Our winner of the first ever Mother of All Mothers Award, for 2023 is Savoy Howe.

I have been doing these Mother’s Day shows for some years and I believe the word mothering has a broader concept than just who gave birth to or raised us. Some mothers are mentors, creators and supporters of our ideas. So this year we honouedr a woman who embodies that aspect of a mother, a woman who cares for the most vulnerable in the population. I first met Savoy in my Second City days, when I taught her improv. I had lost track of her and then a few years back I saw her and her friend appearing almost nightly in my Facebook feed. They were dressed as men in flannel and hats, and went out into the cold handing out socks, sandwiches, gift cards for coffee and snacks and other essentials to people sleeping on the street. They raised hundreds and hundreds of dollars. And inspired other people to do the same. Including me. They were two people who taught me the power of sharing and asking for help on social media.Savoy hails from New Brunswick and started out wanting to be a boxer. After she won and lost a lot of fights-stories about the fights she took part in would make you want to take her home and put her to bed for a few days- she decided to start Toronto’s first women’s boxing gym, the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club. For a long time, Savoy and her students did workouts in the park and shared space in men’s boxing gyms. After a lot of community chats Savoy found space in an industrial building on Carlow, that would be perfect. She wrote a check for 6 grand. The only problem was she only had 200 in her bank account. She called everyone she knew, and by Monday there was enough money in the account. The gym opened. Next came a food bank. Then, after hearing someone needed a computer for school, the community donated enough laptops that there could be a “computer bank”. Soon, several donated bikes were locked up behind the gym. Those in need could just take one home. Then there was that time she got a call from a woman in trouble. “My husband is beating me up and I can’t stay here anymore.” Savoy hung up the phone, and called fifteen boxers, the husband left for work and a truck pulled up at her house. Other women arrived by car and bus. That night the woman was in a safe place.

There was also that time, Savoy also roller skated 1,600 kilometres to help provide education about HIV/AIDS, across Ontario. That time he created the Shape Your Life program for Women & Trans victims of violence. That time she went into seniors’ centres to teach senior women how to defend themselves if they were getting abused. This was a heartbreaking one because even though they were not going to leave their abusers, for many it was the first time they realized they had the right to a violent free life.

After years of giving to her community this way, COVID hit and Savoy kept providing food for those in need. Then after doing everything possible she lost the gym. It was a big loss, and probably the hardest fight she has had to date. But in classic Savoy, fashion kept rolling and adapting fighting for the rights of others. She also rediscovered her creativity. Savoy has done a one-woman show before now, one about her boxing career and now she is creating another one-woman show which is being developed as we speak.

But for me her ability to fight for the most vulnerable in her community and because, she continues to find ways to help this is why we want to honour Savoy Howe with the 2023 Mother of All Mother’s Day Award.

Our two Mother’s Day Shows were to say the least brilliant. An hour of beautiful, funny and touching stories and songs:

Thanks to the beautiful talents of:
singer, Barbara Johnston Her amazing dad Bob Johnston, Ann MerriamBella Grundy Immaculee Uwanyiligira, Carolyn Hart, Isabel Zed TeeCharlie Agathocleous.
And Howl and Roar records for sponsoring this event!
A big thank you to the audience who came and cheered us on and donated for next year’s recipient of this award. We raised $240.00 and hope to build on that so we can donate at least $500.00. This is a super grassroots idea I am starting to honour one local woman who mothers the most vulnerable in our community.  If you feel like giving a few quid you can e-transfer to debkimmett@gmail.com.