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Christmas Is Where The Heart Is


At Stardale Women's Group, we are aware that during this Christmas season in particular, our girls may find themselves in extraordinarily vulnerable situations. Let's just call it for what it is - a lot of our girls live in houses that Santa seldom finds on his big night out. It's bad enough when things are good with the world; this year feels like a looming disaster.

With this in mind, we are always looking for ways to mitigate against the uncertainty of the times and to help give our girls the best Christmas possible. It's a tall order, but it's what we do. Because when we provide positive, supportive environments for Indigenous young women and girls, we build resilience across generations.

With your support through our giving campaign, Stardale Women's Group can help even more Indigenous youth and their families access the opportunities they need to thrive - in turn strengthening our community.

There are many ways to give to Stardale Women's Group:

Donate Today!

Your monetary dollars and in-kind contributions go toward increased social and wellness programming, basic needs, and better lives for many Indigenous young women and girls, their families, and their communities in Calgary.

Here are just some ways your donations can make an impact:

  • A healthy, dignified meal for girls and young women
  • Supporting weekly workshops and activities
  • Fuel for transportation
  • Essential collaboration with community partners
  • Supplies for foundational learning and literacy
  • Resources to educate and promote Indigenous culture

Volunteer As A Youth Mentor!

Through mentorship, our goal is provide the Stardale girls with the development tools and resources that they need to facilitate their personal, academic and leadership growth and inspire motivation in themselves.

If you are interested in volunteering with us as a Youth Mentor, please send your résumé to

Host A Fundraiser!

Corporations, small businesses, and individuals have shown some amazing creativity with their fundraising ideas. From benefit concerts to birthday celebrations, we are grateful to our community members for raising funds to support social and wellness programming. We'd love to chat about your ideas for a fundraiser; please send your messages to

Like And Share On Social Media!

Spreading the word about the important work we do and sharing our content helps us stay connected to you and others; it also supports our cause!




Thank you for your incredible gift of happiness during the toughest of times.

We could not do the work we do without the incredible community support we receive. You truly warm the hearts of families and staff and make a difference in the lives of Indigenous youth and families, who without your support, would not have felt the spirit of the season embrace them with its promise of hope, love, and joy.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your support.

Become A Youth Mentor!

Prairieaction Foundation Award

Prairieaction Certificate

Stardale Women's Group is honoured to receive for the second time the Prairieaction Foundation Youth Leadership Award for The Road: Sharing Stories of Missing and Murdered Women. Due to COVID-19, we were not able to come together formally but our hearts are connected as one.

The 25 girls of the Stardale program in Calgary with its team of female elders, facilitators and workers guided and supported the processes to heal and break the cycles of abuse and violence directed at them and within their community. These adults assisted the girls in being able to create a narrative that is both a cultural mirror and a "two-world view" for the non-Indigenous Calgary and area community.

Through the creation of The Road, a strategized project that relates to the many females who have gone missing on the Yellowhead Highway, or what is known as the "Trail of Tears," the girls were empowered to become leaders in their community and the larger Calgary and area community. Audiences will learn the impact the numerous murdered and missing women has had on the lives of these young Indigenous women through their storytelling. Storytelling is the traditional way of imparting knowledge and wisdom in our Indigenous community.

Ribbon Skirt Cultural Project

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts under the granting of "Creating, Knowing and Sharing for Indigenous Peoples" for supporting Stardale Women's Group Inc. in the Ribbon Skirt Cultural Project.

It was a mighty effort to complete this project while COVID-19 had limited our contact.

When we began this project with the Elders, the helpers and the young girls coming together, it was magnificent to be part of the synergy which was flowing. Listening to the stories and the guidance from our Elders was beneficial for all whom partook in the sewing circles.

The Ribbon Skirt Project was a component of the performance creation stage production of The Road, which was to launch at the Stardale Gala on May 14. The Gala was cancelled due to COVID-19. Alas, all is not lost, as we will be having all the girls together on the stage in the near future when it's safe to do so.

We humbly thank all the women who assisted in the teaching of the girls how to sew. Several girls made comments as to how relaxing sewing was. It was new beginnings as they learned more on their culture and women's roles in their community.

Ribbon Skirt Project

Attention Must Be Paid

Blog entry #25 in the development of the Road series for Stardale

Written by Eugene Stickland - December 1, 2020

A month out as we look ahead at the holiday season, no clear image appears and we find ourselves faced with a great degree of uncertainty. Not only that, some of us are also feeling a whole range of emotions we don't normally associate with Christmas - fear, dread, frustration and even anger.

Helen and the staff and volunteers at Stardale are aware that during this Christmas season in particular, our girls may find themselves in extraordinarily vulnerable situations. Let's just call it for what it is - a lot of our girls live in houses that Santa seldom finds on his big night out. It's bad enough when things are good with the world; this year feels like a looming disaster.

With this in mind, the women of Stardale are looking for ways to mitigate against the uncertainty of the times and to help give our girls the best Christmas possible. It's a tall order, but it's what we do.

In talking about this the other day, Helen reminded me of a blog post I wrote a number of years ago, back when things were "normal," about the Stardale Christmas party. (It is titled "Attention Must Be Paid" and the original version can be found on my personal blog at

When I wrote it, I was teaching a contemporary drama class at St. Mary's University in Calgary. On the reading list that term was Arthur Miller's classic play Death of a Salesman. The expression "attention must be paid" comes from an impassioned speech by the salesman Willy Loman's wife Linda towards the end of the first act:

. . . I don't say he's a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person . . .

These lines rang true for me that year when I attended the Stardale Christmas party, and the rest of my blog post reads as follows:

Attention must be paid. Surely one of the reasons we go to the theatre or study literature is to come across lines like these that transcend their context and possibly become dictums that can influence our behaviour and how we go about living our lives.

But it won't surprise my readers to learn that I am not here to talk about Arthur Miller or Death of a Salesman, at least any more than I already have, other than this idea that attention must be paid.

Last night, I attended the Stardale Aboriginal Girls Christmas party. (I wrote about my teaching experience with the girls in October in the post titled "Do No Harm." You can find it in the archive section on the left side of the screen on

The girls actually got up and performed some improv games. They've been working on theatre and acting with the folks from Verve Theatre and it was impressive that they could get up and perform in front of a bunch of people the way they did. Of some of them, an old theatre gentleman like myself could actually say, "She's got it!"

Their confidence and charm came through in all aspects of the evening. So much care and preparation went into the Stardale Christmas party that when I arrived and saw that all them had dressed up to the nines, I almost felt like running home and putting on my best suit. (If I had a car, I probably would have.)

Many of the girls end up at Stardale after a horrendous journey earlier in their lives that would simply debilitate many of us. I'm sure they have their own bleak moments same as the rest of us. And I know they have many rivers to cross yet as their lives unfold. You have no idea how much I admire them for their courage. But last night, at least for a few hours, everything in the world seemed right.

Looking around the room at the staff and volunteers who help make Stardale work, my eye was always brought back to Helen McPhaden, the Director of Stardale, whose energy and enthusiasm for this program is nothing short of infectious.

I realized last night - and this is why Death of a Salesman and Linda's speech was going through my mind - that Helen more than anything pays attention. Stardale is not a government initiative or a program run by a board of education. It is, more than anything, one extremely well-intended and generous person paying attention to a group of girls that we, as a society, tend to ignore. To our shame. To her credit.

Attention, attention must be paid. And in this case, it is.


I wrote that in a year that was much more hopeful than the year we are in. Of course, there will be no fancy party this year. That doesn't mean that we can stop caring, or stop paying attention. This year more than ever our girls are in need of Christmas and all that it represents.

You can help by making a donation to Stardale, or by offering your services as a volunteer. Or both!

Thanks for reading.

Previous entries can be found in the Eugene's Blog section of the site.

photo of girl with mask on Our Videos

The Road

The Make Believer Project
The Make Believer Project

Pop Up Art
Stardale Pop Up Art in the Park Series for Canada 150

movie camera Life As You Don't Know It - a comic book by young Aboriginal girls.

Research report by Stardale

Alesha's Dream

Stardale is looking to recruit innovative women in Calgary who are ready to work within the framework of our after-school projects for young Aboriginal girls ages 10-17.

Last updated December 2, 2020

Life As You Don't Know It comic book
Designed by Copian in collaboration with Stardale Women's Group Inc. Foundation