Some of the past projects and programs run by the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre include:
40 Fabulous Feminists and Amazing Activists of Northwestern Ontario (2013-16)
40 Fabulous Feminists and Amazing Activists of Northwestern Ontario started as an initiative for the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre’s 40th anniversary, celebrated in 2013. Locals were asked to nominate their favourite feminists and female activists, which NWOWC then shortlisted and researched to produce a collection of 40 profiles. NWOWC Executive Director, Gwen O’Reilly, noted at the launch in March 2016, “All the women profiled are inspirational, and the book will show readers just how influential they’ve been in the community. If you have any preconceptions about feminism or women’s activism, they will be shattered, because the breadth of the work that women do is very clear. They work not just for women but for their communities.” Researched and wrote by PhebeAnne Wolframe, 40 Fabulous Feminists and Amazing Activists of Northwestern Ontario is dedicated to one of the 40 women, Margaret Phillips, who ran the Northern Woman’s Bookstore — the last feminist bookstore in Canada — until she passed away in 2015. Please email [email protected] for more information.
Art of Resistance Conference (2019)
Springing from its 2018 Honouring Our Stories Project, the NWOWC held an art-based conference around the theme of resisting sexual violence the following year. Held January 18-20, 2019, the Conference introduced concepts of healing from and resistance to violence through art, movement and storytelling workshops, and provided analysis and training on sexual assault prevention. Artists, elders, and survivors involved in the Honouring our Stories Project worked together to design the core programming for the conference, which included:
- Women survivors from the HOS Project co-facilitated a new series of one-photo digital storytelling workshops with conference participants, with digital story artists Community Story Strategies
- Screened the HOS digital stories and held a panel discussion with HOS participants and artists
- Dr. Charlene Senn from the University of Windsor gave a keynote address explaining the theory behind effective sexual assault prevention
- Bringing the Ghomeshi Effect, a verbatim dance theatre performance about sexual assault to Magnus Theatre in Thunder Bay, where they played to a sold out audience, including conference participants and the general public.
Honouring Our Stories Project (2016-18)
The intention of Honouring Our Stories Project was to address sexual violence and harassment against women through arts-based activities. The NWOWC partnered with the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and Thunder Bay Police to focus on the dignity of women who have survived sexual violence, and brought their stories to the police, through art and digital storytelling workshops. Police officers also told their stories in a parallel series of workshops. This process is created a mutually constructive dialogue between women survivors, police and the public. The completed digital stories by participants established the opportunity for dialogue by seeing and hearing each other’s’ experiences and perspective. Some example of key conversations that took place include: exploring how trauma affects and connects survivors and participants; recognizing the gaps in the system to holding perpetrators to account; different forms of coping and healing; what responses survivors experienced after disclosure; and associations and public perceptions of survivors and victims.
The Honouring Our Stories Project culminated in the Spring of 2018 with a formal exhibit of digital stories and artwork by women survivors and police officers at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, including an Artists’ Talk.
Thunder Bay Women’s Court Watch Program (2007-09)
Thunder Bay Women’s Court Watch Program was a joint initiative between the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre and Faye Peterson Transition House, launched in 2007. Court Watch programs were a form of community oversight where trained volunteers systematically monitored the treatment of criminal court cases related to woman abuse. Quantitative and qualitative data was used to assess the consistency and adequacy of sentencing, provision of safety for women, adherence to domestic violence policy and attitudes of court personnel, among other concerns. The data was collated and published in order to provide the public and professionals with a snapshot of the effectiveness of the criminal justice system’s response to woman abuse. Faye Peterson Transition House, with support from the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre, funded the program for 2008/09.
The High Risk Navigation Project (HRN) Project is tasked with the development of a dedicated, advocacy-based and common protocol across legal and social service systems to respond to cases of gender-based violence where there is high risk of harm. The overarching goal of the HRN Project is to develop a more coordinated and effective social system response for those who experience gender-based violence in the Thunder Bay district.
The HRN Project aims to:
- Develop protocol and training for those who respond to women at high risk of harm from gender-based violence
- Coordinate formal training by recognized experts for legal and service system personnel including core concepts of anti-racism and anti-oppression, as well as the impacts of colonization, intersectionality, cultural safety and gender-based analysis
- Present the latest research on gender-based violence theory and practice which includes the use of minimizing/mutualizing language, perpetrator pattern approaches, coercive control and trauma informed approaches
- Build working connections, share expertise and provide training and knowledge exchange between women’s anti-violence advocates and legal system players
- Design a process that puts women who experience gender-based violence at the centre of the systemic response using dedicated advocacy position(s) through trusted intermediaries. This community-based advocate, or “High Risk Navigator” would work with women across legal and social sectors to ensure they have appropriate support, referrals and ongoing, effective safety planning that is trauma informed, uses anti-oppression and anti-racism frameworks and recognizes the impacts of colonialism.