IWIN (I'm Worth It Now) is an initiative started in 2019 by the St. Michaels CWL Council in Calgary, with the support of the Calgary Diocesan CWL Council. IWIN assists survivors of human sexual trafficking in Canada, the majority of whom are women and Canadian born. Human trafficking is an issue that is prevalent across Canada and happens to people from all walks of life.
IWIN has a two-fold purpose:
to raise awareness about human sexual trafficking in Canada. Human sexual trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes due to the exceptionally high profits from one trafficked person, which ranges from $200,000 - $600,000 per person, per year. Compare this to the Canadian Income Survey which found that in 2018 the average Alberta family earned $72,700 per year.
to support survivors who are escaping this lifestyle by providing them with a backpack of basic necessities, along with a card of encouragement and a bracelet that matches a prayer partner’s bracelet. The cost of one complete IWIN backpack is approximately $100 (including the cost of the backpack). The backpack contents are carefully vetted by IWIN Executive to ensure items are appropriate and do not trigger undue emotions from the past experiences of the survivors.
IWIN backpacks are distributed by agencies which provide wrap-around services to the survivors. In Calgary, IWIN distributed backpacks through RESET Society of Calgary and has since expanded to Hope Restored Canada (Saskatoon) and recently to CEASE (Edmonton). Since its inception in 2019, IWIN has provided over 100 backpacks to survivors of human trafficking and anticipates providing 100 more in 2022.
IWIN has received lots of feedback about the backpacks, with recipients stating things such as:
“The card is in my room and the words of encouragement and love in there keep me going some days when I feel like giving up.”
“Thank-you for the backpack! It was so nice to get at a time that I did not have much.”
“If one individual or organization believes in us, perhaps we can then begin to contemplate having faith in ourselves.”
“This backpack meant more to me than just a bag of clothes. It gave me hope there is still good in this world”.
Father John Nemanic (IWIN Spiritual Advisor) blesses the backpacks before they are distributed.
The Canadian Catholic Women’s League of Canada was formed 100 years ago for the purpose of helping exploited and immigrant women and children. IWIN is continuing this legacy. IWIN fits into all three core values of the CWL – Faith, Service and Justice: Faithful prayer warriors for every backpack recipient; the Service of providing backpacks of basic necessities to survivors of human trafficking and awareness raising to bring Justice to this atrocity. Furthermore, with CWL’s presence across Canada, IWIN can expand to all locations in our country where help is most needed.
Pope Francis has called all of us to respond, stating:
“The Catholic Church intends to intervene in every phase of the trafficking of human beings: she wants to protect them from deception and solicitation; she wants to find them and free them when they are transported and reduced to slavery; she wants to assist them once they are freed. Often the people who are trapped and mistreated lose the ability to trust others, and the Church often proves to be the last lifeline. It is absolutely essential to respond in a concrete way to the vulnerability of those who are at risk, so as to then guide the process of liberation beginning with saving their lives…”.
The support of CWL Councils and members through prayer, awareness raising and financial assistance is immeasurable to the survivors. For this reason, IWIN has been selected as the featured charity for the 2022 Calgary Diocesan Convention. Councils are also asked to consider a monetary donation. Donations of any amount are helpful and greatly appreciated. Make cheques payable to IWIN and bring them with you to the Registration desk at the convention.
For more information, see IWIN's website, join their email list at and follow on social media (Instagram: @iwin_calgary_; Facebook: facebook.com/iwincalgary or Twitter: @iwin_Calgary)
DATE: October 9, 2020 FROM: Marie C. Rackley, national chairperson of community life TO: Parish chairpersons of community life
My dear League sisters,
I pray this memo finds you and your council ready to start another year of service for your community. It will be completely different from previous years, but we can still reach out and help those in need. COVID-19 has certainly upset the world as we knew it, but we are thankful for living in such a wonderful country.
Day of Prayer for Christians in the Holy Land On September 21st, members celebrated the League’s first annual National Day of Prayer for Christians in the Holy Land. I received many positive comments from members across Canada. Below is one of the e-mails forwarded to me by national office.
Are you looking for something to read? As reported by National Life Member Liaison Ann Doucet, Honorary Life Member Ardis Beaudry and Life Member Rose-Marie McCarthy have published a book entitled WINning: The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs of Opening a Women’s Shelter about the early founders of one of the first women’s shelters in Canada.
The book is described as one that “tells the story of how a disparate group of women (and a few men) saw a need to help women and young girls coming to Edmonton with no place to go, and found a way to address that need through pure determination in the late 1960s/early 1970s, at a time when the concept of a women’s shelter was an unknown entity. Four of the early founders, Ardis Beaudry, Rose-Marie McCarthy, Phyllis Ellis and Lynn Hannley formed a committee to produce the book in conjunction with author Marsha Mildon. The book chronicles the 50-year history (1970-2020) and the stories of the people and organizations who founded, funded, volunteered, and stayed at Edmonton Women's Shelter and the subsequent shelters, WIN House I, WIN House II, and WIN House III (Carol's House).”
The book pays tribute to the founders, church groups and secular agencies, volunteers and staff who created and continue to provide safe shelters for women in need. For more information and book orders, visit enable.org/winning or e-mail .
Geraldine Clarahan reports from St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Casa Grande, AZ, on "40 cans for 40 days", a great Lenten project to help the poor. Boxes are set up at the back of the church to collect the donated cans (or boxes / bags) of food, and all can participate.
The other Lenten Project by the women's organization of the parish, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, is that they gave a "little Black Book" to all members of the parish. "The Little Black Book" contains six-minute meditations on the Sunday Gospels of Lent. Very simple and beautiful way to pray during Lent.
The parish has a money collection also...it is called "rice bowls" and you pick up a box and put money in it during Lent.
St. Mary's Council Brooks provided Comfort Care Bags for people in need at the local nursing homes mid-March. Members sewed beautiful bags and filled them with Body Wash, Shampoo, Detangle Combs, Teeth Cleaner, etc.
For years I have enjoyed and welcomed the month of September as it brings me back to reality and helps me focus on current issues and future endeavours. I begin to focus on activities of several organizations I belong to, but especially my parish council meetings, which bring me in contact with my League sisters as I catch up on their news. What a wonderful way to share the love of God and the love of Our Lady of Good Counsel as we start another year of service to God’s people and Canada.
Many things have occurred which we must continue to monitor. I know you have heard this information before, but we cannot let it rest until we are satisfied with the results of our labour.
Written by Betty Colaneri Chairperson Centenary Committee
On behalf of the Centenary Committee, I would like to extend our sincere thanks to the members from across Canada that contributed their immigration stories for this year’s Centenary project.
What an amazing feeling to see all the stories and pictures on display at the national convention in Winnipeg!
As we reflected on the stories of the immigrants that came to Canada with only the clothes on their back or one suitcase in hand, it spearheaded the project for the 2019.
The project will be H.U.G. (Helping, Understanding, Giving) Packages put together by members for distribution at local women’s shelters in your areas. The women and children who seek refuge in shelters will sometimes arrive with little more than the clothes on their backs. Providing a family with items of toiletries and clothing during their stay can make a big difference. The items can help her family get back on their feet after leaving shelter. It can make a huge impact on those who are seeking shelter from their storm.
The following are some examples of items that can be put together. You can also check out your local shelter’s website or contact them to find out what items they are most in need of at any given time.
Written by Marie C. Rackley, national chairperson of community life
It is hard to believe that the summer season has come and gone, and school has begun. Goodbye to the lazy days of summer blessed with beautiful weather and lots of sun. As the fall season changes the forests to many vibrant colours, please take a moment to remember the Province of British Columbia struggling to recover from the devastating fires.
As your new community life chairperson it gives me great pleasure to extend a warm welcome and introduce you to the sub-committee chairpersons who have agreed to work with me during the next two years:
Life Member Dorothy Johansen (Alberta) – Dignity and Rights of Person
New Brunswick Provincial Council 1st Vice-President Madonna Clark – Refugees, Immigration and Citizenship
Prince Edward Island Provincial Council Past President Irene Gallant – Social and Economic Justice
You will hear more from these ladies in communiqués over the course of the next two years.