Canadian Red Cross Tiffany Circle: 13 Years of Impact

Written by Laura Isidean, Canadian Red Cross Tiffany Circle Member & Alison Thornton, Associate Director, Women in Philanthropy 

The Canadian Red Cross Tiffany Circle is marking a significant milestone - 13 years of an extraordinary group of women philanthropists passionately supporting the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, its mission, and fundamental principles. 

Recently, Tiffany Circle members gathered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq People, for their 13th Anniversary Event. This annual gathering provided an opportunity for members to engage in leadership updates, educational sessions, and networking activities. It was a chance to reconnect, celebrate achievements, and discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

As the Canadian Red Cross Tiffany Circle reflects on its 13-year journey, the members continue their unwavering commitment to supporting the organization’s vital humanitarian work. Their impact extends to local communities and global causes, driven by their determination to be a prominent women-led force in philanthropy. 
A Tiffany Circle Member smiling with joy while sitting in the True Colours Art Gallery, The Muir Hotel, Halifax, Nova ScotiaTiffany Circle Members hearing from Red Cross Leadership, Janet Johnson, Conrad Sauvé and Bill Lawlor

Emergency Preparedness and Recovery  

At this special event, we were reminded by Conrad Sauvé, President, and CEO, of the importance of emergency preparedness and recovery, highlighting that the Canadian Red Cross must remain agile and adaptable in the face of evolving humanitarian crises. He underscored the significance of investing in both short-term response efforts and long-term resilience-building initiatives to ensure communities are better equipped to withstand and recover from disasters. 

Conrad emphasized the importance of collaboration and partnership in addressing complex challenges, emphasizing that no organization can tackle these issues alone. He spoke of the need for continued partnerships, like with the Tiffany Circle, to ensure that we are ready when needed.  

Two Tiffany Circle members hug each other with joyful smiles.We learned that responding to health in emergencies can take many forms, including using the Friendly Calls Program – in which a few Tiffany Circle members participate as callers –  to offer support through preparedness and check-in calls.  The availability of health equipment in shelters for those challenged by traditional cots was also discussed. The Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP) is well established in Atlantic Canada, and it provides health equipment to individuals recovering from illness or injury and empowers people to live with independence and dignity. 

Commitment to Reconciliation  

The members were led through the moving Truth Before Reconciliation Exercise by Maxine Schminke (Manager, Community Programming, Prevention & Safety) and Danielle Robinson (Senior Advisor, Knowledge Mobilization, Emergency Management). In a safe space for conversation, this exercise teaches the history and repercussions of colonization on Turtle Island. 

We learned about some of the ways the Canadian Red Cross is working in partnership with Indigenous communities across the country, in response to disasters as well as through programs to promote preparedness, safety, and wellbeing. 

For many of us, this will be a moment that remains on our hearts as the highlight of the two and a half days of programming and activities. It is an exercise that we hope to be able to bring to our own hometown communities to continue to build an understanding of our shared history and commitment to reconciliation. 

The role of International Humanitarian Law  

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) was also a topic of discussion when armed conflicts around the world are present and top of mind to many.   

It was timely to have a vibrant presentation from Catherine Gribbin, (Senior Legal Advisor, International Humanitarian Law) who took us through an introduction to IHL and how the Canadian Red Cross is actively involved in educating about IHL.  

IHL exists to protect those who are not, or who are no longer, participating in fighting and restricts the methods and weapons used in armed conflict. Part of the International Committee of the Red Cross role in IHL involves educating States, members of militaries, lawmakers, and citizens about the principles of IHL.    

Involvement with the Canadian Red Cross is a Family Affair  

For many of our Tiffany Circle members, this represents a family affair as evident by the several mother daughter duos in attendance.  

A special moment happened at our evening reception Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 when Tiffany Circle member, Susan Prior, took to the stage. To a warm audience of fellow Tiffany Circle members, local CRC supporters and volunteers, Susan shared her personal story. 

In 1946, from the UK, Susan arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax as an infant in her mother’s arms on the HMS Letitia. The mother and daughter were welcomed and supported by the Canadian Red Cross. Similar to the newcomer programs that happen today, the pair was assisted with products, like diapers and warm clothes, to help them settle into their new lives in Canada.  

This experience was the beginning of a lifetime of philanthropic involvement with the organization including with the Tiffany Circle. Susan noted that “the Tiffany Circle has introduced me to a wonderfully diverse group women from several countries. All the women share a belief in volunteering to help those who need it most. I have been proud to introduce family members to TC, and my latest member is my dear daughter Bonnie who is here with me tonight.” There was not a dry eye in the room.  

Delicious East Coast Hospitality for Good 

Tiffany Circle members pose for a group photo at Peace By Chocolate waterfront shop in Halifax.Throughout the memorable weekend, east coast resilience, charm, and hospitality were in fine form. On the final day of the Anniversary event, Tiffany Circle members were hosted by Mila Zadin from Peace by Chocolate at their beautiful Halifax waterfront storefront.

While chocolate samples were had, Mila explained that since 2016 Peace By Chocolate has collaborated on 10 campaigns with the Canadian Red Cross. This includes fundraising efforts towards our appeals such as the Atlantic Canada Wildfire Relief, Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal, Syria-Türkiye Earthquake Relief and more.   

By celebrating 13 years of generosity and voluntary service, the women of the Canadian Red Cross Tiffany Circle continue to be a driving force for good and play a critical role as strong ambassadors for the Red Cross in their local communities, across Canada and the globe.  

Almost 30 members of the Canadian Red Cross Tiffany Circle will next meet as a global sisterhood for the Tiffany Circle International Council Forum in Geneva, Switzerland on October 2 – 5, 2024.  “The Journey of Humanity” forum will be attended by women philanthropists from North America, Australia, Europe and Africa uniting for a global perspective of the impact and work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and will provide abundant opportunities to connect with other participants. 

To learn more about the Tiffany Circle, visit the Canadian Red Cross Tiffany Circle and if you are interested in joining the Canadian Red Cross Tiffany Circle or attending the Tiffany Circle International Council Forum, please contact Alison Thornton, Associate Director, Women in Philanthropy.  

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