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Celebrating and Empowering Women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

Canada NewsWire
Jun 16, 2010

The Co-operators provides another $60,000 to EWMA

VANCOUVER, June 16 /CNW/ - Women artists and artisans in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside were celebrated today at a reception, video launch and exhibition in support of Enterprising Women Making Art (EWMA). The initiative of the Atira Women's Resource Society that helps women affected by violence overcome barriers to traditional employment also received a commitment of an additional $60,000 from The Co-operators, bringing the organization's total contribution to $80,000 over five years.

The main event of the evening was the launch of an 8-minute video about the extraordinary women participating in the program, and the supportive environment in which they are furthering their artistic, economic and personal development. The video will serve as a promotional and fundraising tool for EWMA. On display were art, jewellery, ceramics, textiles and other handmade items produced by the women who participate in not only the production, but also the planning, design and marketing of the items.

"The EWMA program creates opportunities for women to utilize their skills and creativity in a practical and safe place," said Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women's Resource Society. "And the beautiful art they create is then sold at the storefront at 802 East Hastings, which provides them with income that sometimes makes the difference between a decent place to stay, a well rounded diet or the ability to have the occasional lunch out with a friend."

Launched in 2003, EWMA blends art, community and social entrepreneurship. It provides an opportunity for a very diverse group of women who face similar challenges to participate in an equitable and supportive social enterprise. They are provided a helping hand as they work toward self-employment, including access to a working studio, pooled resources, help with business planning and marketing, and exhibitions of their work.

"What an inspiration to see these beautiful handmade items born from each woman's ability and creativity, which are flourishing with the support of EWMA," said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. "They are reminders of the resilience of the human spirit and the potential of women suffering through difficult times to persevere through self-belief and mutual support."

The Co-operators Foundation provides funds for community investment, including the organization's Community Economic Development (CED) Fund. Since its creation in 1995, the CED Fund has provided more than $2.8 million to 73 organizations across Canada. This includes the $20,000 provided to EWMA over the past two years, as well as today's announcement of another $60,000 over the next three years.

About The Co-operators:

The Co-operators Group Limited is a 100 per cent Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $36.9 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies, it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is owned by 47 Canadian co-operatives, credit union centrals and like-minded organizations. It is well known for its community involvement, and is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada.

For further information: Leonard Sharman, The Co-operators, 1-877-795-7272, ext. 2707; Janice Abbott, Atira Women's Resource Society, (604) 331-1420

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