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Women's Institute will take on annual Christmas arts and crafts show in Bond Head

Bond Head Women's Institute is looking to the future, as COVID restrictions lift
Bond Head Women's Institute meets at St. John's Presbyterian Church, determined to carry on the work and traditions of W.I.

As life begins to return to ‘normal’, local organizations and clubs – from gardening groups to Women’s Institutes – are getting back to in-person meetings, and looking to the future.

Members of the Bond Head Women’s Institute gathered in a meeting room at St. John’s Presbyterian Church on April 20, to consider the way ahead, and talk about the relevance of W.I. in a post-pandemic world.

New Bond Head Women’s Institute member Liz Moore spoke of the importance of Women’s Institute, explaining that she was drawn to the organization because it provides a reflection of her own rural roots and strong sense of community.

Moore, who grew up in a farming community, attended a three-room school – and has strong memories of W.I. as “this magical group of women” who provided support for 4-H Clubs, offered educational opportunities that included helping to fund the Grade 8 class trip, and touched the lives of so many.

In fact, she won a Women’s Institute award in 1974 “for best kept home economic book in Grade 8,” the prize being a cookbook – a prize that she still treasures, dog-eared as it is.

Women’s Institute was founded in February of 1897 by Erland and Janet Lee, and Adelaide Hoodless. It's goals included promoting the social and educational life of rural women, creating opportunities for women to come together to “advocate for social, environmental and economic change” while creating safe, healthy communities and achieving “enriched balanced lifestyles” – all of which are still relevant, members noted.

Women’s Institute, established in Stoney Creek, Ontario, has now become a worldwide movement dedicated to empowering rural women.

Currently, the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario has 220 branches, with an estimated 2,600 members – but there have been questions raised regarding the future, and overcoming the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Moore suggested that there is no better time to continue the principles of Women’s Institute, with its focus on supporting communities and traditions – and the membership agreed.

Not only did they vote to resume monthly meetings, suspended by the pandemic, they voted to take on a new fundraiser: the annual Christmas Arts and Crafts Show, formerly hosted by the Bond Head Lions Club at the Bond Head Community Hall.

Sadly, the Bond Head Lions Club did not survive the double challenge of a shrinking membership and COVID-19. Despite new development and growth in the hamlet, which will more than triple Bond Head’s population in the next few years, the Club has been dissolved – but during its 35-year history, it supported the local food bank, provided assistance to local families, hosted pancake breakfasts and barbecues that raised funds for the community, and organized the Christmas Arts and Crafts Show, giving local artists and artisans a venue to sell their work.

Bond Head Women‘s Institute members voted to take over the hosting of the Arts and Crafts show and tea room at the Bond Head Hall early in December, and will be reaching out to participants and promoting the event in the coming months.

There was one event that has been deferred to a future date: the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bond Head Women’s Institute.

The 100th anniversary would have been celebrated in June of 2020, with a Strawberry Tea – but plans were put on hold when COVID hit.

Members decided that, with COVID variants still circulating, it was still too soon to consider hosting an event that would bring together W.I. representatives from across the province – but there was support for a “100 years plus 3” anniversary celebration in 2023.

Support for local schools, plans to encourage “random acts of kindness,” upcoming meetings on a range of educational topics - the Bond Head Women’s Institute hopes to remain relevant and connected, as the community emerges from the pandemic.

New members are always welcomed. For more information, contact President Leila Lloyd at [email protected]


Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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