Arts & Life

Mo Sistas supporting Mo Bros

In what has now become an annual November tradition, guys across the globe are in the throes of growing their mos, changing the face of men’s health one fuzzy upper lip at a time.

The concept of Movember sprouted over a few beers in a Melbourne, Australia pub 10 years ago and has grown to scarily hairy proportions. In 2012, official campaigns are being held in 21 countries, sparking countless conversations about men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer and male mental health, and the importance of educating men about the risks they face.

Men are often reluctant to discuss health issues with their partners, families, friends or doctor, and Movember has always been about encouraging men to be more proactive. Now their female counterparts are getting behind the movement.

The wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters and daughters of Mo Bros have taken on the Mo Sistas moniker, and are boosting the momentum through fundraising initiatives and awareness campaigns.

And no, they don’t have to grow anything! But they are expected to encourage mo growth, no matter how atrocious the outcome.

“Mo Sistas are women that love the mo and actively support Movember,” said Jill Kenney, a spokesperson for Movember Canada. “They are championing their men to go to the doctor, to lead healthier lifestyles and to have conversations about men’s health.”

The Mo Sistas of Edmonton held their first annual Mo Sistas Soiree in 2010, a fundraiser to inspire women to play a supporting role in men’s health. In 2012, over 100 women attended the third annual event and raised just shy of $5,000 for the cause.

This year, the Edmonton group was sanctioned by Movember Canada as an official Mo Sista committee – one of only three in the country (the other two are in Toronto and Montreal).

“This is big news,” said Jackie Whitson, who sits on the committee alongside Jenny Pogue, Amy Bernier, Nicole Tupechka, Teri Hrdlicka and founder Kari Skeleton. “Today we are a committee of six truly dedicated women.”

The soiree is their biggest initiative of the month (and getting larger every year as the word spreads), but the Mo Sistas also attend third party events to encourage others in their fundraising.

“For each one of us, the reason to get involved is different,” said Whitson, whose husband Joell is a firefighter. “Studies have shown that firefighters are up to six times more likely to get job related cancers. I adore my husband and keeping him healthy is of utmost importance. Not to mention my dad and brother.”

The goal for the future is to continue to expand the Mo Sistas movement.

“Every year we meet incredible women who want to get involved,” said Whitson. “We’ve seen incredible growth over the last three years and don’t expect this to stop.”

Kenney said the Mo Sistas of Edmonton “do a fantastic job of getting out into the community and spreading the Movember message.”

For those inspired to get involved, it’s not too late to register for this year at Local ladies can join the Mo Sistas Edmonton team, start a new team, register to be part of a friend’s team, or join as an individual.


Kate Hamilton writes for the Spectator Tribune.

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