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Letter to Provincial Council – Eliana

by on May 2, 2011

April 20, 2011

Dear Marnie,

I have known you for about 20 years. You were a trainer when I took my first Trainer’s training in Northern Area. I was so pleased that you were going to be the Provincial Commissioner because I respected you and your views. Much thought has been given about Guiding in Ontario before sitting down to write to you today. You have not had an easy job as Provincial Commissioner during the first years of Transformation.

Guiding in Ontario needs some help with morale. I would suggest that you and your successor call for grass roots forums that would include Unit Guiders and Trefoil Guild members from all parts of Ontario to sit down and discuss ways of getting Ontario Guiding back on track.

Province has let me down and the whole of Guiding in Ontario. Why do I say that? Because Ontario Council has not followed the Girl Guide Laws

• Use my resources wisely
• Share in the sisterhood of Guiding

The funds raised by the many Units in the Ontario Guiding organization have not been used wisely. According to the last three years financial statements that Ontario Council issued to the charities directorate our funds are diminishing rapidly.

The Unit Guider has been abandoned by Province …..

  • 1. Taking away their right to camp! Yes Marnie, camps are no longer available to the majority of Units, especially in Northern Ontario where 4 of 4 camp were closed, in Eastern Ontario 3 of 5 camps were closed and in South Western Ontario where 7 of 12 camps were closed by Province. The camps that are still open cost too much for the average Unit to attend as the rental in some cases have increased and the distance to travel also has increased. Camps were closed because of reports made by paid Consultants who had little or no understanding of the number of girls who attended these camps and of the Guiders who maintained them. Also, as I understand, after Province took over these camps and under Provinces control they did not make a profit. Recently a number of Guiders went to Camp Adelaide, near Haliburton, to do a spring clean-up and some much needed painting. Guiders are still very good at volunteering and using their resources wisely, however, when the question was asked about funds available to purchase needed supplies for this project, the representative from Ontario Council stated that “there is no money in the budget!”

    After attending a pre-camp meeting for this summer Composite Camp at THRAC, located in New Lowell just outside Barrie, I find that this particular camp is in dire need of new tents and equipment. What did Province do with all the tents and equipment from camps that were closed? I understand most of these tents and equipment were given away to non-guiding organizations without as much as a letter of offer to the camps that were allowed to stay open. When existing camps ask for help they are told “there is no money in the budget”.

    Marnie, you were quoted in the Toronto Star a couple years ago saying “we were not meant to be property managers”. How is it that before Ontario Council took over, the Guiders running these camps were perfectly good property managers and never asked for fund from Ontario Council? Yes, Ontario Council is not very good at being property managers as shown in the statements regarding Doe Lake, which still remains open and losing money! Something doesn’t make sense here!

  • 2.Share in the sisterhood of Guiding! – New Guiders and Guiders with many years of experience have no way of ‘sharing in the sisterhood of Guiding’ as we did before transformation. Trainings take place in faraway places, not necessarily convenient to many Guiders. The types of trainings needed are like the previous Area Day trainings when Guiders could get together in their local area to learn, share and network. This is how many of us stayed in Guiding even after our daughters left. Now it is all e-learning and no physical support. Sure we are kept posted by email. Do you know how many emails I receive weekly through my Community Leader and Ontario Council? Few of these emails are of any importance to every Guider as they are all general information. How many Guiders really read everything they receive?

In summation, my question is “what happened to ALL the money Ontario Council received from the Districts, Division, and Areas?” Ontario Council received this money as dictated and some was ear-marked for specific projects – none of these project materialized! Was it ALL put into hiring paid staff called Unit Administrators who are doing the jobs that volunteers once did?

Again I strongly recommend – call for grass roots forums that would include Unit Guiders and Trefoil Guild members from all parts of Ontario to sit down and discuss ways of getting Ontario Guiding back on track. There is no input from the Unit Guider of their needs. Surveys are not the answer. However, if you take my recommendation seriously, you will also need to take seriously the ideas that are offered and implement them.


Eliana Wheeler

Chris Motsch – Provincial Council
Karen Spykers – Provincial Council
Sarah Chadwick – Provincial Council
Chris Burton, Chief Commissioner – Girl Guides of Canada – Guides du Canada
Judy Maurice, Deputy Chief Commissioner – Provincial
Sarah Govan – National Council
Bobbi Hoadley – National Council

  1. Sharon Patrois -30 North Bay Brownies permalink

    Eliana ,you have written great letter and I agree with you whole heartedly. I have been a Guider for 38 yrs all of which have been with girls from Northern Ontario. How lucky we felt having a choice of where to camp with our girls with out high costs of fees and travelling. Now that has been taken away to cover the debts accumulated by Ontario Council and some southern Ontario camps. We will not camp at Doe Lake because of their prices and having to fund our own transportation costs. It is only because of all the children who really need and enjoy Guiding that my leaders and I have already registered to return to our unit. We have to literally block out the frustrating and angry feelings we have for our Councils since they abandoned us with their so called Transformation, which was supposed to benefit us as Units and Guiders, but instead broke down our foundation built on unification and communication. I will not abandon our “northern children”, but the support we used to have from Ontario and National Councils is no longer felt. I agree with you Eliana, if the spirit of guiding is to be saved, Councils must listen to us , but also ACT upon what we have to say. Many units and Guiders will be lost this year and the cause is totally on the shoulders of the two Councils. We have NO TRESPASSING signs on our local camp gate, but we will never give up the fight to keep what we believe is rightfully OURS. WE MUST keep the true spirit of guiding ALIVE for the sake of our future girls !!

  2. Robin Reed permalink

    Eliana, this is a very thoughtful and well worded letter.

    I have recently moved and have taken some time off to adjust to a new city and new job, however my daughter transferred units and is finishing her third year of guides. If she decides to continue on into pathfinders next year, I was thinking about joining her as a pathfinder leader. A few years ago, this would have been a given, I would not have had to think about it. With all of the changes in Ontario Guiding, I am still not 100% sure that I want to continue.

    Eliana, it is leaders like you that are so dedicated, and the fact that it is the girls that are suffering that swing me toward staying in Guiding. Thank you for sharing your letter.

  3. Doreen Dath permalink

    I would just like to echo the sentiments of Eliana,s letter to Province. As a former unit guider and someone who celebrated the guiding program in past years, I am very disappointed in the events that have occured. Our area lost our camp and I understand the camp is being sold, or maybe has already been sold. I still love guiding and do not regret the years I volunteered and am still a loyal Trefoil member. I would love to be included in the forum that was suggested.

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