Shine a light on midlife women and increase their visibility as community builders

It is not surprising that Erin Mills Connects’ followers are mostly women. The values that attract many women to their careers and volunteer work also draw them to Erin Mills Connects (EMC), a collaborative of organizations and individuals striving to improve the psychological well-being of area youngsters and their families.

What is surprising is a large portion of these people who make our community organizations thrive also feel invisible in society.

Ann Douglas puts the focus on midlife women, their experiences and the potential for great hope and happiness in her new book.

She interviewed 118 midlife women from many walks of life during the pandemic. She told participants of a recent Erin Mills Community Check-in that it was an “exercise of love and lament.” 

In Navigating the Messy Middle: A Fiercely Honest and Wildly Encouraging Guide for Midlife Women, Ann quotes one woman, Julia: “From the moment you turn forty, you’re given the message that you need to be quiet, and you need to disappear…I think it’s harmful to society because midlife women have a lot to offer.”

Ann told her audience that stories about midlife can emphasize decline, or the opposite, carefree health and wealth with the right investments, exercise and so on. But the truth is, many factors are out of our control. There is “beauty and challenge baked into every life stage,” she added.  In fact, “midlife has been my favourite life stage so far,” she admitted; “I really love the opportunities for learning and growth.”

Ann dedicated the book to her sisters. She says she also wrote it for, “every caring, thinking woman that’s ever been brave enough to ask herself the tough questions, who refuses to settle for things as they are, choosing instead to dare to imagine how much better things could be.”

Always a popular speaker with EMC’s audiences, Ann and her messages across time and subjects (whether about parenting or aging) are consistent: We need to support one another, practice self-compassion, and that, “we are never a burden to those who love us.”

Listen to Ann expound on the “The Seven Biggest Myths and Misconceptions About Midlife.”

The recording is 34 minutes. EMC Steering Committee member Miguel Martinez introduces Ann and other speakers. Click here.

Kindness, Mentorship and Ma’an

Participants of the semi-annual Community Check-in shared programs that help area families and young people find greater well-being.

Polycultural Immigrant & Community Services (Polycultural ICS)

Newcomer women’s businesses —  Community Resource Worker Artan Spahiu invited newcomer women to again showcase their businesses at Sheridan Centre after the trials of the pandemic. The event supports newcomer entrepreneurs and the United Way of Greater Toronto.

Crisis Counselling, and the Problem Gambling Project – Widaad Aamir, crisis counsellor, commented that newcomers facing huge life transitions can find help at Polycultural ICS with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. In addition, she introduced a program called the Gambling Problem in collaboration with CAMH for South Asian communities that provides support in Urdu and English languages. Crisis Counselling and programs are free.

Ma’an (Arabic for together) – Cultural Facilitator Worker Lama Farah introduced Ma’an, a program of Peel Children’s Aid Society and Polycultural ICS to build relationships with Arab communities and “provide culturally appropriate services to Arab children, youth and families.” More information is here.

Intergenerational Volunteering Opportunities at The Dam: Develop. Assist. Mentor

Carol Reist, Executive Director of The Dam, explained that The Dam is seeing record numbers of youths visit and is asking for volunteers to help during weekdays. Carol believes being a mentor to a youth is “80 per cent about being, and 20 per cent about doing…; so, come be with us.” To connect with The Dam and learn more about intergenerational volunteering, visit:

University of Toronto Mississauga, Laboratory for Social-Emotional Development and Intervention (SEDI Lab) Kindness Hall of Fame

Chanel Tsang, who oversees knowledge translation and community engagement initiatives at the SEDI Lab, encourages us to celebrate kindness, a key part of healthy development . “We’ve got the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, why not the Kindness Hall of Fame to recognize…wonderful people who keep kindness going in our communities?” To learn more about the Kindness Hall of Fame, click on the images below.

Kindness poster:

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