On Mother’s Day, you can support mothers who are accessing Canada’s emergency shelter system and seeking safety. Across Canada, countless mothers will arrive at the doors of emergency shelters hoping to find safe space, on May 9. They are fleeing their homes with their children, to escape unspeakable violence and abuse. While some Mother’s will undoubtedly be honoured on this special day, some will try to comfort within secure shelter beds. The evolution of Mother’s Day is not exempt from a history of tension, power/control and commercialization. In fact, it is full of examples of women’s leadership and activism.
Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day over a century ago. She was determined to fulfill her mother’s dream of having a day where mothers are honoured. Three years after her mother passed away, Anna held a memorial for her mother at Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton. She handed out hundreds of her mother’s favourite flower, white carnations, to all the mothers who attended. Anna’s memorial for her mother is now recognized as the first Mother’s Day. Within a few short years, the popularity of honouring one’s mother grew and Mother’s Day would take hold.
As popularity grew, Mother’s Day soon became commercialized. Anna struggled tremendously as she felt the idea of honouring one’s mother was lost to commercialization and profit margins. Throughout her lifetime, Anna fought hard to reclaim the origins of Mother’s Days, however her efforts would fall short, as businesses continued to market and sell a commercialized version of Anna’s dream.
This year, we are asking allies to remember Anna Jarvis and her life’s journey to recognize mothers. Mother’s Day must be more than flowers and cards – Mother’s Day must be a day where all mothers enjoy safety, equity and violence-free lives.
You can support mothers who have left their homes and are seeking safe shelter by donating to your local women’s shelter. In the City of Hamilton, Interval House of Hamilton supports women and children experiencing violence by providing safe shelter, counselling and supports. You can help by donating directly to Interval House of Hamilton, or by participating in the Mother’s Day Fundraiser.