It has been four years since The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda officially partnered with BRAVE Global Canada to reach out to vulnerable, at-risk girls with a message of empowerment, to help prevent exploitation and trafficking.

We have seen thousands of girls attend BRAVE events and forge new connections with volunteers and peers. They have come to listen to different keynote speakers share on topics such as education, confidence, race, relationships and more. They have enjoyed candle and soapmaking workshops, learned self-defence skills and shopped the afternoon away at pop-up thrift stores set up in local ministry units.

These events are designed to inspire girls and communicate a message of dignity, worth and purpose. Guest speakers who have also faced and overcome adversity demonstrate that whatever their circumstances, there is hope.

But BRAVE goes beyond these one-day events to build ongoing relationships with those who attend. The territorial women’s ministries team spent some time in the last year engaging with leaders and volunteers to find out how, and we were blown away by what we heard. Here are four stories that show the impact BRAVE is having:

Getting Started in Kamloops, B.C.

Lisl Barnes and Jillian Penney at a BRAVE event in Kamloops, B.C.
From left, Lisl Barnes and Jillian Penney
at a BRAVE event in Kamloops, B.C.
(Photo: Sarah Moores-Bent)

In 2020, Lisl Barnes, administration and events co-ordinator at Kamloops Community Church, B.C., and her team were one of the first ministry units to host a BRAVE event. “Our biggest challenge was as a result of COVID. We had to limit the number of girls attending, as well as volunteers,” she recalls. “The girls who attended in the first year came from our local community as well as the surrounding area. Many of the girls who came the next year had attended in 2020, but each year we manage to reach a wider group.”

Since then, they have hosted BRAVE events each year, and started BRAVE Circles, small group mentoring sessions. BRAVE Circles are where the initial connections made at an event go deeper, and where girls can become more integrated and connected with the local church— regardless of their existing faith background.

“We have a consistent group of girls who regularly attend our events, monthly BRAVE Circles, regional youth gatherings and even go to camp as often as they can,” says Barnes. “These girls have made real connections with each other as well as our leaders, and we are blessed to be walking through life with them.”

Building a Team in Moncton, N.B.

Mjr Darlene Anderson, with the BRAVE team at Moncton Citadel CC, N.B.
“God can take what we consider to be small
and make a huge impact,” says Mjr Darlene Anderson,
with the BRAVE team at Moncton Citadel CC, N.B.
(Photo: Courtesy of Natasha Burkett)

The same year, Major Darlene Anderson and her team at Moncton Citadel Community Church, N.B., overcame similar COVID-related issues. “In my experience of startup, COVID was a huge barrier,” she says. “However, we were determined to do something to encourage and empower these young girls, who we knew were more lonely, isolated and at-risk than ever.”

COVID gave them an opportunity to grow closer and stronger as a team. “Our new team met virtually and planned two different options for our first BRAVE endeavour: gathering at the church for the event, or curbside if COVID prevailed. It’s always helpful to have a plan A and plan B,” she explains. “COVID held its grip, so we decided to do plan B, a curbside visit approach. Five teams of two prepared to ‘meet and greet’ the girls.”

This was a significant group effort. Her teams reported that they were thrilled and inspired to make even a small difference in the lives of these girls. Looking ahead, Major Anderson says, “God can take what we consider to be small and make a huge impact. He did exactly that as we made family connections and laid the groundwork for future ‘in house’ events. The families greatly appreciated our creative and meaningful visits.”

Fostering Relationships and Mentoring in Toronto

Girls sitting in a circle on the floor at Woven in Toronto
Mentors build relationships with the girls
who attend Woven in Toronto
(Photo: Courtesy of Mikhaila Tao)

One inspiring example of relationshipbuilding comes from Toronto’s North York Temple, where Mikhaila Tao leads Woven, a program for girls in Grades 7 to 12. Tao made connections with girls through community and family services, inviting them to a BRAVE event.

The beginning of the program, which is supported by an innovation grant, was marked by prayer and trial and error. “As soon as I felt like I was hitting a wall (and there have been many walls!), the Lord has provided some sort of conversation, a connection or a resource that encourages me and directs me to the next right step to take,” she says.

For Tao, putting together a small team of dedicated women to walk alongside the girls as program mentors was crucial for their success. Tao emphasizes how important consistently showing up for these girls was.

“We were very intentional in building positive relationships with the girls who would come to Woven, walking alongside them, showing up for them and making Woven a safe space where they knew they could come and be seen, heard, encouraged and have fun,” she says. Tao points to the Holy Spirit’s guidance as well as those intentional relationships as the most important pieces of Woven’s success.

Tao and her team have faithfully walked with the girls in her group over the past few years, meeting every week. Consistency is key in the lives of these young women—as it is for most of us.

“I feel very blessed, because youth workers oftentimes don’t get to see the fruit of their hard work and seed-sowing, but I really have witnessed an enormous amount of fruit through Woven,” she says. “I’ve seen many girls walk through our doors who were defensive, carrying heavy weights on their shoulders and closed off to others, who are now blooming, supported in community and who know they are deeply cared for by their program mentors and by God.”

She shared the following anecdote about one of their girls: “Last summer we had one girl who was hired as a camp counsellor for our summer camp, and five others who volunteered their time all summer to help at our kids’ camp. All of these girls grew so much in their confidence and abilities as leaders over the summer. Through discussions at Woven, girls are being introduced to Jesus and his love for them.”

Tao shared that the girls have been told repeatedly through Woven that their lives are incredibly valuable, and that there is hope and endless possibilities for their future. The group also emphasizes that God is with them always.

A number of these girls have made a commitment to Christ as a result of Woven. They have formed deep friendships, learned about the risks of human trafficking and developed a more robust confidence in themselves. Tao says, “God is so faithful to move and work when we step out, and being on the front lines to witness it is an honour and a privilege.”

Making an Impact in Abbotsford, B.C.

Even for the ministry units still working to grow their events and reach marginalized girls, there is a profound sense of purpose to this work.

“Our hope for the future of BRAVE Abbotsford is to reach teen girls who feel unseen, unworthy or unlovable and show them that they are incredibly worthy and capable of doing wonderful things in their futures,” says Laura Wieler, community ministries worker at Abbotsford’s Cascade Community Church, B.C. “We hope that each young woman who gathers with us would know that they are supported by people who care for them and want to see them flourish. This is our hope for the future of Abbotsford youth.”

Investing in Hope

Photo of young woman who attends Woven
BRAVE events are designed to inspire girls and
communicate a message of dignity, worth and purpose;
BRAVE Circles are where the initial connections made
at an event go deeper (Photo: Courtesy of Mikhaila Tao)

This is the hope we all share for girls attending BRAVE events and followup gatherings such as BRAVE Circles. If you are feeling tired or uncertain of the impact your work is having, consider the above testimonies.

A final story comes from a young mom of four girls, who heard about BRAVE from a poster at the shelter she was staying at as she left an abusive relationship. She attended a BRAVE event with her two teenage daughters and two younger daughters in tow. At the breakfast served at the beginning of the day, she sat with a local leader and shared her story, and how desperate she’d been for help. In the weeks and months after that event, she continued attending that church and her girls joined the youth group. She shared how needed the support of that church was for her and her girls at that time.

BRAVE events continue to make an impact and inspire girls and families across Canada and Bermuda. They are important efforts, ones we must continue to invest in and celebrate.

To learn more about BRAVE, visit

Rebekah McNeilly is the media and resource specialist for women’s ministries in the Canada and Bermuda Territory.

This story is from:


On Sunday, March 10, 2024, Arlene Holland said:

Loving our Brave events here at Salvation Army Connection Point Church in Langford, Victoria B.C.

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