ‘Big Plant’, the town dug the holes and
prepared the site and siblings came out to help, too. We even met a few happy
puppies who joyfully ran around testing out their new digs.
One of the best things that came out of this event was the strengthened partnership with the Town of Blackfalds and our community members. The project was an amazing opportunity for our Guiding units to show the community just what our girls are capable of. Girls in Guiding give back to the community in ways most do not see and the project allowed girls to contribute back to the town that supports them. All of the girls’ hard work was validated for them by the amazing and supportive feedback they received from the residents of Blackfalds.
Thank you to Kelly Thiessen from Alberta for sharing this story. She receives a prize pack for her winning story.
By Jill Zelmanovits, CEO and Keynote Listener, Girl Guides of Canada
Whether they’re life guarding, scooping ice cream or babysitting, a job can seem like a pretty great way for a teenage girl to spend her summer. Meeting friends, building up her resume and adding to her bank account – what could be better? Well it turns out that a girl’s summer job can also come with workplace hazards like harassment and getting paid less than the boys she works with.
As our new report Girls on the Jobreveals, 13% of girls ages 12-18 experience sexual harassment or assault during their summer jobs – whether it’s cat-calls or being subjected to sexual jokes or unwanted touching. We also discovered a nearly $3.00 per hour gender wage gap in full-time summer jobs between girls and boys. Yes, the wage gap starts young.
When my own daughter started babysitting as a teenager, I didn’t
pay too much attention to her workplace experience. (And yes, babysitting is a
real job.) But after she told me what she was getting paid – which seemed kind
of low to me – I wondered if I was inadvertently setting her up for a working
life of lowballing her own pay expectations. As parents there’s plenty we can
do to boost our daughters as they jump into the world of work:
Encourage her to
negotiate Whether it’s for her allowance or how many friends she can have for a
sleepover, be open to hearing your daughter negotiate and advocate for herself.
If your daughter is starting to work, help her role play conversations with
potential employers. Encourage her to ask questions about pay and job
expectations and help her make it a habit to advocate for herself.
Talk about money and pay Summer jobs are the perfect opening for talking with your daughter about the value of money and what her time and skills are worth. Before she starts a job, take time to discuss how pay rates are set and help her figure out the going rate for the kind of work she’s doing. If she’s in Girl Guides, look for the Money Sense activities in our Girls First program for ideas on talking about money.
Connect her with role models At Girl Guides, we know the powerful benefits of giving girls opportunities to connect with women mentors from all backgrounds. Your daughter might already have big ideas and dreams about her future. Work together to identify women you already know who’ve done amazing things or work in a field your daughter is interested in.
Empower her to jump in Your daughter may already have big ideas for her future or she might still be thinking about dozens of different options. The summer is a great time for her to explore what’s open to her. Perhaps she’s interested in landscaping instead of retail, or more curious about working at a soccer camp instead of babysitting. Encourage her to jump into whatever sector she’s interested in. Be there to support her if she needs it.
Our Vision at GGC is a better world, by girls.
And it makes sense since the core of the Guiding movement has always been
active citizenship. As girls learn who they are and what they can do, their motivation
to take positive action in the world is inevitable.
In May, we are exploring the fifth and final pillar of
girl-driven Guiding: engage community.
Girls in Guiding are supported in identifying local issues that matter to them,
engaging in their communities through service, and learning about their rights
and responsibilities as citizens. Through these experiences, girls in Guiding
are primed to become the compassionate leaders of tomorrow.
Megan Gilchrist, a committed Guider from Ontario shares an
inspiring story of girls speaking up:
“Our meeting place is in the centre of a
large parkland area managed by Parks Canada. Two years ago, our Brownie unit
was outside doing some geocaching, and were horrified at the number of little
plastic baggies full of dog poop that the dog walkers had left behind. When we
came back inside, the girls were still upset, so we talked about what we could
do to help solve the problem. The girls brainstormed some longer-term solutions:
go back another week and clean up, make signs to put along the trail, talk to
town council, and so on. But they wanted to do something NOW! We talked about
how we could help educate people and they eventually came up with writing a
letter to the editor of our little town newspaper, which we did as a group. The
girls were thrilled to see their letter published and in print, and they felt
empowered to speak up about something that was important to them.”
There’s no doubt our world is facing some big challenges.
Supporting girl leadership at GGC means they’ll have the confidence and
know-how to meet these challenges head-on.
contest – enter to win…one last time! This year, we’re celebrating the critical role Guiders play in girls’
lives! From January to May, we’re inviting Guiders to share their stories of
In May, we’d love to hear your stories of the fifth
girl-driven pillar: engage community. How have you supported girls in community
engagement or service? How have girls thrived? What have you learned?
Send your stories of community engagement in
Guiding to email@example.com
by Tuesday, May 28 for a chance to win a Guider self-care package – and a
limited-edition girl-driven crest!
Please include your name, mailing address,
iMIS#, Provincial Council and the branch level of your unit
Images encouraged (please ensure we have
permission to share!)
Girl Guides is the ultimate leadership incubator for girls. In every activity, event and outdoor adventure a girl experiences through Guiding, she can develop her own personal leadership style. It’s not about being the boss – it’s about empowering girls to discover the kinds of leaders they want to be. As the winner of our girl-driven story telling contest focused on shared leadership, B.C. Trex Guider Nycki shares what happens when girls take the lead in planning their own adventures.
I am the Guider of a very small Trex unit in British Columbia. I have watched these girls grow from Sparks to amazing young women. There’s rarely a project, camp or event that they don’t plan, build and execute, however, Nite Trek has got to be their favourite. Along with a unit from a nearby town the girls take the lead on this huge co-ed multi unit-event. It has turned into something huge.
We have participants from the U.S. and Alberta join us every year. Watching these girls plan, participate and build upon this every year is truly inspiring. While these girls are truly active outdoor enthusiasts they understand the need to include and accommodate everyone, including first-time campers. They offer help and expertise, including helping other patrols put up their tents if they are struggling. They help lay trail and plan stations, give menu plans and basically run the weekend of hundreds of youth. Each year they strive to build this better and improve upon the year before. They also get to participate in the event themselves and the mentorship we have had feedback on from the trail is amazing.
These girls cheer on those who struggle and encourage them to keep on going. Some days I wonder if these capable young women even need me and that’s when I know I have done my job. These girls are the future of Guiding and will be amazing leaders. I can’t wait to watch it unfold.
Thank you to Nycki Wannamaker from Fernie, B.C. for sharing this story. She receives a prize pack for her winning story. Look for this month’s girl-driven storytelling contest – focused on community engagement – to launch later this week.
Want to learn more about supporting girls in leadership roles in Guiding? Check out our resources for volunteers and girls.
Imagine a place where you can spark extraordinary moments for girls in your community – and for yourself, too. That’s what being a Guider is all about. On National Volunteer Week, here are 10 reasons why our adult members say being a Guider is the ULTIMATE in all that is fun and inspiring:
You get a ‘code name.’ It can get a bit awkward when you bump into a parent on the street and they only know your Guider name: “This is… Sparkles.”
2. Kids say some funny and adorable stuff. “Does it taste like rainbows? But what if I don’t like the taste of rainbows?”
3. You gain some pretty lit skills and experience for your resume. Teamwork. Check. Leadership. Check. Responsibility for budgets. Check. Communications skills. Check, check and check.
4. You know some serious life hacks. When the apocalypse hits, you won’t be fazed with all of those life hacks you’ve developed. “Let me just build a shelter in the snow, start a fire and cook a delicious meal from nothing but the contents of my small backpack and the forest
6. And you’ll always have a place to crash, at home and abroad. Guiding can be found all over the world, and with all that travelling you’re bound to have made a few friends around Canada and the globe.
7. Energy is way more contagious than germs. At the end of a end of a long hard workday, the girls bring so much joy and enthusiasm it’s often the perfect antidote to a bad day. And when they start laughing, just try not to join in.
8. It’s like a pair of hot, new glasses. Guiding will have you seeing the world in new ways. From self-esteem and self-acceptance to eco-awareness hunger, programming stretches your own thinking just as much as the girls’.
9. You’re always in the cookie know.
10. Best of all – ultimate squad goals. Nothing beats the friendships and support network you build at Guiding. Your fellow Guiders will always have your back and the fun and mischief you get up to together is priceless.
Girl Guides is all about building leadership skills and
amplifying girls’ voices. All of our programs are designed to put every girl in
the driver’s seat allowing her to choose what she gets out of Guiding.
In April, we are exploring the fourth pillar of girl-driven
Guiding: shared leadership. Shared leadership means girls get to make
decisions, help plan unit meetings, advocate for their interests and even lead
activities! Shared leadership is also about working as a team and sharing
responsibilities with the other girls and Guiders in their units.
Helping girls find
and use their voices early on is critical. As girls move into their teenage
years, self-esteem, confidence and independence can waver just as they are discovering
who they are and what they hope to contribute to the world. Societal
expectations and the desire to fit in with peers can make girls hesitant to use
their voices or take the lead. That’s where strong women role models (a.k.a.
Guiders) come in!
So how do Guiders inspire girls to step into their
leadership potential? Every week, Guiders listen to girls’ interests, provide
opportunities for leadership and decision-making, and support a collaborative
team environment where everyone’s voice is valued.
Rachel Collins, a Guider in southern Ontario, has found a
great way to let girls lead:
“This year, with Girls
First in mind, I have tried to take a page from the world of improv by
exercising that tried and true “YES, AND…” style of collaboration
in my Brownie unit. That has meant being willing to go with the flow, step
back, and abandon a plan. When a girl says, “I know an extra verse to that
song,” our answer becomes “YES, AND why don’t you teach it.”
When a girl starts leading a game without any prompting from us, our answer is
“YES, AND the rest of our meeting can wait.” Looking for these
“YES, AND” moments has been a real and tangible way to give the girls
more voice in determining the activities our unit participates in and has given
individual girls a chance to step up and take the lead.”
Christa Morhart from Saskatchewan Council respects the
different personalities in her unit and helps girls work together as a team:
“One activity they
recently did was drawing a picture together. Each patrol had 5-10 mins to make
a plan for their group drawing. They then proceeded (in silence) to pass the
paper around the table letting each girl spend 45 seconds drawing a portion of
the picture. They went a few rounds then at the end they had to present the
drawing to the rest of the unit and identify their original plan, the end
result, and how their planning could be improved. They also made other comments
about the activity and how they could apply it to other aspects of their life.”
Every girl has a unique voice and leadership style. Guiding
is a great place for girls to be heard, exercise their leadership muscles and
build a better world!
contest – enter to win! This year, we’re celebrating the critical role Guiders play in girls’
lives! From January to May, we’re inviting Guiders to share their stories of
In April, we’d love to hear your stories of the fourth
girl-driven pillar: shared leadership. How do you help girls find their voice?
How have girls thrived? What have you learned?
Send your stories of shared leadership in
Guiding to firstname.lastname@example.org
by April 26 for a chance to win a Guider self-care package…and a limited-edition
Please include your name, mailing address,
iMIS#, Provincial Council and the branch level of your unit
Images encouraged (please ensure we have permission
Grit. Determination. Self-reliance. Those are just some of the skills girls unleash when they hoist a canoe and do their first solo carry. Along the way, they demonstrate to themselves and each other the limitless possibilities of what girls can achieve in Guiding – all with the support of their Guiders. As the winner of our girl-driven storytelling contest focused on positive identity, Ranger and Trex Guider Shannon C. shares how outdoor experiences are the perfect place for girls to forge their own pathway and empower each other along the way.
“At my summer camp, the guy always carries the canoe.” We were on the Poker Lakes in Haliburton in October 2017. It was my first canoe trip as a newly minted Ranger Guider. I was talking with one of our newly minted Rangers, and I was floored.
The Poker Lakes are ideal for learning portaging as they are a series
of small lakes joined by short portages, offering multiple opportunities to
carry a canoe. At the first portage, Margaret Harper and Liz Allard, our
amazing trip lead and trip assist, demonstrated how to safely lift a canoe,
alone and with a partner. The approach emphasized technique over strength,
using a rolling motion rather than straight lift. We then gave the girls a
choice on whether they wanted to carry canoes or gear. Some girls will take a
canoe solo immediately and head off over the portage. Others work up to it,
starting with two or more girls under each canoe in the multi-legged canoe bug
approach. The remaining girls grab gear or compare the weight of the canoes
against the packs and barrels before deciding which to take. On this particular
trip, the leaders carried the canoes on the first portage and then the girls
took over, together on the next portage and then solo.
After the trip, as we reflected on the weekend, our new Ranger
mentioned that the best part of the trip for her was the solo carry. Having
learned the proper technique, she was no longer intimidated by it, even if she
was carrying a leader’s personal canoe. She was eager to get back to her summer
camp and put her new skill to use.
My co-Guiders and I now make sure every girl has the opportunity to solo carry on canoe trips with our unit. By the end of each trip, generally every girl decides to try a solo canoe portage. We don’t need to push. The girls are encouraged by their friends and by seeing their friends succeed. A smiling Pathfinder or Ranger on the trail with a canoe on her shoulders is one of the most empowering images of adventure camping in Guiding. It evokes thoughts of self-reliance, determination and an adventurous spirit. I look forward to seeing the girls’ faces on each trip as they lift their canoes and realize they can do it. And then watching as they set off down the trail.
Thank you to Shannon for sharing this story. She receives this prize pack for her winning story. Look for this month’s girl-driven storytelling contest – focused on shared leadership – to launch later this week.
We know that gender inequality is something girls experience early and often. That’s why it’s so important for teenagers to have space to speak out about these issues. As a facilitator for a Youth for Gender Equality Dialogue, I got to make space for other youth to do just that! I spent an evening with a group of Pathfinders, Rangers, and other youth from the Saskatoon community talking about how we can create a more gender equal world.
What’s Youth for Gender Equality (YGE)? It’s a three-year initiative that Girl Guides is part of, and it’s co-led by Plan International Canada and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. Youth for Gender Equality engages youth across Canada to talk about how we can lead progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on gender equality.
A big part of the dialogue was for us to share our experiences of inequality. Everyone wrote down their experiences with gender inequality on a sticky note. To get them started, I wrote down two words: “gym class.” I’ve heard from others that gym class is a common place where young people notice inequality – and this held true with our group. Many of the other participants shared stories of feeling unequal in gym class.
After everyone shared and discussed their own issues, the issues were organized into categories like gender roles and responsibilities, health, access to education, and so on. Everyone voted on the categories they thought were most important, and then we broke into small groups to dive into the most pressing topics.
As groups, we worked on creating solutions for the root
causes of the issues at an individual, community, and government level. Each
group had the chance to present their recommendations to everyone and explain how
they related to the root causes. Afterwards, everyone voted on which
recommendation would cause the biggest impact and which recommendation was most
The best part? The recommendations will all be part of the
first-ever youth-led SDG 5 Implementation Plan. This plan will be presented to leaders
and decision-makers, including elected officials of the Government of Canada
and used for program development and planning.
being part of Youth for Gender Equality, I feel empowered that I can make a
difference despite my age. It’s
important for youth to have their say in creating solutions like this because
inequality impacts our lives from an early age. Youth want to see change – but
they need the space and the platform to make it happen. I was proud to be a
part of this experience and that Girl Guides can create a safe space for youth
to share their voices.
Guest post by Kaylee Dodds. Kaylee is currently a student at the University of Saskatchewan. She has been a girl member and Junior Leader in Lumsden’s multi-branch unit in Long Lake District, SK.
Youth for Gender Equality unites young people from
coast-to-coast-to-coast, ages 14 to 24 of all gender identities in
conversations about how to create an equitable society for people of all
genders, abilities and races. A ground-breaking initiative based on the United
Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Youth for Gender Equality
project will launch the first-ever youth-led SDG 5 Implementation Plan on
gender equality in the world. Girl Guides of Canada is a YGE partner
Mental health awareness: it’s a huge focus in our Girl Guide unit. We have several girls with severe anxiety issues and many girls with exceptionalities and sensitivities that we always take into consideration in all we do and in how the girls interact with each other. We spend many meetings a year fostering understanding, empathy, inclusion – and stress management. We have done many fun nights surrounding mental health over the years, but Fortnite Girl Guide style was by far one of the biggest hits!
Before I continue, kudos where it’s due: this incredible
night was planned entirely by our Junior Leader, Alex. I firmly believe that our
teen members have some of the best ideas in how to connect with the younger
The night started out with a quick chat about safe spaces
and stress and ways to manage it. We then set the girls free on an incredible
“choose-your-own-adventure” night that had them giggling, working cooperatively
and feeling safe all night long. Here’s how the night went down:
We asked all the girls / parents to send in
blankets and pillows and cozy things for the girls to build forts with. Leaders
also brought extras. I would advise lots of extras – the more cuddly stuff the
Once all the girls were assembled, we introduced
the night. There were a few options for the girls. They could make stress balls
out of flour and balloons, make their own salt-dough and sculpt with it,
decorate sea shells with sharpies, find their unicorn name and make a poster,
write a story about what makes you feel safe and happy, talk about something
amazing that you’ve tried or want to try, and last (but certainly not least)
fort building. All the options were written on a huge Bristol board and posted
for all to see. Stations were pointed out for the girls to navigate to and off
There was not one girl in the unit who did not enjoy this entire night, which I count as a huge success. Since this night was all about doing whatever was in each girl’s comfort zone and creating a physically safe space for each girl individually, they all felt heard and safe and free to be themselves. We have a few girls who made individual forts and a few that we expected to build on their own that opted to join a group; not something they usually do without assistance. In those cases I learned that they felt 100% in control of their physical space so were excited to jump into the action with their peers.
After 35 years in Guiding the one thing I have learned is
that you never stop learning. That night taught us some great stuff about what
all out girls need to be successful this year, in ways that other meetings were
not able to. It was amazing to see the smiles on all their faces throughout the
night as the girls were learning about safe spaces while engaging in a timeless
childhood activity: fort building!
Guest post by Theressa Audette, a Guider with the 3rd Bowmanville Guides in Ontario. She’s also a Girls First Champion.
by Jill Zelmanovits Girl Guides of Canada – CEO – Keynote Listener
When it comes to creating a more equitable world for girls and women, lately it feels like we’re always taking one step forward, and two giant steps back. As equality has our attention on International Women’s Day, I’m incredibly proud as the CEO of Girl Guides of Canada to belong to an organization that has always put girls first. At Girl Guides, we believe in a gender-balanced world and creating #BalanceforBetter. We’ve seen firsthand that when girls have an all-access pass to opportunity and leadership roles, it can propel them to amazing things and make a real difference as they navigate a world that puts plenty of barriers in their way.
Helping girls see themselves as leaders – and anything else they want to be
Girls have told us all about the ways that inequality is holding them back. As our GGC Women in the Workforce report reveals, one in four girls aged 15-17 in Canada report that they don’t know any female role models who have their dream job. And one in four don’t feel motivated to pursue their chosen career because they are concerned they’ll be compensated less than their male counterparts. As one girl told us: “It’s hard to strive for excellence if you know that no matter how much work and effort you put in and how great you are, a man will always be paid more.” That’s exactly why at Girl Guides, we know how important it is to empower girls to strive to be everything they want to be. One of the most powerful benefits of Guiding is the opportunity for girls to connect with women mentors from all backgrounds. Our volunteers come from all walks of life, from every imaginable career field. Every week, they help girls unleash their potential and see that girls can and SHOULD make a difference in the world. They inspire girls to not only see women as leaders, but also to see themselves as leaders. Of course, our volunteers often tell us they get just as much from these connections as girls do – they become change catalysts , one girl at a time.
How Guiding is helping re-shape the talent pipeline
We know that girls of influence become women of influence – community members and global citizens who go on to be innovators and leaders in their fields. Guiding empowers girls to be builders of their own future – in whatever career trajectory they choose. In a world that constantly whisper shouts at girls to dial it back and tone it down when it comes to expressing their ideas and aspirations, Guiding is that place where girls know they don’t have to hold back. Where there are no limits and where every leadership opportunity is open to them. It’s like their own personal talent and leadership incubator – where they can test out who they want to be and how they want to make their mark on the world.
Of course, #BalanceforBetter isn’t “just” a women’s issue –
it affects everyone. In fact, gender inequality is bad for business and the
economy. We know that women are currently underrepresented in many industries
and at every level of corporate Canada – and that the gender pay gap is a
persistent reminder of economic inequality. But while women and girls are inordinately
impacted by unequal representation and unequal pay, industry is missing out,
too. Workplaces stagnate when it’s the same old ideas, perspectives and experiences
brought to the table. When half the population isn’t represented, there really
isn’t any representation at all and it’s impossible to have real innovation or
it can’t be just up to girls and women to crack and shatter the glass ceiling
of inequality. We all need to step it up and start chipping away at gender
inequality. We need to expose girls to diverse, amazing leaders and give them a
chance to test-drive their budding leadership skills. To encourage them to turn
up the volume on what they have to say and crank up their personal ambition dial.
That’s what will create a better balance that we’ll all benefit from.
The Girl Guides origin story is a story of girl empowerment.
It all began in 1909 when a group of courageous girls gate-crashed a Boy Scout
rally in London, demanding they be included. More than 100 years
later, girls are still showing the world what they can do. In 150 countries
around the world, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are an unstoppable powerhouse –
busting stereotypes and making a difference in the world.
Since the start of the year, we’ve been inviting
conversations about each of the five girl-driven pillars (check out our earlier
stories about safe
space and growth
mindset). In March, we’re
diving into the third girl-driven pillar: positive
identity. This core principle of Guiding is all about challenging
stereotypes of what girls and young women can and can’t do. Guiders play a
critical role in helping girls explore their interests and overcome barriers
the world sometimes puts in their way. They introduce girls to inspiring women
role models from all walks of life in order to help them find their own unique
Emma Fisher-Cobb, a Guider in Hamilton, ON, shares her experience supporting positive identity:
“A few years ago, I
took my Guides to Mohawk college and did a women-driven careers day. We took
apart and built an engine – the activity was led by a woman professor. Many
girls hadn’t considered that they could do that before. It was hugely positive
and got them talking about the trades.”
Diamond Isinger, a Guider in Vancouver, B.C., shared this
“I organized the
Parliament Hill launch event for Mighty Minds a few years ago. Among the
elected officials they met, girls got to meet Minister Bardish Chagger (a
former Girl Guide!) and share ideas about mental health. One of the girls
turned to me after speaking to her and said ‘Did you see? I just met the
The Girl Guides of Canada Mission is to be a catalyst for
girls empowering girls. As catalysts, mentors and advocates for girls, Guiders
support positive identity development every day. When a girl looks into the
mirror, we want her to see a strong, confident person with loads of potential…someone
proud to forge her own pathway into the future.
Guider storytelling contest – enter to win! This year, we’re celebrating the critical role Guiders play in girls’
lives! From January to May, we’re inviting Guiders to share their stories of
In March, we’d love to hear your stories of the third
girl-driven pillar: positive identity. How do you help girls challenge
stereotypes? How have girls thrived in your unit? What have you learned?
Send your stories of positive identity in
Guiding to email@example.com
by March 26 for a chance to win a Guider self-care package
Please include your name, mailing address,
iMIS#, Provincial Council and the branch level of your unit
Images encouraged (please ensure we have
permission to share!)
In a judgement-free zone like Girl Guides, it’s a whole lot easier for girls to step up, speak up and take the lead. It’s the perfect place for girls to lead the agenda for what they want to do – and experience a whole lot of confidence-building moments along the way. As the winner of our girl-driven storytelling contest focused on growth mindset, Guider Jenn shares how the girls in her unit transformed a simple sleepover into a leadership gold.
A recent experience where our girls and Guiders experienced a growth mindset happened last weekend at our Sparks and Brownies Midnight Madness Sleepover.
As Guiders, we’d made a conscious effort to make this sleepover less structured than our normal events, and just have supplies and fun things laying around for the girls to access as they wanted. There was no official agenda. In the spirit of a growth mindset, this was quite a jump for us as we are usually pretty detailed planners. Some girls played board games, some girls worked on creating a marble run, some girls built a fort, some had a dance party. It was chaotic and loud but it was also amazing.
One of the standout experiences for me was witnessing one girl take the lead and teach the others to finger knit. I never would have imagined the popularity of this activity, and next time I will know to bring more yarn. One Brownie took the lead and before long she was teaching a group of seven or eight other girls how to finger knit their own scarves. It was a powerful moment for us, to step back and see what the girls can do when we don’t plan every moment for them. What a lesson! The girls spent hours finger knitting (some right until sleep time at midnight).
In the morning,
the finger knitting popularity still hadn’t subsided. I was tasked with
detangling massive yarn knots while I attempted to eat my breakfast. At one
point I just had to say, “Girls, I need a cup of coffee before I can detangle more
yarn!” I was so proud of the girls for working together to learn a new skill,
and of the girl who took the lead and taught them all, patiently and without
being asked to do so.
these make me proud to be a Guider!
Jenn B. – 1st
Dutton Sparks/Brownies – Dutton, ON
you to Jenn for sharing this story. She wins this prize pack for her winning
story. Look for this month’s girl-driven storytelling contest – focused on
positive identity – to launch later this
February is Black History Month, a month dedicated to honouring the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present. We got in touch with Gabrielle Grant, a Guider with a unit in a predominantly Black community in Nova Scotia, to ask how they celebrate Black History Month. Her answer was beautiful and highlighted a great learning for us all – Black history is something their unit celebrates throughout the year and not just in February. We were able to find out a little bit more about the unit’s unique history, how girls celebrate their culture and heritage, and how this helps the girls discover themselves and be everything they want to be.
you tell us a little bit about your unit?
Our unit is the East Preston Multibranch unit. We meet in a community centre in East Preston in Nova Scotia. My co-Guider, Miss Brenda Brooks, started the unit over 35 years ago, and I grew up in this unit starting as a Spark. Right now, our unit consists of mainly Sparks and Brownies, with a Ranger assistant, but we have had all branches in the past. The girls in our unit love to go on outings, play active games and sell Girl Guide cookies. Last year they got to go on a STEM trip to the galaxy dome, and they loved it.
unit celebrates the culture of the girls in your unit throughout the year – why
and how do you do that?
We bring people from our community to our unit as guest speakers. This way the girls get to see role models and women who they can identify with and who reflect their experiences. We do different activities with the girls that connect them with their African ancestry, such as basket weaving. One of our elders, who is a craftswoman, came to teach the girls in our unit how to weave a basket, which is a traditional trade that our elders still practice today.
Growing up in this unit, I always knew that our toadstool was different than that of other units. I explained to the girls that our toadstool is a basket which was woven by another Elder in our community, and we still use that same toadstool today.
“With the negative stereotypes the girls are exposed to about themselves because they are girls and because they are Black, they benefit greatly from Guiding.”
does this type of programming benefit the girls?
The girls love learning new skills,
especially ones that highlight their culture. I have found that these
activities help the girls feel a sense of pride in their community and raise
their confidence. I remember during one of our unit meetings, I asked the girls
to sing a song while I got the materials ready for another activity, and they
started to sing “Lift every voice and sing” which is recognized as the Black
national anthem. I didn’t think they knew this song, so they surprised me with
their knowledge of our community’s history; this is how their pride in themselves
and our community comes through.
With the negative stereotypes the girls are exposed to about themselves because they are girls and because they are Black, they benefit greatly from Guiding. Being part of Girl Guides gives us an opportunity to engage in activities like this and help the girls explore who they are and celebrate them.
We learned so much from the East Preston Multibranch unit about celebrating Black history in Guiding and we invite you to take the opportunity Black History Month provides to learn more about these histories and heritages throughout the year.
How does your unit celebrate the culture of its girl members? We want to hear your stories! Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a teen I remember hearing that leadership was a skill to be developed for adulthood – that youth are in training to be leaders tomorrow. My years of experience with Girl Guides of Canada has proven this wrong: leadership is a skill that girls have today. Every day, girls stand up as a leader in their own lives, in their classrooms and in their communities. As we mark World Thinking Day (February 22), 10 million girls and women in Guiding and Girl Scouting are showing that the #TimeToLead is now.
Girls have been in the lead since the beginning of the Guiding Movement: 110 years ago, girls gate-crashed a Boy Scout rally at the Crystal Palace in London, UK, to demand equal opportunities for girls. Today, Guiding offers a safe space for girls to explore different types of leadership, build skills, and meet awesome new women role models. One of the most important things I’ve learned from working with girls is that leadership doesn’t always mean being the person at the front of the room, or the loudest voice in a group.
Girls could give a master class in leadership – here are five quick lessons:
Life happens, and a strong leader pays attention to the team they work with. I know we all have other things going on in our lives and in our communities, and it’s impossible to separate every situation. Working with teenage girls in Rangers taught me to say, “I had a rough day,” and to ask for patience from my team.
Open up the circle and invite others to be leaders, too. The media often likes to portray us as ‘mean girls’ and overly ‘bossy’ anytime women and girls are assertive. Yet, the girls in Guiding teaching me to lead have an uncanny ability to recognize when others are unintentionally left out, and asking them to join the circle. Welcoming others and listening to those who aren’t always heard is an essential leadership skill.
We ALL have to admit that girls can already be
leaders, whether they know it or not. Girls are leaders today. No further
Guest post by Krysta Coyle. Krysta is Girl Guides of Canada’s Guiding Ambassador and a member of our Board of Directors. Krysta is a cancer biologist at Simon Fraser University researching the genetics of lymphoma.
Scientific innovation – it’s what propels the world forward and leads to the discoveries that make our lives healthier and better. On International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11), ideas for how to balance the gender equation in the scientific world will be under the microscope. Here’s how one Guider and engineer inspires girls to be innovators and STEM explorers.
The fact is, companies, post-secondary educational
institutions and nonprofits have researched gender inequity within STEM
(science, technology, engineering and math) fields for years. A quick Google
search with the keywords “women” and “STEM” will return plenty of research
studies, statistical reports and opinion-pieces. Amidst all of this
information, how can we – as advocates for women and girls – help drive the
change required to achieve gender equity in STEM fields? Based on my
experience, I propose implementing a tried-and-true problem-solving process: ideate, implement, and iterate,
with girls in the lead every step of the way.
with a girl-driven approach mindset. Identify the challenges faced by women in
STEM fields and the skills required to overcome them, then brainstorm ways to
learn those skills as a unit. Interview a local science teacher, professor, or
parent at your unit meeting, or consult some current literature – I recommend
the Harvard Business Review for
Pathfinders and Rangers, and National
Geographic for Sparks, Brownies and Guides. Plan activities, projects and
field trips that build girls’ confidence, teamwork and problem-solving skills. Ideating as a unit requires
proactivity, goal setting and prioritizing, and sets the stage for effective unit
with a curious mindset. As a Guider, I have observed that girls engage the most
with STEM activities that challenge their assumptions about the world. For
example, I once gave a group of girls a temperature gun and told them I
discovered that my cat’s paws are colder than its belly. Ten minutes later, the
Guides were still completely immersed in measuring the surfaces temperatures
around them. Another time, I demonstrated a typical Newtonian mechanics problem
by dropping balls with different masses on top of each other. I will never
forget the girls’ expressions when they discovered that a basketball can
transfer enough momentum to a tennis ball to send it rocketing across the room.
These moments of excitement and discovery are powerful, and learning to harness
them equips girls with an invaluable motivational tool. Implementing as a unit requires synergy and teaches girls valuable
communication and collaboration skills.
with a continuous improvement mindset. Debrief after your unit meeting and
determine what worked, what didn’t, and how you can improve. Were you prepared
for your activities? Did your experiments surprise you? Did you prefer building
circuits or writing code? Did working together speed up your progress or cause
conflict? Did your unit accomplish its goals? Iterating is analogous to
analyzing your unexpected experimental results and developing a new procedure,
or observing your malfunctioning prototype and taking it back to the shop for
an adjustment. Iterating as a unit requires focus and creativity, and
kick-starts the entire process all over again.
As sisters in Guiding we have the ability to help
drive the change required to achieve equity in STEM fields. We are also mentors
and friends, with countless opportunities to offer encouragement and support to
girls who absolutely need it. When a girl tell you she’s “bad” at math, tell
her that math can be tricky but it gets easier with practice. When a girl
becomes frustrated or begins to lose focus during a problem solving activity, find
a way to keep her engaged. Research has told us about the challenges women and
girls face in the pursuit of STEM careers. Let Guiding be an environment where
girls learn to overcome them.
(BESc, MESc, EIT) is an Improvement Engineer with Dow Chemical Canada ULC and a
Sparks unit Guider in Parkland Area, AB.
Girl Guides of Canada’s new Girls First program is exploding with opportunities for girls to innovate, experiment, design and create, including our Engineering Instant Meetings.
There’s a lot of judgment in today’s world but Guiding is a different kind of place for girls. In an accepting and judgement-free zone like Girl Guides, girls can seek challenges, try new things even if they might fail, learn from their set-backs and feel confident to dust themselves off and try again. Through this kind of growth mindset, girls learn that they really can do anything they set their minds to. Talk about a skill that will translate into the rest of their life.
Following up on last month’s exploration of safe space, in February we’re looking at the second pillar of girl-driven Guiding – growth mindset. When girls have a growth mindset, they believe their abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication. They embrace challenges and are totally up for learning new things. Talent is just a starting point for these girls – they know it’s their effort and focus that leads to success in the end. True Guiding values!
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, girls
can learn to judge themselves and some may become ultra-sensitive to the
judgment of others. This leads to a fixed mindset. Girls with a fixed mindset
believe they are what they are – good or bad, winning or failing, cool or
In a fixed mindset, girls believe their
basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are fixed and cannot change.
They spend their time demonstrating and proving their abilities instead of
developing them. These girls avoid challenges and dream small, so their
weaknesses aren’t exposed. Out of a fear of failure, they become afraid of
taking chances and stretching their boundaries.
Yet, we were all born to learn. When we first tried to climb a tree, we probably didn’t make it to the top. We might have been scared of falling. We may have even suffered a few scrapes and bruises. But with effort and practice, our muscles got stronger, our approach got smarter, and we figured out how to move to the higher branches.
Guiders promote growth mindset by helping girls step out of their comfort zone, explore new skills and focus on process versus achievement. In girl-driven Guiding, positive feedback focuses on each girl’s effort, choices and strategies rather than her abilities and talents. Instead of praising girls for their personal attributes (like how good at math or singing they are), Guiders praise their passion, grit, determination and hard work. Because Guiding is a safe space, Guiders can also offer constructive feedback to help girls grow and improve in ways that matter to them.
Growth mindset supports girls as they navigate
their world and grab hold of every opportunity that comes their way. As
catalysts for girls empowering girls, Guiders who model a growth mindset help
girls learn to sustain their own confidence throughout life.
storytelling contest – enter to win!
This year, we’re celebrating the
critical role Guiders play in girls’ lives! From January to May, we’re inviting
Guiders to share their stories of girl-driven Guiding.
In February, we’d love to hear your
stories of the second girl-driven pillar: growth mindset. How did you support
growth mindset in your unit? How have girls thrived? What have you learned?
Send your stories of growth mindset in Guiding to email@example.com by February 25 for a chance to win a Guider self-care package
Please include your name, mailing address, iMIS#, Provincial Council and the branch level of your unit
Images encouraged (please ensure we have permission to share!)
Girls need a safe space where they feel supported, respected and valued for exactly who they are. A safe space where they can use their voice. Fortunately, Guiding offers just such a space. And our volunteer Guiders play a huge role in creating the ultimate supportive and safe space for girls. As the winner of this month’s girl-driven storytelling contest, Guider Mandy from Burlington, ON shares how one Pathfinder found her voice in Guiding. We dare you not to be inspired by her story.
A girl came to
us four years ago as a first year Pathfinder. She apologized profusely at our
first meeting – for everything. Sorry for bumping into you. Sorry for being in
your way. Sorry for having done nothing at all. She also struggles with
anxiety. When asked to speak or share in front of the group, she freezes,
stutters and clams up. You always want to give her an opportunity to share, but
you often want to pass over her to spare her the embarrassment of freezing up.
The silence is piercing in the room when it is her turn to speak.
She comes to
everything. Camps. Parades. Every meeting. Her attendance is perfect. But we as
a volunteer team wondered if her parents just signed her up for everything. She
never indicated that she was happy at any of our events because she never
spoke. One of our Guiders was making
strides in building a special connection with her. But we still didn’t
know… was she happy in Girl Guides?
We got our
answer in her final year of Pathfinders. There was a talent contest being held
at our meeting place. We put a call out to our girls to share their talents –
guitar, dance, musical theatre. She said she wanted to participate in the
contest. Now, we knew she was a talented artist – she doodled all the time
while we were talking and the images were magnificent. But she did not want to
share her art work… She said she wanted to sing.
We couldn’t have
been more surprised. We had never heard her utter a word. We were worried for
her – that she was setting herself up to fail, to feel embarrassed in front of
her peers, who by this point were very used to the awkward pause when it was
her turn to share. But as you do in a safe space, we of course encouraged her
to sign up. Dress rehearsal day came and everyone was on edge as it approached
her turn to sing. Would she freeze again?
A cell phone
tucked into a coffee mug to amplify the sound played her background music. The
song started quietly and she opened her mouth to sing. She seemed comfortable
in her own world of music – seemingly
unaware that she had an audience in front of her. And her voice was beautiful!
More words than we had ever heard her speak in three years were shared in that
song, in that meeting place, at that rehearsal. No one quite knew what to do.
There were tears from her leaders and even some of her peers for what that
moment represented for her and for us.
Guiding created a safe place for this young woman to find her voice. It took years, and consistent work and connection from our Guiders. But she speaks often now as a Ranger, after discovering that Guiding is a safe space. She will raise her hand and contribute to discussions. And everyone is so happy to hear her beautiful voice!
Thank you to Mandy for sharing this story. She wins this prize pack for her winning story. Look for this month’s girl-driven storytelling contest – focused on growth mindset – to launch later this week.
I loved everything about my time in Sparks so it’s hard to narrow down just one thing! I really enjoyed getting to go away to my first weekend camp (I still love camping to this day!). I loved the sense of independence it gave me – being away from home for the first time can be a bit scary when you’re young, but knowing I was with my Spark unit made it the easiest experience. Plus, sharing bunk beds with your best friends is always a blast!
How did you feel attending Sparks?
Sparks made me feel confident and independent. I loved that it gave me a chance to be the silliest, truest version of myself in front of a group of other girls. It helped me learn how to make new friends, how to be confident enough to speak in front of large groups, and how to set goals and achieve them (earning badges was the MOST fun!).
Can you share a favourite memory or experience from Sparks?
My favourite memories from Sparks definitely revolves around cookie selling (and cookie eating – they’re still my favourite!). I loved getting to go to the local mall with my Sparks unit to sell cookies and talk to everyone about all the fun we had in Girl Guides. I still love sales and have been in a professional sales role for over eight years. Would you encourage young girls to join Sparks? If so, why?
Absolutely! I can honestly say that my time in Sparks (and then Brownies, Guides, and Pathfinders) shaped me into the woman I am today. Girl Guides helped me learn to be comfortable in my own skin, taught me that it’s okay to be a girl and be a leader, and gave me the confidence to meet new people and try new things.
Courtney Wong – Store Director, J.Crew
What was your favourite thing about Sparks?
My favourite thing about Sparks was meeting new friends both from my elementary school, as well as neighbouring schools. Most importantly, I met my best friend Natalie in Sparks and we have been friends for over 25 years!
How did you feel attending Sparks?
I was super shy growing up, so naturally at first I was a bit nervous! Once I realized many of the other Sparks went to the same elementary school, as well as lived in the same neighbourhood as myself, we would countdown the number of sleeps to our next meet-up!
Can you share a favourite memory or experience from Sparks?
My favourite memory from Sparks is wearing my pink Sparks T-shirt with my childhood best friends and singing our favourite camp songs at the top of our lungs. I am the oldest sister in my family and my pink Sparks T-shirt was passed down to each of my sisters. To this day, we still know all the words to our favourite songs from Girl Guides!
Would you encourage young girls to join Sparks?
Totally! Everyone, especially young girls need a safe and inclusive space to explore. By joining Sparks and continuing on with Girl Guides, I learned the importance of female relationships, feeling empowered to learn and explore new things, and to gain the confidence to use my voice. There is something really special about watching young girls grow into strong, powerful leaders and building positive relationships with one another. One of the most rewarding things about my job, is to guide my team and to watch them grow from associates into strong, fearless leaders!
Be part of the Sparks 30th anniversary celebration – get your classic Sparks T-shirt and join in our promise to ‘share and be a friend.’
Don’t underestimate younger girls. Our Sparks start every meeting by reciting the Promise: “I promise to share and be a friend.” This year I learned that our young Sparks understand that the Promise is more than a fancy phrase, but a way to live. Over the past year our Sparks demonstrated their understanding of their Promise by filling a Birthday Box for a young girl in Canada’s North, spreading cheer with Valentines for Veterans, and learning to take care of their friends with their very own first aid kits.
Lesson 2: Engineers are not just for trains!
We celebrated National Engineering Month with a visit from two engineers from Engspire. At first the girls were slightly disappointed that they were not engineers from trains, but they soon learned that these engineers could teach them some really fantastic things like building flashlights and catapults on their own.
Lesson 3: There Is No Such Thing As Too Much Glitter
If you turn your back on a Spark with a jar of glitter, your Spark will be much more sparkly.
Also glitter is hard to clean up.
Also Girl Guide cookies make great gifts for school caretakers who help clean up said glitter.
Lesson 4: Glue
See Comments re: Glitter
Lesson 5: Cookies Have Magic Powers
It is undeniable that Girl Guide cookies are delicious. This year I also discovered that Girl Guide cookies are more than delicious snacks – they have the magic power to turn quiet little girls into a supercharged group crushing cookies sales. I brought a group of girls to sell cookies at our local subway station. At the beginning of the day they were shy and quiet – but by the end they were confidently selling their cookies, coming up with creative marketing ideas and having a blast.
Lesson 6: Things don’t always go according to plan – and that’s totally OK
Sometimes carefully planned meetings don’t go quite according to plan. Sometimes the girls want to play and giggle (and play with glitter). Lesson learned – sometimes you just have to go with the flow!
Okay, I couldn’t stop at just six things – here’s one more thing I learned this year:
In my past two years as a Guider I’ve slept in a science centre, been to camp, discovered the recipe for a campfire treat called a ‘hairy beast,’ learned to Hug a Tree, made new friends and figured out just how long glitter stays stuck to a Guider’s uniform. Life experiences learned from six year olds!
Guest post by Angela Comella, a Guider with the 314th Spark/Brownie/Guide/Pathfinder Guiding Unit. In her non-Guiding life, she spends her days amongst books and briefs as a lawyer.
Be part of the Sparks 30th anniversary celebration with a classic Sparks T-shirt and join in our promise to ‘share and be a friend.’
Girls are under a lot of social pressure these days. They’re asked to be everything at once: smart, pretty, nice, athletic, ambitious and successful. And when they don’t meet the world’s expectations (because they’re impossible!), the judgments are often swift and harsh.
Girls need a safe space where they feel supported, respected and valued for being just who they are. Fortunately, Guiding offers just such a space.
Safe space is hard to define but we all know what it
feels like. It’s the feeling you get when you can relax and share your most
authentic self with the people around you. Safe space allows you to be silly
without feeling self-conscious and share personal stories without being judged.
And it encourages you to try new things, make mistakes and take risks knowing
there’s a soft place to land.
Take for example the super confidence-boost that volunteer
Guider Theressa’s own daughter Alex gets from Girl Guides:
“Reading my 11-year old daughter’s report card. One area for improvement was that she needed to get better at speaking up in class. She said it’s hard for her to speak in front of people. I reminded her that she loved being an MC for our huge community awards ceremony, standing in front of about 300 people and speaking for a couple of hours. Her response: ‘That’s different Mommy. It’s Girl Guides. I’m safe. People don’t judge you there.” – Theressa A., Ontario
When one of our Sparks dressed as a police officer for our Halloween party, another girl told her ‘That’s a boy’s job.’ Our response? We invited six local women police officers to our meeting the following week to show what girls CAN do. Here’s how it all went down:
After our Spark was told that policing was a boy’s job, she took her costume off before leaving for home. She didn’t even want to wear it anymore for Halloween. My heart broke.
My co-Guider, Jellybean (aka Melissa Hedges), and I were concerned to say the least and simultaneously came up with the idea to see if we could invite some women in policing to come to a meeting to turn this into an empowering opportunity for our unit. With a little help from my best friend in New Brunswick with policing connections, I was soon in contact with so many officers wanting to participate that I lost count. In the end we were able to have six members of the Ottawa Police attend our next meeting. It was simply amazing!
One brought a story, another brought pins and activities, and three were in full uniform. We invited one Brownie from another unit – she’d worn a police officer’s costume for Halloween as that is what she wants to be when she grows up. (Even my daughter in another Guiding unit wanted to come because she ‘knows a police officer.’) Our own Spark and the Brownie both wore their police costumes, and the Brownie even wore a T-shirt underneath that had pictures of women in non-traditional roles with the words “She can do it” underneath. Seeing girls choosing to be a police officer for Halloween gives hope. It wasn’t a pretend costume; this is something they can do.
Melissa and I were amazed and so happy this all worked out, especially to see how many police officers WANTED to come to our Girl Guide meeting. Part of Guiding is showing girls they can be what they want and how they can help bust stereotypes. We were able to show our Sparks and Brownie that girls and women CAN be in positions of power and that even within the police force there are many different types of roles. I felt their sisterhood just like I feel the Girl Guide sisterhood when I go to events with fellow Guiders.
For me this was overwhelming, but in a good way. I recently lost my dear friend Robb Costello, a member of the Fredericton Police Force who was shot in the line of duty. Seeing these girls took my breath away, because it reminded me there are others to take up the mantle. Being able to have these extraordinary role models attend our little meeting left Melissa and I with a great sense of accomplishment and hopefully with an evening the girls won’t soon forget.
Guest post by Andrea Cook, a Sparks Guider in Kanata, ON.
My favourite part of volunteering with Guiding is that light bulb moment – when you see a girl’s face light up with understanding, pride, or a feeling of accomplishment. One such moment happened early this Guiding year with a Brownie named Callie. It was just one of those moments that made me stop, smile to myself, and think, “This is why I do this.”
As the Guiding year was getting started, we asked the girls to choose their own circle leaders. The parameters we gave them were simple: their circle leader needed to be a second-year girl; they could use any method to choose their leader; any second-year girl not chosen as a circle leader would be a circle second; and most importantly, they all had to come to an agreement.
One group did rock paper scissors, and one group just instantly came to an agreement. But one group had a lot of trouble choosing and they just could not agree. Finally, the two second-year girls agreed to let the two first-year girls choose their leader. After a very serious conversation, the girls announced they had chosen Callie. And Callie’s face immediately lit up in a huge smile. “Really!?” she said. “That’s so nice! Thank you! I never get chosen as leader for anything!”
“Callie was so excited to be circle leader and the whole walk home all she talked about was how she got chosen and how the other girls picked her,” Callie’s mother Janice told me later. “I think being chosen circle leader by her fellow Brownies will definitely help boost her confidence and drive to do better.”
I love watching each girl come into her own, finding empowerment in her own way. It might be a girl who’s struggling with a certain skill, but finally getting it. Sometimes it’s the look on a girl’s face when she does an experiment and proves her hypothesis right, or the look of pride when a girl overcomes her homesickness to stay the night at camp. Sometimes it’s a shy girl coming out of her shell and making new Guiding friends.
I also love watching the girls learn to work together to accomplish a team task. You can almost feel the confidence growing, and the message soaking in that girls can do great things when they work together.
I’ll keep volunteering to keep giving girls those moments of awesomeness, knowing that I’m doing my part to empower these amazing girls to be anything they want to be.
Guest post by Jennifer Pierce, Brownie Guider and Deputy District Commissioner in Eastern Passage, NS.
No matter who you are or where you live, we’re all entitled to human rights. That’s what Girl Guides in Winnipeg would tell you on Human Rights Day (December 10) and every day. With a trip to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, they discovered the very real power they have to stand up for everyone’s rights. Unit Guider Jennifer explains:
As the evening began, a buzz of excitement filled the air. Our first stop was the What are Human Rights gallery. As Guiders, we stood back and let the girls take the lead in how they wanted to explore. We watched with pride as each girl was drawn into a different exhibit, reading stories on what people in history viewed as ‘human rights’. We fielded so many thoughtful questions from the Guides. Some examples were, why was it like that? Or, how could they have treated people like that?
As the evening progressed, we explored spaces devoted to the First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and their views on human rights. Here the girls took in the sights of beautiful hand-beaded tapestries along the walls and stories of a peoples treated unjustly for many years. In the Canadian Journeys gallery, we reflected on both the freedoms and the discrimination people faced within our own Canadian heritage.
We closed our evening in the Inspiring Change gallery, where the girls took their own thoughts and feelings about love, beliefs and change and left empowering messages on the walls to share with visitors from around the world. Their messages were so moving and honest. Some chose to write about ending discrimination and fighting for equality while others added messages of love and hope…visions of a brighter, stronger, united future… together.
I believe that each girl gained so much from this outing and that it changed them in some way, both broadening their views on the world around them and strengthening their knowledge that they each have the power to bring about positivity and change in the world. It’s through Girl Guide outings like this that girls can discover that they have the power to change the world’s thinking. Girls can truly do anything – we just need to let girls guide the way. The CMHR has not seen the last of the Winnipeg 99th Girl Guides. We will be back.
Guest post by Jennifer Franzin, a Guider with the 99th Winnipeg Girl Guides. Do you have a story of a unique unit activity you’d like to share? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
What happens when girls meet women with awe-inspiring career trajectories? Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how inspiring women role models can help girls reach for the stars. That’s what happened when Girl Guides in Paradise, NL, met Bethany Downer, the first scientist-astronaut candidate from Newfoundland and Labrador.
When she isn’t training for a potential future space journey, Bethany works in the international space sector, speaking on behalf of space organizations, planning astronomy events and more. She’s also a big time believer in girls setting big time dreams for themselves – that anything is possible and they too can be absolutely everything they want to be.
Hearing how Bethany blazed her own career path was an out-of-this-world experience for girls – a chance to see what they too might achieve one day. It was all systems go as Bethany described the endless opportunities available in the space industry, highlighted her educational journey in science (geography) and space studies, and spoke about her recent weightlessness training. She was even more excited to hear from the girls. (After all, Guiding is that girl-friendly place where girls know they can raise their hands in confidence.) Bethany fielded queries about her favourite planet, whether she believes in aliens and how she will sleep in space.
Only two Canadian women know what our planet looks like from space – Dr. Roberta Bondar, a neurologist and former Girl Guide, and current Governor General Julie Payette. As for who’s next, perhaps it’s one of the Brownies, Guides or Pathfinders who heard Bethany speak. Who knows, one of these girls might take a mission to Mars, or maybe they’ll invent a new career path for themselves. When girls have the chance to build their confidence through the kinds of activities Guiding offers, it’s a whole lot easier for them to stretch their limits. After all, a little inspiration from an aspiring female astronaut can go a long way in sparking a girl’s interest.
Guest post by Leslie Earle, a Pathfinder Guider in Paradise, NL. She is a former girl member and has also volunteered with Sparks, Brownies and Guides.
Daring. Courageous. Risk-taker. These are all words that describe Viola Desmond, who’s featured on a the new Canadian $10 bank note. In 1946, the Nova Scotia business woman refused to leave a whites-only area of a movie theater. When it would’ve been easier to sit down and stay quiet, Desmond stood up and spoke out for equality –facing arrest and conviction as a result. Viola is the first Canadian woman to appear on a bank note.
A trailblazer in her time, Desmond is an icon today – and her sister Wanda Robson, who’s mentored countless girls as a longtime member of Girl Guides of Canada, is proudly keeping her legacy alive. Robson joined Guiding when her daughter came home from school asking to be a Brownie. She refers to the day she was asked to join Girl Guides as “my lucky day.” Guiding became such a part of her life that her family refers to it as “one of my other homes.”
Wanda and Viola at the Hi-Hat Club, Boston, ca. 1950. (via Bank of Canada)
When asked what drew her to join and remain in Guiding, Wanda talks about finding a place that she felt comfortable and accepted. She loves the interaction with the girls, watching them come out of their shells and their sense of achievement when they accomplish something. Reminiscing about her time in Guiding she talks about the way girls throw their arms around each other when they complete a challenge and how the older girls are such role models for younger girls.
“Once you are a member, you are always a member,” Wanda says of her unwavering commitment to Guiding. The value of Guiding to today’s girls is very real, she emphasizes. “The Guiding Movement makes young girls realize who they are, their potential, that they aren’t just in the background. It gives them a foundation of knowing who they are and that ‘I can do that’… I marvel at what Guiding has to offer girls. It gives them such confidence.”
Wanda Robson making the very first purchase with Canada’s new $10 bill, featuring her sister Viola Desmond. (Bank of Canada image)
Guest post by Catherine Miller-Mort, who works in the archives at Girl Guides of Canada’s national office.
Remembrance of wars past. Fear of conflict today. These simple but powerful concepts are on the minds of girls across Canada as we mark Remembrance Day 2018. Somehow, we often forget that war and violent conflict – whether 100 years ago or today – affects and involves young people. Yet teens aren’t often asked about their opinions on these topics.
Shining a light on the fear of war and the hope for peace
In this research, girls shared that they see Remembrance Day as an important time to honour the sacrifices of those who’ve served their country, whether as soldiers or on the home front. They also believe Remembrance Day is about honouring peace builders and thinking of those currently affected by war around the world. After all, girls today often have a personal connection to the impact of war beyond the lessons of their history classroom. Many girls in Canada have welcomed those fleeing global conflicts to their communities, classrooms, and Girl Guide units – or may even themselves have experienced conflict firsthand. Some have neighbours or family members who’ve been deployed overseas.
How girls are fostering peace in their daily lives
Teen girls are also telling us that a majority (63%) are concerned that they might experience war in their lifetime. Concern is significantly higher among girls who’ve met someone with firsthand experience of war, such as those who have met a refugee or a veteran. How we can we support girls who have these concerns? We start by providing a safe space for girls to discuss what matters to them and how, together, we can build a better world by girls. Through actions big and small every day, girls themselves are fostering peace through their own leadership, community service and building connections with their peers.
On November 11, many Girl Guides will proudly participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies. They will honour those who have served and acknowledge their responsibility to work for the peace they fought to accomplish.
The launch of Guiding’s brand new Girls First program is a pretty big deal. Innovative science and tech activities. Outdoor adventures. The chance for girls to talk about what really matters to them. And. So. Much. More. The new Girl Guide program was totally designed to fit with what girls really want. That’s why we had to celebrate our new program in a really big way – and did we ever.
Across the country, girls led the way in planning and running Girls First Launch Parties. Pathfinders and Rangers served as Launch Leaders, designing events that allowed girls in Guiding to test drive activities in the new program and discover their favourites. Along the way, our launch leaders picked up some resume-ready skills like event planning, public speaking, and more.
“Girls got to discover new things about themselves and try exciting activities,” said Caitriona, a Girl Guide Launch Leader and member of our National Youth Council. “It was cool to be part of a group of people and make new friends while feeling the welcoming sisterhood of Guiding! This is such an important and positive change in the program and it is important to spread the word and get girls talking about it and sharing it with their units. The option to bring a friend got everyone involved and learning about how positive Guiding is in young girls’ lives.”
Guiding has always been a place where girls can experiment, design, create and imagine as they explore the infinite possibilities of science and technology. (After all, Aeronautics was one of the first badges ever in Canadian Guiding.) Now, Guiding’s new Girls First program takes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) exploration to a whole new level.
As a civil design technologist by day and Girl Guide volunteer by night, I’m a huge fan of Guiding’s new Experiment and Create program area that’s part of the new Girls First program. It really lets girls explore not only science, technology, engineering and math, but also the world of design. This pulls the program in alignment with the new acronym of STEAM – an acronym that integrates the importance of art and design in STEM careers, whether in the form of prototyping, modelling, programming, and conceptual sketching. It can also involve using 3D printers, laser cutters, computer coding like Sketch, or plain-old paper and pencils to learn how to create new inventions or improve existing ones.
Through activities in the Science Lab and Design Space themes, girls will discover how engineering can now be so much more than marshmallow bridges, and math can be so much more than a Pi day party. Instead, units might explore robotics or digital arts at local makerspaces. They might tour local science-based employers like technology companies, composting facilities, research institutions, smelters, pulp mills or farming operations, and do related experiments and activities in the unit. Or, they might use Skype a Scientist to learn about something they’ve never imagined. It’s totally open to girls to explore what the Design Space and Science Lab themes mean to them.
Not every Girl Guide exposed to STEAM will pursue a related career, but that exposure can be invaluable to members who discover the STEAM career that is perfect for them. I was in Grade 11 when I googled “who builds bridges” and discovered civil engineering. Even then, I struggled with self-doubt and a lack of confidence that, as a woman, I could pursue such a career. The Girls First program’s exposure to STEAM at every age will help girls discover and hone their interests, and help them see that they can be biologists, mathematicians, geoscientists, or get a job in a field that may not even exist yet (lunar engineer, anyone?). Regardless of a girl’s chosen path, a solid introduction to STEAM will give her a foundation to solve world problems and make a difference in shaping her world.
Guest post by Anne Simonen, a Guider with the 1st Nelson Guides in B.C. and Kootenay Area PR Adviser.
Do you have a story about how your unit is enjoying the new Girls First program? Share it on the blog! Email us: email@example.com
Alexis Holmgren is a Girl Guide who’s a total goal-getter when it comes to advocating for what she believes in. And what she believes in is making sure all girls and women feel welcome in Guiding. As someone who lives with multiple rare medical conditions, Alexis has been a strong voice in speaking up for inclusion. She’s a total powerhouse with big ideas who’s taken on many leadership roles in Guiding, including running a diversity and inclusion session for Girl Guides in Alberta. She also recently joined the Girl Guides national Diversity and Inclusivity action team, providing input on how Guiding can attract and retain diverse members from communities and populations who are currently not well-represented in Guiding. Looking ahead to her future, Alexis aspires to go into the field of genetics so she can help others suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
This year, Alexis was awarded a Fortitude Award from Girl Guides of Canada in recognition of her perseverance, dedication and unstoppable passion for Guiding and inclusion. As her award commendation notes, Alexis has the ‘bright spirit of a unicorn and the courage of a lioness’. Here’s what Alexis has to say about how Guiding helped her turn her ambition into positive action:
“When I think of the 11 years I have been a member of Girl Guides, the words that come to mind are friendship, advocacy, leadership, opportunity, growth, skills, and of course fun. Guiding has truly shaped the person I am today, enabling me to become a better leader, build confidence, and discover what I am passionate about.
“From starting as a Brownie at the age of 8 to serving on the Alberta Council Youth Forum, and becoming a Link member this fall, Guiding has always been there to help me grow. Through Girl Guides, I found my inspiration to seek change and advocate for diversity and inclusion after I was diagnosed with a rare, genetic heart condition called Long QT Syndrome at the age of 12. By continuing my involvement in Guiding after my diagnosis, I was able to prove to myself and others that there are many things I am still capable of doing as a person with differences. Guiding also taught me to emphasize and use my strengths.
“While I might not be able to run, I have discovered my talents for organization, planning, and earning badges. Now that I’ve ‘graduated’ as a girl member, I am excited to continue my involvement as an adult Link member to give back after all that I have been given in Guiding. Guiding is still that place where I can continue to participate in opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise be able to have. Guiding is how I want to continue my advocacy efforts. I can’t imagine my life without being a Girl Guide.”
We’re interrupting your day to bring you this important announcement: Girl Guide cookies are here. And they are the ULTIMATE in everything.
Girl Guides sell some 6 million boxes of cookies every year. That’s a lot of tasty goodness. And this weekend Girl Guides will be in your neighbourhood with cookies at the ready for Cookie Days in Canada.
But our cookies are more than just a cookie. So. Much. More. Find out why Girl Guide cookies are the ULTIMATE treat.
Girl Guide cookies power amazing experiences for girls – which we’re putting front and centre on our brand new box designs. Whether it’s going on her first canoe trip, conquering a rock wall or participating in a science and engineering workshop, Girl Guide cookie sales help fund life-changing experiences for girls in your community. This fall, you can buy one of eight new chocolotey mint cookie boxes showcasing the range of activities and friendships that are part of the Guiding experience.
Be sure to get a box or two or five before they’re all gobbled up…
Girls also develop some pretty sweet skills through cookie sales. Goal setting. Project planning. Money management. Teamwork. Cookie selling gives girls an edge with the kinds of marketable skills that pay off when they’re applying for their first job, an internship or a post-secondary opportunity.
Forget Dragons’ Den – Girl Guides could give a master class in entrepreneurism. In 1927, Girl Guides in Regina baked and sold cookies to raise funds for a camping trip. And so our iconic fundraiser was born.
(1957, from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives)
Girl Guide cookies are an out-of-this-world sensation. As a Girl Guide, Roberta Bondar earned her Astronomy badge. As Canada’s first female astronaut, neurologist Roberta Bondar made sure to pack her favourite treat – Girl Guide cookies.
When you need your cookie connection, there’s a map for that. Cookie Days in Canada is this weekend (October 13 and 14) – and our members will be bringing cookies right to your door, to your local mall and beyond. Our cookie finder map helps you find the cookies you want no matter where you are in Canada.
Every girl should have an equal start. The chance at a fair race in whatever path she chooses. The opportunity to thrive. This is what we’re all about at Girl Guides – but it’s also what today, International Day of the Girl, is about, too!
To learn more about young people’s experiences with inequality, GGC partnered with Ipsos this fall to commission a nationwide survey of teens. Here’s what teens, ages 12-17, told us:
Two in three (65%) teens agree there is currently an inequality between girls and boys in Canada – in terms of social, economic and/or political rights.
For girls who say they have been personally impacted by gender inequality, more than half (54%) say they first noticed gender inequality in their lives between the ages of 10 and 13.
Clearly, young people are seeing inequality in action – and this inequality is impacting girls sooner than you might think.
Girls, in their own words It can be hard for adults to imagine how girls as young as 10 would face gender inequality in society – so we asked girls about it. In their own words, girls in our survey said:
They feel dismissed or overshadowed.
“I have felt that my opinions aren’t often taken as seriously because I am not a boy.”
“In sports and sometimes in mixed groups… the guys are louder so it is harder to express yourself.”
They face negative stereotypes that limit their potential.
“I had people pre-judge me when I walked into a woodshop class. They thought I wouldn’t be able to do any of the work.”
“Many boys in my school have said they can do sports better than girls and they challenge us to do athletic activities and always say they will obviously win because they are boys and we are girls.”
They’re held to different rules.
“My brothers are allowed to stay out later than me because, ‘You’re a girl. It’s not safe to be out after dark.’”
“I got in trouble for pushing a boy to the ground after he’d pinned me to a wall to kiss me. The teacher said he was just being my friend and I needed to be nicer.”
“Dress codes in school make me feel like I am a problem.”
#LetGirlsGuide Not nice enough. Not strong enough. Not loud enough to be heard. Not smart enough to be taken seriously. Given that these are the messages girls hear, it’s more important than ever to make sure they have safe spaces where they can be valued for who they are and take their lead as the experts on their own needs and experiences. Girls agree: 81% of girls told us that it is important for them to have access to spaces dedicated to girls and women. When girls can support and empower each other in a safe space, they are better equipped to take on the challenges facing them, head on.
Another year of Girl Guides is starting up in units all across Canada. And yes, girls and volunteer Guiders are just a little bit excited. And why wouldn’t they be? Guiding really is an all-access pass for girls to explore, experiment, design and create their own adventures – and the ultimate place where every girl knows she belongs.