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We Remember

Friday, November 29, 2013 12:23 AM

We are just over a week away from December 6th and as part of the One Spark Candle Campaign, we are asking you to place lit candles in your window that day to honour women lost to violence and to light up our communities with hope for women experiencing violence. Many may have personal reasons for lighting candles, but if you are looking for a reason to take part in this campaign, please watch this video from Women's College puts a name and a reminder of real lives lost in Ontario to violence...and provides a powerful reason to remember and to work to end violence. Please light a candle on December 6th and then post pictures of your lit candles on the One Spark Facebook page ( so that those experiencing violence know we stand with them. Thanks.

One Spark Candle Campaign

Monday, November 25, 2013 5:53 PM

“Millions of women and girls around the world are assaulted, beaten, raped, mutilated or even murdered in what constitutes appalling violations of their human rights. [...] We must fundamentally challenge the culture of discrimination that allows violence to continue. On this International Day, I call on all governments to make good on their pledges to end all forms of violence against women and girls in all parts of the world, and I urge all people to support this important goal.”
                              -UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

“Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation. And it is perhaps the most pervasive.  It knows no boundaries or geography, culture or wealth.  As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.”
                              -Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

Today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  It is a critical opportunity for the international community to take pause; reflect on the causes and the pervasiveness of violence against women worldwide; and to contemplate meaningful actions to bring an end to the violence.

To mark this day, One Spark is proud to be launching the One Spark Candle Campaign. This campaign asks people to place lit candles in their windows on December 6th, which is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. 

The meaning of the lit candles is three-fold: to honour the women we have lost to violence; to give hope to women experiencing violence; and to bring the issue of violence against women out of the darkness. With a goal of one million people lighting candles on December 6th, we hope women experiencing violence will find strength and encouragement through a mass outward display of community support.

What can you do?

First, please remember to put lit candles in your window(s) on December 6th.  Show your willingness to stand with women experiencing violence and honour those that have been lost to violence.  Use this opportunity to talk to your families, friends, and children about preventing and ending violence.

Second, post pictures of your lit candles on the One Spark Facebook page.  In addition to glowing windows, we want our page to light up with hope, and to demonstrate an international commitment to ending violence against women.

Third, share this blog and promote the Candle Campaign through your social networks. Our goal is to have one spark become a million glowing candles that send a message of hope to women experiencing violence, as well as a message that our communities will not tolerate violence.

Finally, “like” the One Spark page on Facebook for updates on the campaign and for information that you can share with your networks.  You can also follow us on Twitter a @onesparkcanada as well as get updates through the One Spark company page on LinkedIn.

Thank you for being an important part of this campaign.  It’s time for change, and we believe it can begin with a single spark.

Executive Director

Save the Shoes: Donate a Laptop

Thursday, November 21, 2013 2:41 PM

One of our favourite TED talks is by volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos, whose message is simple: small acts can have big impact.  We’re appealing to you – our friends and corporate supporters – to help us out in a way that can make a tremendous difference by donating your retired (but still functional) laptops to One Spark.  One of our goals is to ensure that women have the basic technology they need to generate self employment income.  If you are upgrading your personal laptop computer or if you are a company that regularly upgrades your computers and discards laptops that have become outdated, please consider donating them to One Spark for re-use by women entrepreneurs.  It could serve as an invaluable tool in a woman’s journey to a violence-free life.

And, if you want just a smidge more inspiration to be in touch and donate a laptop, watch Mark Bezos’ can’t help but be moved when he says, “Don’t wait...don’t wait until you have your first million to make a difference in someone’s life.  If you have something to give, give it now.  Not every day is going to offer us the chance to save someone’s life, but every day offers a chance to affect one.  So, get in the game, save the shoes.”

For more information on how laptop donations will be used, visit  Thanks so much for keeping us in mind.

Executive Director

If you have a laptop or several laptops to donate, please email me at or give me a call at 416-697-0620.

Why Entrepreneurship?

Sunday, November 17, 2013 7:29 PM

At first blush, the idea of entrepreneurship as a solution to financial barriers faced by women – and in particular women in violent situations – may seem counter-intuitive. When the idea of One Spark was first percolating - and we were seeking feedback on the concept - we were often asked, “Is it realistic to be discussing a start-up business with a woman who may already be overwhelmed with other challenges”?  In asking the question, there may be certain assumptions being made about entrepreneurship: that business start-up is labour/resource-intensive; that you need to be starting from a place of financial security; that there is inherent risk; and/or that the best and most sound financial alternative is to work for someone else.

It’s important to bear in mind that starting a business does not automatically equate to a significant outlay of capital costs.  Our goal is to work with women to discuss their skills and talents and to identify ways that those skills can be brought to market quickly, easily, and within realistic financial parameters to meet a woman's individual needs. Where basic materials are required, One Spark offers $2,000 in materials subsidies that can be accessed for up to 2 years after a woman registers a business.  It is also our goal to break down every possible barrier that may prevent a woman from recognizing self-employment income: this is why our programming involves working with women to navigate the business registration process; covers registration costs; provides information and resources related to accounting, legal compliance, and government remittances; and provides the basic technology a woman will need to carry out business activities.

One of my favourite local businesses is a sunflower stand on a rural road not far from where I live.  It is an un-staffed stand where several bouquets are arranged by the road-side with a lock box and a sign that says, “$5.00/bunch.  Please deposit money in box”.  I stop at least once a week to pick up flowers.  It always reminds me that entrepreneurship and generating incremental income can be that simple.  It just takes some creative thinking about how skills/resources can be converted into income.

My favourite flower stand also debunks the myth that entrepreneurship is by definition an all-consuming, stand-alone undertaking.  One Spark believes that when a woman has a registered business, her options increase exponentially.  Some women may translate their self-employment into full-time work that has the capacity to fully meet their financial needs.  For others, self-employment may be a way to supplement part-time income.  For others still, self-employment income may supplement social benefits.  If any combination of the above can provide a woman with the financial security to ensure that she will be able to access safe housing and other basic life necessities when leaving a violent situation, then self-employment has proven its viability as one possible solution to financial barriers faced by women.

Finally, when we consider that, in Canada, 51.6% of lone parent families headed by women live in poverty, the issue of childcare becomes critical.  Without access to affordable childcare, many women have extremely limited options for balancing their care-giving responsibilities with opportunities to generate income.  This is a fundamental bond that unites women with entrepreneurship:  the flexibility of self-employment is a concrete response to the childcare gap.  In fact, it is a response with so much potential, that we believe the relationship between women and entrepreneurship will continue to evolve in ways unknown and that this relationship has the potential to re-shape women’s incomes in the years ahead.

All things considered, then, the question is not, “Is it realistic to discuss a start-up business with a woman escaping violence”?  It is, “Can we afford not to consider and discuss the income possibilities of self-employment and how they can reduce the risk of poverty”?  This discussion is imperative not just from a financial perspective, but also from the perspective of empowering women with options and opportunities and stimulating systemic change.  That is why One Spark believes so strongly in entrepreneurship: because we believe so strongly in the power of possibilities, and we have no doubt that possibilities are the birthplace of change.

Executive Director

Our Pro-Peace Rally

Thursday, November 14, 2013 4:44 PM

Mother Teresa has famously been attributed with saying, "I will never attend an anti-war rally; but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I will be there." At One Spark, every time we say, "We believe in possibilities", we're embracing the same desire for positive change and real action. Violence can be a challenging, distressing - and at times horrific - part of the human experience. For women living with violence that have limited or no financial means, the experience of violence can be wrapped in all kinds of additional challenges and the options may seem frightening and hopeless. Imagine facing the choice between living with violence and not having a home or food for you or your children. Our vision is a world where no woman has to make that choice. We believe there are opportunities to make systemic change and to help create livelihood options for women that are full of hope: it's our pro-peace rally.

One Spark is young, but we have big goals. We're starting by facilitating the process of registering women with their own business because it's a way to break down barriers to untapped income sources. It is an alternative that empowers women to take their unique skills, talents, and/or products to market; to generate incremental income; and to have the flexibility that women may need if they are also care-takers or balancing other life responsibilities. As we grow, we want to change socio-ecomonic frameworks and ensure women have a financial safety plan, so that lack of access to basic life necessities is never a reality that prevents a woman from escaping violence.

We hope you'll be part of our rally and that you'll help us seek, develop, and believe in possibilities!

Welcome to One Spark!!

Executive Director