Jenn Deounden sitting at a table talking about female entrepreneurship

I sat down with Mark Melnychuk to voice why Saskatchewan’s women in business need better from us. Just because things have historically been done a certain way doesn’t make it ok anymore. We need better systems and support for female leaders and entrepreneurs – I fought to build my company with an old boys’ club staring me down. I don’t ever want another woman to have to deal with the same outdated crap.


Operation Mrs. Claus was a socially-distant holiday giving initiative

While 2020 has required us to adjust to a completely different way of living our lives, the change hit me as the socially-distant holiday season came around. Last year, I helped rally a group of women leaders in Regina to form the Help Us Help Her committee – a group dedicated to uplifting and supporting at-risk single mothers during the holidays. The HUHH committee organized a traditional Christmas dinner for 400 moms and their kids, complete with activities and gifts, so that these families in need could enjoy the holiday spirit together. Avana was a proud sponsor, and we were so pleased to support our local shelters and community programs.

Effects of the Pandemic on Lower-Income Families

The HUHH committee had great expectations for this year’s dinner, but we had to adapt creatively with a socially-distant holiday initiative instead. Not only has COVID-19 changed the way we interact and socialize, but it has also profoundly affected lower-income families.

Layoffs and decreased wages or hours are just two of the ways lower-income families feel the pinch during the pandemic. Less money means less economic activity and security. It also means much more stress and uncertainty. Demand at food banks is at peak levels – and a staggering 40% of Regina’s Food Bank clients are children. Shelters cannot meet the need for a safe place to stay with thousands of families left unserved in Regina each year.

Developing Operation Mrs. Claus for Socially-Distant Holiday Giving

The need to support our communities is critical now more than ever. Over Zoom calls and FaceTime, the HUHH committee brainstormed how to make a holiday giving initiative socially distant while still providing necessities. And so, Operation Mrs. Claus came to be.

We caught wind of the reality that many kids were without adequate winter clothing for the season ahead and finding all the snowsuits we could was priority number one. Knowing how many kids rely on the food bank, buying hampers of food for them and their families was priority number two. And injecting a little holiday spirit by providing toys was priority number three.

Avana provided a 22-foot enclosed trailer to house the snowsuits, food hampers, and toys for distribution to over 250 kids. The committee tapped its network for donations, vinyl-wrapping the trailer with logos of corporate donors and contributors. And through December, the trailer has been making stops at shelters, schools, and neighbourhoods where deserving kids can safely grab their goodies outdoors.

Continue to Give What You Can

As the holiday season draws to a close, I am grateful for the contributions and support that made Operation Mrs. Claus a success. However, the work to help support those in need is far from over as the pandemic continues to make waves across the country. As winter settles in and people hunker down, please consider continuing to give what you can to support those in need.

To donate, please visit:

Regina Food Bank

YWCA of Regina

The Mosaic Million Meal Challenge supporting the Regina Food, Bank

Food bank use in Regina has increased by 46% throughout the pandemic. As economic pressures increase and winter settles in, families are facing more challenging months ahead. And this is something that leaders in the community have to help out in any way we can.

Joining the Challenge

When the Regina Food Bank told me about the Mosaic Million Meal Challenge, I was proud to have Avana step up to the plate as a corporate donor. It took my breath away to learn that two out of five people served at the food bank are children. As a mother to four young kids, I was at a loss for words when visualizing that 40% of the people going through the food bank’s doors could be the same age as my kids.

So, Avana committed to donating 100,000 meals to the Challenge to help keep Reginans fed through during the holidays by funding Christmas hampers.

A champion and a challenge! @AvanaYQR, one of Canada’s fastest growing companies, has made an incredible donation of 100k meals to the @mosaicincanada Million Meal Challenge. They are rallying the business community to step-up in any way they can.

Posted by Regina & District Food Bank on Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Rally Your People

Not one to shy away from a challenge, I put out the call to action in the Avana network and asked vendors and partners to chip in what they could. The simple act of sharing that Avana had contributed resulted in an additional 25,000 meals donated by our vendors and partners. It’s not about a pat on the back or recognition – I firmly believe we have to push each other to be better, stronger pillars of our communities. That we, as business leaders, can challenge each other to give more, act more, and stand up more.

Getting Through the Tough Times

The pandemic has caused financial strain and challenges for individuals and companies but acknowledging and helping those hit the hardest is how we’ll get through the tough times. Shopping local, donating to your city’s food bank, and checking in on friends and neighbours are all things we can do for the collective good. While we may need to be six feet apart physically, it doesn’t mean that we have to lose the sense of connection to the people around us.

Avana was a 2020 Growth List winner as Canada's tenth fastest-growing company

Avana ranked No. 10 on the Canadian Business and Maclean’s 2020 Growth List of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. The announcement makes Avana the first-ever female-led company from Saskatchewan to rank in the Top 10 – and also makes Avana the highest-ranking Saskatchewan-based company this year.

Avana and YWCA Regina Walk a Mile in her Shoes

Over 50% of Canadian women have experienced abuse or sexual violence.

Saskatchewan reports the highest rate of intimate partner violence in Canada (and double the rate of police reported family violence).

This year, Avana was proud to be a lead sponsor of the YWCA’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes campaign. Our team raised almost $15,000 to help the YWCA to continue to provide shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Learn more about domestic violence in Regina and join the campaign. 


YWCA Regina gifts Avana a commemorative gift

After hearing the news of our top ten placement on the Growth List, our friends at the YWCA made us this beautiful piece to celebrate the occasion. We will forever cherish this art piece and the relationship we continue to build with women and children within the YWCA.

Avana participated in the Mosaic Million Meal Challenge in support of the Regina Food Bank

How would you feel knowing that 40% of food bank clients are children? 

When the Regina Food Bank launched the Mosaic Million Meal Challenge this fall, we had to do our part.

Avana stepped up to contribute 100,000 meals to the campaign and put the challenge out to our local real estate and construction partners to give back. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, access to food is something no Reginan should go without. 

Learn more about the Mosaic Million Meal Challenge.


Jenn Denouden and Regina Mayor Sandra Masters

It was an honour to be on team Sandra Masters for the Regina Mayoral Race. As Regina’s first elected female mayor, Sandra is paving the way for the next generation of females. She has a strong vision, willingness to have tough conversations, and will take action to make progressive change in our city.

Jenn Denouden shares the family-first vision behind Avana's ethos

Family is at the core of Avana’s ethos. And as I explore new and exciting ground at the helm of this incredible company, my minis come along for every step of the journey. #mompreneur

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