By Francine Mbvoumbo
My parents had loft y dreams for my education that led me to the University of Ottawa — at the time, a foreign place far away from the cocoon I had known for 19 years in my home country of Cameroon in Africa. Daunting? Certainly. But I knew I was ready and determined to thank them for all their sacrifices to afford me this luxury, and I was ready to make them proud.
The words uttered by my biological mother before starting my journey to the unknown would shape my quest to build a strong support system. She said, “Open up to people and be wise.” After university , I gravitated toward learning from mature, experienced women and we organically developed a mentoring relationship. It wasn’t until I moved to Toronto to pursue my career and obtain my MBA that I undertook the bold step of moving out of my comfort zone by launching myself into community work. This is where I observed that the wisdom I had acquired from my biological mother, female mentors and my spiritual mothers had started to manifest itself, and self-development, welcoming discomfort and practicing selflessness became guiding principles. I was determined to share the lessons learned with my peers, to encourage them to step out of their comfort zones and reach out to more experienced women to further develop themselves. I chose to achieve this by creating a platform where intergenerational knowledge transfer would happen organically.
Perhaps poet Maya Angelou said it best: “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” This became the leading thought and guiding principle of building the Mothers to Daughters (M2D) community . It is incumbent upon me to pass on the knowledge I have acquired to future generations of women to create a better tomorrow, and I’m doing it one conversation at a time.
As the chair and president of the organization, I started Mothers to Daughters to pay homage to my biological mother and the female mentors and spiritual mothers who went out of their way to share their wisdom with me. Since its inception in March 2020, our not-for-profit open community has been creating an education-focused platform where women (including individuals who identify as women) from a multitude of generations, cultures, races and backgrounds can find a support system in each other. Intergenerational inclusion and engagement are key concepts — we are bridging the gap of lived experience between women among generations. M2D offers two flagship programs — Legacy Building (which is an apprenticeship program tailored for women seeking personal, career or business advice) and Guiding Lights (which is tailored for female newcomers to help them integrate into the workforce and business landscape in Canada).
M2D would not exist without the unconditional support of our team of volunteers — our board members, our leadership and extended teams, as well as our friends and family. Th ey are the true change-makers for championing this cause and trusting me to lead them. We are mothers, daughters or both, and we highlight the interchangeable roles women play in our community. I have witnessed instances where a daughter has “mothered” a mother and vice-versa because we all learn from each other. Our long-term vision is to foster increased representation of women in leadership roles. We commit to a safe, inclusive, diverse and equitable haven where all women — experienced or newcomers — come together to educate, engage and empower each other.
We welcome collaboration opportunities of all natures to raise more awareness around the transformative value of intergenerational learning relationships of women and mentoring. For moreinformation, motherstodaughters.ca.