Muskoka To-DAILY

MWAG marks 30 anniversary with gala Aug. 29

HUNTSVILLECome celebrate 30 years of helping women in Muskoka.

In 1984 the Muskoka Women’s Advocacy Group (MWAG) was founded by a group of concerned women and men to help make the community safer, and that important work continues today.

Since 1984, MWAG has been assisting women and children in a variety of ways, from opening Muskoka Interval House in 1985 and Chrysalis in 2007 to providing community education programs and around-the-clock crisis support services.

Although this challenging work is ongoing, it’s important to celebrate what has been achieved in three decades of advocacy – and that’s what will be happening on Aug. 29 at MWAG’s gala DIVA Night/Surfacing” event.

The whole community is invited to join in this special anniversary celebration at Huntsville’s Algonquin Theatre, beginning at 7:30 p.m. with an exhibit featuring work by over two dozen local artists. Much of this artwork will be for sale and, in most cases, a portion or all of the proceeds will be donated to MWAG. The event’s signature piece, “Surfacing” was painted by Joy McCormack, one of the organization’s founders, and it will be sold by silent auction.

At 8 p.m., DIVAs (that stands for Domestic Intimate Violence Advocates) will be invited to step away from the art show and move upstairs to the theatre’s main stage for a multifaceted, multi-media presentation. Directed by Meg Jordan, this production will feature the premier of a short film by Virginia Hastings called “Turning the Tide” and an excellent selection of local performers, including music by: Ruth Cassie, Barry Hayward, Christine Heron, Benji Jordan, Karen May, Trixie and the Hooligan and Amy Wallace. As well, there will be theatrical and dance performances by Jennifer Johns and others.

The show itself will be divided into two sections, entitled “Hope Rising” and “Singing Truth to Power.” In between, an intermission will provide more time to peruse and buy art in Partners’ Hall, while having a snack or drink. At the opening of the second half of the stage show, a special door prize will be given away. Jewelry designer Stan W. Tait generously donated a lovely Angel Pendant (valued at $50) for MWAG’s use during DIVA Night, and the planning committee decided to use it in a draw so that anyone present has an equal opportunity to win, whether the person purchased the ticket or was given one by an anonymous donor.

MWAG hopes to be able to offer free tickets to clients with financial challenges who would like to join in the DIVA Night celebration but could not afford the $20 ticket. The organization has put out a call to supporters – individuals and businesses –  encouraging them to buy blocks of tickets for MWAG to use in this way.

If you want to assist with this endeavor, please contact Algonquin Theatre manager Matt Huddlestone directly by phone 705-789-1751 (ext. 2241) or email Or, you can purchase tickets at the theatre box office and drop them off at one of MWAG’s shelters, Chrysalis in Huntsville or Muskoka Interval House in Bracebridge.

In addition to operating these two shelters for abused women and their children, MWAG has been offering community outreach services and drop-in/support groups for women for 30 years. One of the earliest women’s support programs was called “Surfacing,” which is why this year’s event title is particularly relevant to organizers. Artists submitting work for the Aug. 29 exhibit were asked to comment on how it related to the “Surfacing” theme; their statements will be on display as part of show but, for a sneak preview, please look for the event on Facebook (hosted by “Muskoka Wag).

Details about DIVA Night/”Surfacing” are also available on the agency’s website: The site, as well, is a great resource for information about abuse, myths and facts, shelter services, how to help yourself or a friend, and even has a free downloadable book called A New Beginning.

Beginning anew, surfacing from a bad situation and seeking a better life, free from abuse and violence is, in essence, what MWAG’s three decades of work is all about – advocating for improved opportunities and increased safety for women and children in Muskoka.

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