This Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate the strength our mothers passed down.

By Staff

 

Every day, moms around the world inspire their daughters to become strong women. Together, these role models are an unstoppable force forging opportunity for the next generation, whether by encouraging volunteerism at a young age or empowering children with education.

This Mother’s Day, we honour the special bond between mothers and daughters. From the rural countryside of India to a Canadian metropolis, these are the female change-makers of today, raising the leaders of tomorrow.

 

Photography by Wanda O’Brien


Who: Judy, Daisy & Faith | ME to WE Artisan | Kenya

Judy Cheborkei follows the footsteps of her daughters when she leaves for work in the morning. Her girls, ages 13 and 10, walked the same path to school slightly earlier. Judy works as a ME to WE Artisan in WE’s Empowerment Centre in Enelerai, Kenya, located next to the grounds of Enelerai Primary School where Daisy and Faith are in Grades 7 and 5. Every weekday, the Empowerment Centre is buzzing as women gather to bead Rafiki classics and new innovations, enabling women to gain an income and financial independence to help care for their families. On weekends, Judy will pull out a tray of beads and string at home, flanked on both sides by her daughters in their living room. She’s determined to see them both through high school, and then college.

 

Q&A with Daisy & Faith:

Share your favourite memory of your mom.

Daisy: When she takes us to the market with her and buys us bananas.

What’s one lesson your mother passed on that’s made you feel empowered as a strong woman?

Faith: She has taught us to be hardworking, especially in school.

Fill in the blank: My mom is a super hero because ___.

Daisy: She is hardworking.
Faith: She is loving.

Interview has been edited and translated from Swahili.

 

Photography by Mathias Semmann


Who: Clare & Nancy

For Nancy McCain, watching her daughter Clare Morneau come into her own as a young adult is a proud moment. Nearing the end of her first year in university, Clare—a student at Yale—is already an old-hand at initiating positive change on an international level. There was that summer internship she did at the Global Humanitarian Lab (a partner organization of the United Nations), the inspiring book she published (Kakuma Girls: Sharing Stories of Hardship and Hope from Kakuma Refugee Camp), oh, and the fact that she boasts status as both a WE Day speaker and a TEDx Talks guest. Clearly, this young woman is a superstar change-maker, but who’s her super hero? Her mom. A tireless social advocate herself, Nancy has served on the SickKids Foundation Board of Directors and is acting chair of The Arts Access Fund, an organization supporting youth without the means to develop their artistic talent. Above all, though, she is a role model—Clare’s role model.

Quote. This bracelet is the perfect Mother's Day gift because it's not only something that my mom will love, but it also gives back by helping provide mothers and newborns in Kenya with health care. I can't think of a better gift for my mom; it's focused on giving back and improving our world—just like she is. Unquote.

Buy this item: Mother’s Day Semiprecious Tamaa bracelet – Rose Quartz

 

Q&A with Clare:

Share your favourite Mother’s Day memory.

When I was little, my siblings and I would always get up to make my mom breakfast in bed. One year, I remember my little brother and I got up especially early to make her pancakes. We did a horrible job, of course, but we had so much fun being up earlier than my mom and making her something special.

What’s one lesson your mother passed on that’s made you feel empowered as a strong woman?

My mom has always taught me to stand up for myself. She’s taught me so much about knowing my self-worth and standing up for that in situations where I would otherwise feel uncomfortable. I think it’s an incredible lesson to learn as a young woman.

Fill in the blank: My mom is a super hero because ___.

My mom is a super hero because she touches the life of everyone she knows—she cares deeply for everyone around her. She has an unbelievable ability to bring so much positivity to the lives of others.

 

Photography by Sara Cornthwaite


Who: Ganga, Lerki & Indra | Farmer and goat herder | India

Indra, 11, sits perched between her mom and grandmother, with the newest addition to the family’s livestock poking its head into the photo frame—WE’s famed “super” goat. With more meat on its bones and producing more milk than conventional goat breeds, the Sirohi goat provides economic security and increases nutrition for families in Rajasthan, India. Indra’s mom, Lerki Bai, is part of a women’s self-help group that received the superior goat breed (thanks to those who donate with WE ) and is realizing new opportunities for her family, especially her daughter.

 

Q&A with Indra:

Share your favourite memory of your mom.

My first day of school my mom got me a new uniform to wear, and she helped me dress up and prepare to go. My mom also wakes up every morning to cook my breakfast before school. That time is very special to me.

What’s one lesson your mother passed on that’s made you feel empowered as a strong woman?

My mom does not read or write and never got the opportunity to study. My mom always wanted her kids to get educated. I want to become a teacher. I work hard because my mom wants me to be educated and get a good job.

Fill in the blank: My mom is a super hero because ___.

She works in the field during every season, and she also works at home. She takes care of the family very well, and she never gets time to rest and is always super active. That’s why she is my super hero mom.

Interview has been edited and translated from Mewari.

 

Photography by Zeddy Kosgei


Who: Philes & Mary | Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School | Kenya

Being a strong role model isn’t limited to mothers and daughters—and that’s why we’re celebrating the power of the teacher-student relationship. Nowhere is this more evident than across WE’s Kisaruni Group of Schools in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Just take biology teacher Philes Kebaso, whose teaching philosophy inspires girls to refuse to let the STEM subjects be a boy’s club. She’s been a mentor to Grade 12 student Mary Ngerechi for the past four years, instilling in her the love of science and a passion for the field post-graduation. Scholarships to Kisarunii ensure students have access to exceptional teachers and the fully equipped classrooms to excel.

 

Q&A with Mary:

Share your favourite memory of your teacher.

She is very caring. She will take time, even outside of class, to know what is going on with us.

What’s one lesson your teacher has passed on that’s made you feel empowered as a strong woman?

She encourages me to be hardworking because it is the only way I will succeed in life.

Fill in the blank: My teacher is a super hero because ___.

Because she is caring … and my mom is a superhero because she’s hardworking.

Interview has been edited and translated from Swahili.

 

Photography by Mathias Semmann


Who: Helen, Amy & Grace

Amy Burstyn is known on the media scene for her PR prowess. Like her mother, Helen, Amy’s passion for the arts has made her a vital part of Toronto’s cultural fabric. Between these two powerhouse women, there’s an almost endless number of esteemed side gigs to juggle when they’re not running their own public relations agency—the eponymously named Burstyn Inc. Coordinating the everyday demands of work with volunteer positions like co-chair of the Toronto Public Library Foundation’s Book Lovers’ Ball (Amy) or director of the Toronto International Film Festival (Helen), is without doubt a feat. Still, no matter how full their schedules are, the pair always find time to give back to the local community. Now a mother herself, Amy is passing on the spirit of charity instilled by her mom—co-founder of the Pecaut Centre for Social Impact—to daughter Grace. Sounds like a WE Family to us!

Quote. My mother always taught me the importance of giving back to the community. I love that ME to WE's products make an impact, empower people to change the world with their everyday consumer choices. Unquote.

Buy this item: Intention necklace Love – Rose Quartz

 

Q&A with Amy:

Share your favourite Mother’s Day memory.

My favourite Mother’s Day memory is the year I had my daughter Grace, and had the opportunity to not only celebrate my own amazing mom, but truly understand how incredible it is to take on the role of mother myself.

What’s one lesson your mother passed on that’s made you feel empowered as a strong woman?

My mother loves working and always made it a priority to excel in her professional life, as well as get involved in volunteerism and the community, while still being an incredibly involved mother to four daughters (and four granddaughters). I’ve always looked at her as a role model for the type of work-life balance I endeavour to achieve.

Fill in the blank: My mom is a super hero because ___.

She somehow does it all … and always with a smile. She has four daughters (all of whom she speaks to on a daily basis), four granddaughters and a very active career. She is not only my business partner at Burstyn Inc., but also chairs a number of prominent boards in the city and is a recent recipient of the Order of Canada. She also makes time for herself, has a very large group of friends and regularly travels the world. She has somehow mastered the superpower of creating infinite time!

 

Photography by Karloso Fiallos


Who: Carmen, Salome & Noris | Farmer supplying ME to WE Coffee | Ecuador

Carmen Chávez is a coffee farmer who supplies ME to WE Coffee and whose inspiration from the land knows no bounds. Her determination resulted in her daughters being not only educated, but also confident young women, no matter who they come up against. Carmen’s the reason one daughter ran for “Queen of the Parish”—a well-known competition in Ecuador municipalities, one that farmers’ daughters don’t often audition for. But with her mom by her side, Noris is realizing her potential while staying true to her roots.

 

Q&A with Noris:

Share your favourite memory of your mom.

When I was a candidate running for “Queen” of our parish, all the other girls were renting their dresses. I was a little nervous when my mom started sewing my dress herself, out of coffee beans! I thought it was going to be made with branches and be awful. It was a lot of work, she pricked her fingers many times, but it was all worth it, because by the end of it I had the best dress. When I saw the dress, I was like, “Thank you, Mom! I love you! I love you!” Everyone was asking how she did it, and everyone wanted a picture of the dress. They told my mom that it was a lot of work making that dress, and she answered, “I did it out of love for my daughter.” It was beautiful.

What’s one lesson your mother passed on that’s made you feel empowered as a strong woman?

First, humility … and to be strong, and that everything you set out to do, do with love and it can be achieved. She raised me with values: respecting elders, sharing what I have even if it’s a little. And, if something would go wrong, for example with my studies, she would always support me and say things like, “You can do it. I know you can.”

Fill in the blank: My mom is a super hero because ___.

She’s the best. I’ve talked to her about this, and she’s told me that it’s her kids and the fields [that motivate her]. She loves her fields, especially coffee. Every time we go to harvest coffee, it’s nice because we sit around a tree and talk and make jokes. She says she does it all so that her kids do their best and don’t depend on anyone, so that no one has a say over us. She said that when that’s done, she will stop working so hard.

Interview has been edited and translated from Spanish.

 

Photography by Mathias Semmann


Who: Adrienne & Riley

As a teacher and a mother, mentoring is part of Adrienne Slover’s everyday life. Her daughter Riley may just be a toddler, but she’s already savvy to the fact that her mom and Wonder Woman have bravery in common. “My mom is a super hero because she is brave!” Riley exclaims. For Adrienne, this character trait is best demonstrated through helping others. And she’s doing just that. The co-founder of WE School’s initiative And Action!, Adrienne and Hollywood producer Evan Goldberg—a childhood friend—have made it their mission to provide young people with the opportunity to use their creativity to share important social messages through film. Can’t imagine big screen stars the likes of comedic actor Seth Rogan and Wonder’s Millie Davis passing through a school to film a short film with students? Think again. Where realizing positive impacts is involved, anything is possible with the help of teachers like Adrienne.

Quote. This is the perfect Mother's Day present because I like the idea of giving a gift that has an element of charity to it. Let's empower women to create something from their own culture and the proceeds can go to developing their lives and communities. What better way is there to honour a woman on Mother's Day than empowering another at the same time! Unquote.

Buy this item: Mother’s Day Rafiki bracelet

 

Q&A with Adrienne:

Share your favourite Mother’s Day memory.

My favourite Mother’s Day memory is the first Mother’s Day I shared with my daughter, mother and grandmother in 2015. It was very special because I was blessed that year with the birth of a healthy baby girl, and I was able to share that special day with other women who had such a strong role in raising me! My grandmother was 98 at the time! By this point, my daughter was approaching a year, and I had finally grasped what an amazing gift being a mother is but equally how challenging it is. On that first Mother’s Day, I celebrated all my accomplishments and hardships as a mom, along with honouring my mother and grandmother. Four generations of women is a very special thing and not all people are lucky enough to experience this!

What’s one lesson your mother passed on that’s made you feel empowered as a strong woman?

There are so many lessons that my mother has passed on that empower me on a regular basis. As a child, my mother and father always expressed pride in what my sister and I accomplished, as long as we tried our best. When we did experience failure, my mom was always there to pick us up, encourage us and remind us that we tried—[and that] is what is most important. I think this allowed me to develop a strong sense of self and to have confidence in trying new things and not being afraid of failing. Reflecting on this, I can confidently say that I owe a lot of the success I have accomplished in my life to my mother.

Fill in the blank: My mom is a super hero because ___.

My mother is a very warm and kind-hearted person. I have certainly come to appreciate her more now that I am a mother. Recognizing the sacrifices she has made and continues to make to support our family is something I try to acknowledge.

 

Photography by Ken Galloway


Who: Olga & Karelys | Cacao Farmer supplying ME to WE Chocolate | Ecuador

Olga Maria Laines Guagua is passing along lessons of hard work and love to her 18-year-old daughter, Karelys. They’re the same lessons Olga learned from her mom, growing up on her parents’ cacao farm along the coast of Ecuador. Now a cacao farmer with her own plot of land, Olga harvests the cacao pods’ treasure—to be turned into ME to WE Chocolate —knowing that the income she makes will support her daughter’s education and proceeds from the bar will return to Ecuador to support education, health and food programs. No matter how busy she is, Olga always makes time on the weekend to return to her parents’ farm and help out her mom. It’s through role modelling like this that she instills the importance of family in her daughter.

 

Q&A with Karelys:

Share your favourite memory of your mom.

I love cooking with my mother, helping each other in the kitchen, tasting each other’s food. I love that when I cook, my mother always knows what’s missing and helps me make it perfect.

What’s one lesson your mother passed on that’s made you feel empowered as a strong woman?

She’s taught me that school is important and that I have to keep studying because it’s something you’ll need for the rest of your life.

Fill in the blank: My mom is a super hero because ___.

She’s the best!

Interview has been edited and translated from Spanish.

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