Stardale offers many learning and healing activities and programs solely for the betterment of women. The women are strengthened through a unique approach, which is highly structured on the basis of an educational format combined with experiential learning, arts and crafts in a therapeutic environment.
Stardale Pop Up Art in the Park Series for Canada 150 sponsored by Alberta Government
Stardale was presented with an opportunity through the Canada 150 grant to showcase the talent of many young Indigenous girls. From our experience, we have learned that these young girls often slip through the cracks and rarely are recognized for their talents. This Stardale project generated enthusiasm from the girls, the artists and the volunteer mentors, thus creating new paths of hopes and dreams for each girl. The direct hands-on approach worked! The girls thoroughly enjoyed being outdoors and in settings that they rarely get to be. Additionally, art is something they love. Therefore, in highlighting the youth's talents, it is a natural fit for creating optimism and it is a win-win situation.
Art is an integral component of the Indigenous culture and is implemented with the framework of the Stardale programming model. The public had the opportunity to experience the First Person narrative by interacting with these young urban Indigenous girls who were painting their own stories. The girls' creative processes were directed by the talented Cree-Metis artist Barbara La Pointe and First Nations artist Ken Bourassa.
Stardale Women's Group over the summer months engaged in a series of five very different Live Plein Air Painting Pop Up Art with our Indigenous girls.
At each art session, curators came out to meet with the group and to critique their work. This was a new experience for the girls and a beneficial opportunity.
Cody & Sioux with Stardale
The Pop Up Art in the Park Series for Canada 150 culminated with an exhibition and reception on September 14th. A lovely reception was held at Cody & Sioux in Inglewood. It was a splendid event. We are thankful to Ingrid Schultz who had a vision that we could be part of. The girls who designed the art were present, meeting the guests as well as talking about their art concepts and designs. Artist Ken Bourassa took a blank canvas at the beginning of the evening and while he listened to Suzanne de Bussac performing, he painted a picture of a horse. This was a work of wonder and art. The painting was a silent auction bid. The highest bidder was thrilled to have one.
To capture the heart of Stardale, the talented musician and artist Suzanne de Bussac sang a variety of the songs that she wrote. Additionally, we got to hear some of her new songs which will be released on an album next spring (http://www.suzannedebussac.com/). Suzanne is a huge supporter of children with mental illness and is closely connected with Stardale.
In addition, but on a different perspective of "art," Eugene Stickland (https://eugenestickland.com/), with three of the Stardale girls, did a performance piece entitled, "Committing," that was co-created by the Calgary playwright and a group of Stardale girls. The hope was to raise awareness of mental illnesses and suicide, which more than often directly relates to violence and abuse. The performance piece was extremely well received with comments such as, "riveting, enlightening, chilling and staggering." The heart of Stardale was exposed and laid open for the public to see and to hear that these were real stories by girls who live the story.
We are grateful for all who attended the Pop Up Art in the Park reception. It was memorable and that is what we wanted to create.
STARDALE GALA 2017
On Friday May 12, 2017, Stardale Women's Group Calgary hosted its first Charity Gala at Spolumbo's Fine Food and Deli in Inglewood.
The evening was packed with excitement, starting with a red carpet featuring a fashion show with the girls of Stardale modeling designs from Apt 22 (owner Kimberlie Stern) and Cody and Sioux (owner Ingrid Schultz). The entertainment included Juno award winner Oscar Lopez, tunes being spun out by DJ Armin Hammer, the hilarious stand-up comics Kris La Belle and his nine year old son Dominic (Canada's youngest stand-up comic), the Tsuu T'ina Nation dancers, and a special visit by the 2017 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess - Savana Sparvier.
There was a fabulous Silent Auction with a variety of items donated by our generous Calgary community. And to cap the evening off, we had the beautiful CTV Calgary's Camilla Di Giuseppe as our emcee.
Download the video of the gala (Quicktime .mov, 215MB)
Calgary Co-op and Stardale Girls Cooking Program Pilot
What does food security mean to you? What does it mean to a young Indigenous girl residing in Calgary, especially when dollars are scarce in the family unit? The Calgary Co-op Foundation and Stardale Women's Group decide to address these issues through a collaborative effort of designing a pilot project that would include good, healthy food concepts and teaching the girls how to prepare food on a budget. The Calgary Co-op put out a call to their chefs and had an overwhelming response. The chefs (five in total) volunteered their time and expertise to come up with a program that would assist the girls in learning about food preparation, costs, and value for the dollar. The program stretched over three months and was incredible fun! What is better than cooking, eating, and sharing food with some real cool chefs?
The Big Cook-Off
For the last class, there was a competition organized by the three chefs from the Co-op and Laura Brown, the Executive Director of the Calgary Co-op Foundation. Once the clock started to tick with the limited time to prepare the dishes, you could hear a buzz in the room. Everyone was on task.
Michaela Klyne (Judge), Helen McPhaden (Executive Director of Stardale), Aimee Maertz (Judge)
Michaela Klyne (Judge), Aimee Maertz (Judge), Danielle Bussieres (Judge)
The Shopping Spree at the Co-op Midtown Market
On a beautiful, sunny Friday afternoon, chefs showed up to reunite with the Stardale girls. Also in attendance was Danielle Bussieres (Vice President of Marketing and Member Relations), Laura Brown (Executive Director of the Calgary Co-op), and Big Al (the store manager). Al knew the products well and was thorough when explaining to the girls the choices they could make to fill their grocery basket wisely. All in all, it was a huge success and Stardale thanks the Calgary Co-op.
To read more about the cook-off, please go to:
Power of the Arts National Forum
From November 6 to 8, 2015, the Michaëlle Jean Foundation and Carleton University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences held the Power of the Arts National Forum. The gathering was a wonderful opportunity for many of the country's foremost thinkers (from a variety of disciplines) to discuss sustainable social change through the arts in Canada. Stardale Women's Group presented at a workshop entitled "Public Safety and Access to Justice." We presented general information on Stardale programming and then three of the girls did a performance piece ("Committing"). The theme was youth violence and suicide.
Helen McPhaden (Executive Director of Stardale), Jean-Daniel Lafond, Samantha, and Michaëlle Jean
Helen McPhaden (Executive Director of Stardale), Samantha, Savanah, and Gemini
The Inspiration Awards - Receiving Recognition
Helen McPhaden, the Founder and Executive Director of Stardale Women's Group, received an award for Leadership in the Prevention of Bullying from the Alberta Government. Helen has worked tirelessly for the advancement of women and the protection of the rights of women and children. This honour was a testament to her accomplishments and dedication.
Committing - To Our Futures
On May 21, 2014, following the production of "Alesha's Dream," Stardale launched its newest book, Committing - To Our Futures, which has a storyline about youth suicide.
Vincent T. Joachim, the book's graphic designer
Stardale girls receiving flowers from the Junior League of Calgary
Helen McPhaden, Executive Director of Stardale, commentating on the developmental history of the book
Andrea Jalbert, Vice President of Community, Environment, and Safety from TransCanada, delivering remarks
Eugene Stickland, author of the book, doing a reading
Helen McPhaden from Stardale and Andrea Jalbert from TransCanada
The television series go! Calgary aired an accompanying video segment:
A limited number of this book is available for purchase.
For destinations within Canada, the price of one copy of the book is $25.00 CAD (this includes shipping and handling).
For destinations outside of Canada, the price of one copy of the book is $30.00 CAD (this includes shipping and handling).
Here's how to order:
Innovation Through Arts and Culture
Stardale Women's Group Inc. offers innovative educational programming for Aboriginal girls ages 10 to 17 in Calgary. Stardale realizes the importance of keeping the girls' interest and enthusiasm toward a program that entertains fresh approaches. The after school program combines life skills and literacy with the arts to stimulate group dynamics and personal growth. The Cultural Model framework includes recruiting a wide range of female mentors and recognizing their patterns of understanding. It makes sense of our shared world views with the girls. Emphasis is placed upon social, emotional and intellectual development of the girls. There are numerous opportunities for the girls to work with a myriad of professionals in the arts to learn a variety of modalities. Each year, Stardale endeavours to empower the girls by having them "give back to the community." Thus, the girls get to perform for an audience. The rationale behind the performing is that it increases awareness of the incredible narratives of their lives. Additionally, they become positive role models for other Aboriginal youth through their creative outward expressions.
Stardale Wins Alberta Community Fund
Stardale was the recent recipient of the Field Law Alberta Community Fund. We would like to thank them for their generosity of spirit.
Stardale Lends Helping Hand to Bowness During Flood of June 2013
On a bright, sunny Wednesday morning, staff and volunteers gathered in Shaganappi to assemble lunch bags containing sandwiches, fruit, and cookies for flood victims and all the workers who were pitching in to help the community of Bowness in north west Calgary. The room was abuzz with friendly chatter and focused preparation. There was a task that needed to be completed, there was a gentle urgency to get out and help.
Once all the food was prepared, we loaded six vehicles and our convoy proceeded to Bowness. This was a bit tricky because of road closures; however, we had a volunteer leave well before the rest. They scoped out the road situation and communicated with MLA Alana DeLong's office for advice as to what was the best course of action.
We made it to Bow Crescent, witnessing all the destruction in the area. Amid the chaos, however, there was order. Emergency vehicles were driving back and forth; people of all ages were shoveling mud, ripping out walls and carpets, carrying furniture, and so much more. They were friendly, talkative, caring, and you could feel the sense of, "We must get this done, we must help."
We all went up and down the streets, into homes and yards. Some of the girls were exclaiming how muddy it was--this was because of how far the water had travelled from the river bed. The girls were wonderful, they gave their best efforts to assist. They carried big boxes of food and water across long distances. People were grateful, especially the firefighters and police officers, who repeatedly gave us their thanks.
The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate of the Province of Alberta (OCYA) and the Child and Family Services Division (CFS) of Alberta Human Services, in partnership with The Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research (ACCFCR), hosted a conference on May 13, 2013. The conference was titled, "Youth Suicide Awareness," and included some of Canada's leading experts on the topic. They spoke on the important issues of understanding and preventing youth suicide.
Stardale was invited to do a presentation at the conference.
Our girls presented the original Stardale production of "Committing," a theatre piece mixing poetry, dance, soundscape and performance art to bring the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the girls to the stage. "Committing" is an open, honest and artistic expression of this very serious issue in the world today. The girls, some of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, have all bonded in the safe and supportive environment of the Stardale program, which is teaching them skills to help them become successful adults. The program also prepares them for positive outcomes so they can each envision a future worth looking forward to, one that includes decent jobs, meaningful relationships, and an overall satisfying life.
Stardale Wins Healthy Communities Award
Stardale Women's Group was recognised for its contributions to the community and received the Healthy Communities Award. The award is for collaborative efforts to promote healthy behaviours and reduce barriers to healthy living. These actions reduce the risk factors for chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes and help our children and youth grow to achieve their potential.
Dave Rodney (Associate Minister of Wellness) presenting the award to Helen McPhaden (Executive Director of Stardale)
Some of the attendees and winners at the Healthy Communities Award event
The Stardale Model - For the Enlightenment of Women
The Stardale Model has been written into a curriculum format. The manual contains all the detailed information for the setup of the education/healing environment, in conjunction with the activities and lesson plans.
The Model is a 14 week/5 day per week extensive self-development tool. This is to be implemented as a multi-disciplinary approach to healing, education, culture, community development, health and prior learning.
Contact us for further information.
Inspiration from the collective whole came when we started the day off in Talking Circle about the purpose of our gathering and the connection to Mother Earth. We spoke of reverence to the environment and the need to be further mindful for what exists on the earth today.
Present for the day of service were the Stardale organization with staff, young girls, parents and volunteers, as well as some of the residents from the Alice Bissett residence.
Very quickly, the group intermingled and began to sort through plant pots, rip open bags of planting soil, distribute tools and examine which flowers would be visually appealing in which pot container. There was a lot of chatting back and forth. Conversation and relationship building were primary components to the event. Several of the Alice Bissett residents directly participated in the planting, while others came out to say "thank you" to all of us for coming out and preparing the pots.
While we were playing with nature, the wind blew, the birds sang and we happily filled 170 pots of flowers to be distributed to 8 residential care settings within Calgary. At the end, we were feeling as though we had accomplished a meaningful, worthwhile task that was meant to be shared. Now everyone could enjoy the flowers and connect with nature.
Our first inaugural program was entitled, "Honouring Ourselves". This was a 24-week program - a 14-week life skills program, coupled with a 4-week literacy component, followed by a 5-week child care worker certificate program. This first program was based on the results of the Needs Assessment that identified the lack of training in the day care area. The day care training stage of the program was completed by July 6, 1998.
The Needs Assessment also identified high degrees of reported abuse/violence among Aboriginals and women of poverty, and situations where women were placed at risk. As a result, the life skills component of the program concentrated on the healing and empowerment of women to overcome the barriers and the marginalization within which they subsisted. It is specifically designed to include self, family, job/education, community, and leisure. All of these elements combined are critical first steps toward self-empowerment.
The second very important component of the life skills program is literacy. Women who have been abused and neglected (as in the case of all of our participant clients), severely lack literacy skills. Combined with the low self-esteem that has been generated from life-long abuse, as well as their lack of personal skills, these women become oppressed and unemployed with little to no hope. As we all know, literacy opens doors to the world, and the knowledge gained begins to create access to positive alternatives for women.
"Renewal of the Spirit" was an 8-week life skills program with a 1-week collective kitchen leadership component. This program was initiated through the months of May and June 1998. The participants were all impoverished women who received social assistance.
Groups in our area had identified that community kitchens were a positive method of addressing poverty and hunger. Proper nutrition on a shoestring budget is a challenge for our participant clients. Food safety and nutrition are constant struggles that are being addressed in the collective kitchens. A manual has been developed at the North Central Health District office to be used as a pilot project for our program. This manual is now being used by the Health District for their projects in developing food security initiatives.
Women in the surrounding community hearing about the "Honouring Ourselves" program by word of mouth requested a similar program again within which they could participate. Upon this request, a second program in the "Honouring Ourselves" series, entitled, "Illumination From Within," commenced in September 1998, with a life skills component, followed by a literacy component, and concluding with a certification as an office worker with computer skills. On June 5, 1999, the first group of talented women graduated from this program.
Our next endeavour was the commencement of another program entitled, "Transcendence To The Future," which was based upon the overwhelming number of women who had been on our waiting list, or who were referred to our organization by other service providers. In this program, the women who previously had suffered many atrocities in their lives, started to transform themselves by acknowledging their pain with honesty and a commitment to change. They began to achieve harmony, balance and freedom of thought. It was slow process rebuilding their lives; yet, they were willing to conquer life's challenges and heal their past. One of the women from this group has started a new greenhouse business at the James Smith Cree Nation. This initiative is doing well, and we consider it a tremendous success.
To meet the needs of many of our youth, Stardale also has undertaken a 3-phase program entitled, "Exploring Our Options." This was a cooperative project in collaboration with the East Side L.I.M.B., Human Resources of Canada, Melfort Ministerial, James Smith Cree Nation and Stardale. This project focused on education and community development.
In September, Stardale offered another program entitled, "Rediscovery of Self," which commenced with a 14-week life skills program. The format of the program concentrated on nurturing women and dealing with many sensitive topics. This program ended on December 17, 1999, as the women moved into two other programs entitled, "Framework For Change - ALAPS, an Aboriginal Family Literacy Program" and "Harmonious Learning," an individual one-on-one and group literacy/GED program. We are enthusiastic about the endless possibilities for the women as they begin this new course in their lives.
"The Talking Quilt"
In order to address the emotional and personal needs of our women, Stardale designed a pilot project utilising various personal and emotional healing methods, and implemented a program entitled, "The Talking Quilt." This endeavour encompassed the medium of colour, texture, pattern, touchability and artistry, with visual and mental stimulation. It provided a spark that ignited the flame of reconciliation for all the women and youth who participated in the designing and the stitching of the quilt.
As the quilt was stitched, group counselling sessions were held and videotaped; oral and written life stories were logged, in order to record the full intensity of the momentum of healing, growth and change in each participant. At the conclusion of the project, a video production was developed incorporating the quilting process, the counselling sessions/discussions and the eventual celebration together with a narrative telling their stories.
The method of approach in the quilt project focused on the element of "council sharing." Thus, the council of women formed a circle and discussed their lives, with joys, traumas and experiences giving way to individual awakening, emotional healing and development.
At Stardale, we focus on individual expression of the self in all art forms, be it in pictures, paintings, sculpture, weaving or quilt making. We feel that the expression of thought of each participant in these projects manifests itself in an expression of artistry, skillfulness and immense talent, which all women have. Their unique talents also have been exhibited on "The Talking Quilt."
On May 17, 2000, Stardale held a celebration for the unveiling of "The Talking Quilt." The event was very successful with excellent feedback.
Community Supports, Partnerships, and Linkages
We would like to thank Canadian Natural Resources Limited for their financial support in our programs, which are designed to provide education and guidance to Aboriginals and other girls and women of the community.
Canadian Natural is committed to working together with Stardale, and enhancing the quality of life in communities where we do business.
Stardale acknowledges the support Alberta Health and the Aboriginal Youth and Communities Empowerment Strategy (AYCES). The entire strategy team are excellent to work with. They exude professional standards with care and concern for their clients.
supports the ongoing work of the empowerment for young girls in the "Honouring the Girls' Stories" program for Calgary and region.
We would like to acknowledge and extend a big "thank you" to the RBC Foundation for their sponsorship of the "Sacred Circles" program.
Stardale would like to acknowldege SGI Canada for their generous support in the "Life As You Don't Know It" programs.
Stardale thanks Enbridge for their generous support of the "Honouring the Girls' Stories" series.
Partners, associates and sponsors of the Stardale Centre include: Human Resources Development Canada, CanSask, Cumberland Regional College, James Smith Cree Nation, Aboriginal Women's Council of Saskatchewan (PA),The Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Kelsey Trail Health, Melfort Ministerial Association, and Porcupine Opportunities For the Disabled. Stardale also represents the community organizations of the North East sector on the Provincial LINKS board.
Stardale works closely with Victim's Services, North Central Health District, East Side L.I.M.B., Prince Albert Against Family Violence, Prince Albert Grand Council Women's Commission, SaskEnergy Supplier Development, Melfort Ministerial Association, and N.E. Intersectorial. We are associated with Sask Native Housing (Saskatoon), Alberta Life Skills & Literacy Ltd., and Y.W.C.A (Calgary).
As identified in our Needs Assessment, funding is a major determinant as well as a handicap for the development of programs at Stardale. Each program component relies on special funding; depending on financial resources, it is sometimes very difficult to offer a particular program for a following term, even though there is tremendous demand for these programs in the region. Our team of partners is continuously searching for funding for these successful programs at Stardale, as well as for these programs to be maintained on an ongoing basis.
In March 2000, the Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women (CCLOW) held a conference in Toronto with 110 women in attendance. The Stardale program coordinator was invited to present a paper on the impact of trauma and violence on women's learning. Subsequently, further discussions and presentations took place at the First National Aboriginal Literacy Gathering at Nakoda Lodge in Alberta. As a direct result of those presentations, more and more discussions were taking place with other NGOs from across Canada that wanted to use Stardale as an exemplary model in structuring their programs.
Stardale had organized a one day workshop and open house on February 17, 2001. Members of other NGOs could visit our centre and explore our programs and surroundings, and meet with some of the participants who have attended our programs.
"Once Were Warriors" Tour
Frontier Centre of Public Policy and Stardale Women's Group collaborated to bring Alan Duff of New Zealand on a tour of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Alan is the author of the popular book Once Were Warriors, which has been made into a movie. The book is compelling and draws attention to the violence in an impoverished Maori family. The blame for Maori underperformance he puts squarely back on the Maori, for not making the most of the opportunities given to them. This somewhat simplistic message has proved to be highly controversial. Relishing rather than resigning from the fight, Duff has gone on to prove his point with the Books In Homes initiative. With commercial sponsorship and government support, this foundation aims to break the cycle of illiteracy, poverty, anger and violence among underprivileged children by making books available to them to own at minimal cost, thus encouraging them to value reading. This self-help approach, which in its first year put 180,000 new books in the hands of 38,000 children, reflects the path of Duff's own remarkable career.
The impact of the movie adaptation has stimulated public reaction within New Zealand, generating change for the urban Maori community. On the world scene, it has compelled other countries who have indigenous populations to examine the real issues that keep those groups in bondage and oppression. In the Warriors tour, there is a correlation between Alan Duff's message and the need to address the hard issues of the Aboriginal communities through revitalization. It is about taking affirmative action and moving away from dependency and poverty. Both Frontier and Stardale believe that Alan Duff's message needed to get out to Canadian communities, with the hope of bringing about change.
Girl Violence and All Girl Gangs
Based on research, focus groups, and community programming, Stardale developed a story on Aboriginal girl gangs. The working title is Gangsta Girls.
This documentary addresses the rising concern of Aboriginal adolescent female involvement in gangs. It breaks stereotypes and looks at identifying and understanding the life of the "Gangsta Girl." This production proposes techniques to break the growing phenomenon of this lifestyle choice by raising awareness on how to build resilient communities that take a stand for the prevention of violence and collaborate to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal females.
Included in the pitch clip are segments of the testimonies given by three Aboriginal girls, all survivors of neglect, abandonment, and rejection. It has the potential to be an educational tool for Aboriginal schools, for groups involved in literacy programs, for emerging artists, and for community groups.
See the clip below:
External Services Provided
From the data kept, Stardale has a 95% success rate among women who complete our programs.