Supporting the work of the Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN), the Grassroot Grannies advocate through displays, speaking engagements, media, letter writing campaigns, and participating in organized advocacy events. We have signed petitions, spoken to our MPs and marched on Parliament Hill several times urging our federal government to keep their promises.  

On this page of our website, we are now including the GRAN Updates on a bi-monthly basis.

GRAN Update - June 2017
Advocating for grandmothers, vulnerable children and youth in Sub-Saharan Africa

Canadian grannies 
African grannies

A new funding program (with resources re-directed from existing funds) will support local women’s organizations in developing countries. The Policy also makes a commitment to a minimum of 50% of bilateral aid directed to Sub-Saharan African countries by 2021-22 (this does not include multilateral aid which goes to organizations such as the Global Fund and the Global Partnership for Education).  The IAP presents a bold new vision and approach. GRAN was one of the contributors to the consultation process and applauds this new vision. We look forward to seeing new resources to match this ambitious plan. Click here to listen to Minister Bibeau’s full speech.


This has been an exciting time for education as Julia Gillard, the chair of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), has been attending board meetings in Ottawa from June 5th to 7th. Two of our education working group members were invited to attend the side events and had the opportunity of speaking with her.
We are also pleased to announce that Belgium has been the first country to announce its pledge to the GPE third replenishment campaign. Julia Gillard stated that the global education crisis needs to be at the front of the minds of all world leaders. "Prime ministers and presidents need to see education as a necessary investment, akin to the investments they make in national infrastructure and defense."   

Valerie Wright, Julia Gillard and Diane Woods at the GPE Board meetings in Ottawa
The First Feminist International Assistance Policy is announced.
Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced Canada's long-awaited International Assistance Policy (IAP) on June 9th. Described by the Minister as Canada’s first feminist international assistance policy, the policy adopts a human rights approach and outlines six inter-linked areas for action: 
• Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, 
• Human dignity, 
• Growth that works for everyone, 
• Environment and climate change, 
• Inclusive governance and 
• Peace and security. 

Canada too will soon make a commitment of desperately needed funds to the GPE for the next three years.  Education is the foundation of economic growth and stability and a pathway out of poverty and aid dependency. Now is the time for Canada to step up with a commitment that makes us all feel proud to be Canadians. Let’s show the world that working together we can have all children in school.

What can GRANs do?

1) Visit or write to your MP over the summer – see “GRAN Actions” at the end of this Update.

2) Organize an event in your community during the summer or the fall.
One new tool we now have on our website is a creative Readers Theatre which is intended to raise awareness of the barriers many girls face in accessing education in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the work of Phyllis Webster and all questions and enquiries should be directed to her at this link.

This play could be used for a high school audience, presentation in youth groups, church congregations or community groups interested in social justice issues. It covers some sensitive topics and it is important that these are dealt with respectfully.

Phyllis Webster with a High School class

Ending Violence against Women – Orange Campaign. 

We are excited and encouraged that many GRANs have already started planning their events and activities for the Orange Campaign November 25 to December 10, 2017. The United Nations theme this year is “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls”  
To assist you, updated materials including a backgrounder, template letters and suggested social media actions will soon be available on the website. We are looking forward to our best Campaign ever!

Access to Medicines

International Trade Agreements: We are continuing to be vigilant on future trade agreements and their possible impact on access to medicines. On May 4th GRAN was represented at an initial consultation at Global Affairs on the reopening of the NAFTA agreement. We were told by Canada’s chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, that Canada had not yet embarked on negotiations but that a website on NAFTA has been launched inviting individuals to make their views known. We will be making a submission shortly. It was an honour to be invited to these initial consultations.
GRAN was also invited to attend a session at Global Affairs concerning Access to Medicines, preceding possible negotiations of a China Canada Trade agreement. Two expert guests, Jason Nickerson from MSF and Professor Ronald Labonte from Ottawa University, both made excellent points on the dangers to public health and medicines imposed by International Trade agreements.

Africa Canada Forum AGM

Pat Dolan and Hilary Elliott recently had the opportunity to attend the Annual Meeting of one of our partners, the Africa Canada Forum of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC). The two-day conference featured an assessment of the federal government’s commitments in Africa, a strategic discussion on policy dialogue for a future meeting with Global Affairs Canada, humanitarian crises in Sub-Saharan Africa and a session on sexual and reproductive health rights.  The meeting provided lots of information and an opportunity for us to connect with other civil society organizations focused on Africa.  If you would like a copy of the brief notes taken at the meeting, please email Hilary Elliott.

On April 24th, a one day Regional GRAN Conference was held in Brighton, Ontario hosted by GRAN Northumberland, with the theme, “Sharing – Learning – Connecting”. The idea behind the conference was to bring people together from across southeastern Ontario for a day of learning and sharing. An important goal was also to create a better understanding of the needs of the area’s GRAN participants. 

The conference attracted 41 GRANs and members of G2G groups from a wide range of communities across the region, including Port Perry, Fenelon Falls, Bay of Quinte, Mississauga, Oakville, Toronto, Cobourg, Port Hope, Peterborough and Brighton. 

Southeastern Ontario GRAN Conference

Janet Siddall started the day off by presenting an overview of GRAN and the Older Women’s Report. She also provided an update of the Violence against Women Working Groups. Updates were also provided of the GRAN’s issues including Access to Medicines by Edna McKim, Education by Sharon Graham.
In an environment of open communication and sharing, participants also spent some quality time talking about their experiences with the Orange Campaign to date and their ideas for the 2017 campaign across the region. 

Organizers Sharon Graham and Joyce Nicholson were pleased with the way the event unfolded. Sharon said, “We believed that our objectives had been met and many of those attending left the conference feeling ‘inspired’ and ‘determined to do more’ within their groups and communities”. 

 In Memory of Dorothy Johns

The world lost a social justice warrior last month with the death of Dorothy Johns. Dorothy was a member of Grandmothers of Steel (Ontario Regional Resources Group) and a founding member of the Golden Horseshoe GRANs. She was a frequent contributor to the Hamilton Spectator’s “Letters to the Editor” section. She wrote about gender inequality, HIV/AIDS, raising minimum wage and any issues needing a social conscience advocate. Dorothy’s voice will never be silenced as anyone who ever heard her speak, without notes, cannot forget that powerful voice. We will carry the torch as members of GRAN and be her voice.
Lovingly submitted by Barb Howe GHG co-chair

GRAN Actions over the summer

1) Write or visit your local MP while they are in their home ridings this summer. Convince them of the vital importance of education and the need for Canada to be generous in its contribution to the Global Partnership for Education replenishment campaign. The backgrounder “Education for all” found on our website  under “resources for education” will be helpful. There will be a “leave behind” for MPs available on the website by the end of June. If you write to your MP, please cc the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau. Click here to find out who your local MP is by using your postal code.

2) Write or visit your local MP and let them know you support the vision and approach of the newly announced International Assistance Policy. Ask them if they have had a chance to read it and encourage them to do so if they have not. Let them know that you are very disappointed, however, that the Policy does not come with any new funding and that the Government needs to back the policy up with funding in the next Budget. Again please cc the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau.
3)Plan an event either during the summer or in the fall in which you raise awareness of the desperate need for quality education in sub-Saharan Africa. Use the Readers Theatre, the education power point or simply have a discussion. Follow your event with a letter writing session – see details above.

4)Start planning your Orange Campaign events using the updated materials found on our website.

Heads Up – Grassroots Recruitment Drive

We are planning to target October for a grassroots recruitment drive. You will be hearing more about this in future GRAN Updates but keep it in mind and you will likely come up with some good ideas that fit your community.

Next GRAN Update will be at the end of August. Many, many thanks for all the work you do in support of GRAN and the African grandmothers. Have a well-earned, wonderful restful summer.

Minister Bibeau launches new International Assistance Policy