In the News...2019-2020

August 21, 2019


Donnajean Jefferies and Grace

As part of celebrating its 100 years, Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) has identified 100 women across Canada to be named as Notable Women. At its recent AGM in Winnipeg from August 14th to 17th, Donnajean Jefferies was named as one of the Women.

CFUW is a non-partisan, voluntary, self-funded organization with over 90 CFUW Clubs, located in every province across Canada. Since its founding in 1919, CFUW has been working to improve the status of women and to promote human rights, public education, social justice, and peace. 

Every year, CFUW and its Clubs award close to $1 million to women to help them pursue post-secondary studies. This year to celebrate its centenary it has raised an additional $220,000.

CFUW also provides funding for library and creative arts awards. CFUW Clubs provide life-long learning opportunities and fellowship to its members. There are over 100 lecture series, 200 book clubs and 75 issues groups offered by CFUW Clubs. CFUW Clubs are involved in community outreach on such initiatives as working to prevent violence against women, child poverty, early learning and childcare.

CFUW holds special consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC) and belongs to the Education Committee of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. CFUW regularly sends a delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. 

The Orillia CFUW Club is very proud of the work we do and Donnajean exemplifies CFUW goals and values. We congratulate her and know that it is women like her that make a difference in our community.

Oct. 22, 2019

Life in Pakistan

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CFUW (Canadian Federation of University Women) Orillia launched its current Speaker Series with a presentation by Mehreen Shahid, on Oct. 22 at the Orillia Museum of Art and History, 30 Peter St. South.

Mehreen is well known to many in the Orillia area as a communications specialist. Over the past few years, she has contributed articles to several media outlets, including She was employed by the Packet & Times and now has her own communications business.


The Canadian Federation of Women – Orillia club was established in 1955 as a non-profit organization that is active in public affairs, working to raise the social, economic and legal status of women as well as to improve education, the environment, and human rights.


CFUW raises funds through its annual Homes Tour to provide post-secondary scholarships to female graduates of Orillia high schools, including the Learning Centre. Through its many interest groups, members develop new skills and friendships.


Membership is offered to all women who believe in our goals and value lifelong learning. For more information visit the CFUW Orillia website.

Nov. 26, 2019

Filmmaker Captivates Audience

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On November 26, talented documentary filmmaker and storyteller, Brina Romanek showed her latest documentary, “Counting on a new Crop” to CFUW Orillia members at their monthly meeting. Brina is only twenty four years old and is working on her 4th documentary. She has directed and produced for Rogers TV, True Calling Media, and CBC. She also works as a Film Editor.


While researching a former documentary, Brina discovered that many small farms are being gobbled up by large companies because young people are not interested in staying on the farm. Less than 10% of farmers today are under thirty five. “Counting on a New Crop” is the story of Jim, a farmer who has spent his life working on his multi- generational family farm and is facing having to sell to a large company. The farm buildings would be torn down and his family lineage, history, and heritage would be lost. Jim has found Jon, a 23 year old Electrician, and is mentoring him to take over the farm. The story is fascinating as Jim hopes to keep his dream alive and Jon struggles to learn the art of farming and navigate the capital gains tax situation that will prevent him from paying off the farm for at least thirty years.


Brina told the audience that she is passionate about the environment and loves sharing personal stories with hope that those who watch will feel motivated to change something about themselves, their habits, or beliefs. Her next documentary will be shown on CBC in February.

Our November Guest Speaker - Brina Romanek's Documentary LINKS:

"Counting on a New Crop"

"Hungry for Leftovers"

"Portrait of Pockets"

Brina Romanek


Instagram: @Brina Romanek

January 28, 2020

First Nations Advocate, Dr. Cynthia Wesley- Esquimaux, Speaks to CFUW Orillia


Dr. Cynthia Wesley- Esquimaux, renowned advocate for First Nation issues, addressed CFUW members at their monthly general meeting on Tuesday, January 28, 2020. Her topic was “Updates and discussion on ‘Has Truth and Reconciliation in Canada changed the administration of Child Welfare or addressed the Tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women?’ ”


Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux served as Vice Provost for Aboriginal Initiatives at Lakehead University and has been appointed as the 1st Indigenous Chair for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.  She is also an adjunct asst. professor at the University of Toronto, and a Director of the Teach for Canada non-profit, co-founding a youth project out of the University of Toronto, University of Saskatchewan, and Lakehead University.  Information on the Canadian Roots Exchange can be found at


She is a member of the Chippewa of Georgina Island First Nation and has dedicated her life to building bridges of understanding between peoples.  She remains deeply committed to public education and active youth engagement from all cultures and backgrounds.

February 25, 2020

CFUW Speaker Places Spotlight on the  Underground Railway

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Members of CFUW Orillia honoured Black History Month by hosting renowned author, archeologist, and historian, Karolyn Smardz Frost as the guest speaker at their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25th 2020.


Smardz Frost continues to explore North America's rich African American and African Canadian heritage, and specializes in studying and teaching about the Underground Railroad in the Great Lakes basin. 


As an adjunct professor at both Acadia and Dalhousie Universities, and a consulting historical archeologist for the Niagara Falls, New York, Underground Railroad Heritage Commission, Smardz Frost has won several awards for her previous works.


Her latest novel, Steal Away Home (HarperCollins Canada 2017) tells the story of Cecelia Jane Reynolds, who at the age of 15 fled her Kentucky home by way of the Cataract House hotel at Niagara Falls, NY. Reaching Toronto, she learned to write and began a correspondence with Fanny, the woman who had once owned her body, asking the price of her own family's freedom. Thus began a 20-year correspondence between a freedom-seeker and her former mistress that has no parallel in the annals of American slavery.


As a finalist for the Atlantic Book and Heritage Toronto Awards, Steal Away Home won the Speaker's Award for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the J.J. Talman Award for the best book in Ontario history over the past three years. The most exciting news yet is that Steal Away Home has been optioned for a five-part miniseries by Conquering Lion Pictures, which produced The Book of Negroes for television!