Girl GuidesGirl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada (GGC) is a voluntary organization that promotes the emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual well-being of girls and women through values-based programs. Official operations in Canada date from 1910 when the first group, St. Catharines Company, was registered. Membership grew quickly and by 1912 every province had groups that gathered to create the Canadian Girl Guides Association, with Lady Mary Pellatt as Canada's first Chief Commissioner. In 1917, an Act of Parliament approved the Canadian Girl Guides Association's Constitution. Another act of Parliament in 1961 changed the associations' name to Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada.
The branches of the Guiding movement include Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, Rangers, Cadets and Junior Leaders, with groups in most communities in every province and territory, under the leadership of women volunteers and community leaders.
The philosophy of the organization is expressed in the Promise: "I promise to do my best, To be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada; I will take action for a better world, and respect the Guiding Law" (Brownies say "and respect the Brownie law.") The Law and the motto "Be Prepared" reflect the Guiding's aim to help girls and young women become responsible citizens, able to give leadership and service to the community, whether local, national or global.
The program is designed to provide opportunities for girls and women: to develop personal values and respect for self and others; to be challenged through new experiences; to develop a sense of well-being; to achieve a sense of pride in accomplishment; to learn to work co-operatively with others; to learn and practise decision making; to make friends and have fun through the fellowship of Guiding; to acquire practical and leadership skills; to learn about the natural environment and how to preserve it; to develop knowledge and understanding of other countries, their people and cultures; to put into practice the principle of service.
The Guide program is designed for girls. It is diverse and relevant to today's changing society. Women leaders provide role models and bring the program to girls and young women in a community atmosphere with a spirit of fun and friendship. Leadership training is of vital importance to the organization, contributing to the effectiveness of adults functioning as leaders of Units, Councils and Committees, as well as providing personal growth and enrichment.
There are 13 Councils comprising ten provinces and three territories, each of which may be divided into Area, Division and District Councils with the National Council as its governing body. Membership in Guiding is voluntary and open to girls and women who are willing to make the Promise, without distinction of creed, race, class, nationality or any other circumstances. The program provides opportunities in the areas of Home, Community, World, Outdoors and Camping, and is divided into five age groups. Learning about the situations of girls and women throughout the world and what Guiding in Canada can do for them is an important aspect of the girls' programs. Global awareness leads to understanding of the interdependence of peoples throughout the world; appreciation of one's own country, culture and heritage; and acceptance of the cultures and heritages of other people. Some famous women who were Girl Guides include Canada's first woman astronaut, Roberta BONDAR, and actor Andrea MARTIN. Canada is a Charter Member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) which represents more than 10 million girls and women in more than 140 countries. WAGGGS maintains four World Centres (England, Switzerland, India and Mexico). Girl Guides hold a National Conference every two years.