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Soup for Solace

by Kelli Gustafson / Edmonton Oilers

Monday marks the fifth year that the Oilers Ladies became Soup Sisters.

“It’s women helping women,” explained Oilers Lady, Kelly Talbot.

Photo by Andy Devlin.

On February 29th, Oilers Ladies volunteered their evening learning to make hearty soups, while providing hot meals for the Edmonton Women’s Shelter Ltd. (WIN House) and WINGS (Women in Need Growing Stronger) of Providence.

“I love being involved in the community, and this is such a great cause!” Talbot added, excited to be partaking in her first year as a Soup Sister.

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WIN House is a non-profit agency, which operates three emergency shelters in the city. These shelters provide comprehensive support to women and children who have experienced family violence, as well as victims of human trafficking. One of the shelters, known as Carol’s House, was named in honour of Renee Katz’s mother, in recognition of the support the Katz family has provided for the organization.

Alongside WIN House, WINGS of Providence is a non-profit organization that offers a second-stage shelter and affordable housing for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. Both WIN House and WINGS of Providence are supported by Soup Sisters.

Photo by Andy Devlin.

Soup Sisters was first founded by Sharon Hapton, in Calgary (“although we don’t hold that against her,” laughed Fervone Goings, Booking Coordinator and Spokesperson for Soup Sisters Edmonton), with the idea to create a year-round program offering participants the chance to learn to make soup under the guidance of a “Soupervisor”. In exchange for the opportunity to learn a few culinary ‘tricks of the trade’, participants would provide wholesome soups for local shelters.


Before the Oilers ladies tied-on their aprons and hit the kitchen, they heard from WIN House Board Member, Percy Woods:

“Often when we think ‘shelter’, we think ‘homeless shelter’, but there’s no economic category for these women [at WIN House].”

Woods fought back his emotions as he described some of the difficult situations the women and children have had to flee, leaving everything they knew behind, and bringing “nothing more than two grocery bags of personal belongings.”

Since opening in 2009, it is estimated that over half a million servings of soup have been provided to women shelters across Canada.

“The mandate is to provide comfort to women and children,” said Goings. “It’s something safe, it’s something predictable, and it’s comfort food!”

Photo by Andy Devlin.

Besides providing a meal for those who may find themselves in a time of need, Soup Sisters also aims to serve the message, “we care”. By having people from the community volunteer their time peeling carrots, slicing celery, and chopping onions, Soup Sisters aims to serve more than just soup—but for those at the receiving end to know that the soup was made by someone who recognizes their challenges, and wants to help.

Goings described the vast diversity of groups that participate in volunteering with Soup Sisters: from corporate events to bridal showers, “it really runs the spectrum!”

“Sometimes you get some groups that come in and aren’t familiar with cooking at all… but as a group effort, it comes together. It’s like the soup—you take all the different kinds of vegetables and bring them together, and it makes this amazing thing!” smiled Goings.

“It doesn’t even feel like work, but it’s so impactful!”

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