Some of our past projects and programs include:
16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (2022)
November is the month when women’s anti-violence advocates engage in campaigns like the 16 Days of Activism (Nov. 25 – Dec. 10) to end gender-based violence.
November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women; December 6th is The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, which commemorates the 14 women killed in 1989 in the Montreal Massacre at L’Ecole Polytechnique, and all the other women, including missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, who have been taken by femicide to date. It is a long list that haunts every women’s advocate.
This year, the NOWC and many other feminist groups across the province will focus on promoting the 86 jury recommendations from the recent Renfrew inquest into the murders of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk, and Nathalie Warmerdam. We will bring some of them forward during the 16 Days of Activism because they directly reflect the work we have been doing for many years and speak to the reality of women who face the risk of gender-based violence (GBV), intimate partner violence (IPV) or femicide.
Why does this advocacy matter?
From the Culleton, Kuzyk & Warmerdam (CKW) Inquest advocacy toolkit (Luke’s Place, October 2022):
Inquest jury recommendations are non-binding, which means the government and other entities to which recommendations are directed have no legal obligation to implement them. To date (October 2022), the provincial government has not responded to the inquest recommendations in any way. While, of course, there may be work going on behind the scenes, the history of femicide inquests in Canada has taught us that governments do not move quickly to provide a meaningful response. Since 2015, the year of the Renfrew County triple homicide, at least 273 women have been killed in acts of femicide.
As the reports of the DVDRC tell us again and again, the vast majority of domestic homicides are both predictable and preventable. Implementation of the 86 recommendations produced by the jury in this most recent inquest would move us well along the right path to significantly reducing the number of women and children killed in this province. We need to provide the leadership to ensure that these recommendations, which have the potential to save many lives, will be implemented.
View our full 16 Days’ campaign as an infographic with clickable resource links: 16 Days Infographic
High Risk Navigation (2019-21)
The High Risk Navigation Project (HRN) Project was 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. Created in partnership with the Thunder Bay and District Coordinating Committee to End Women Abuse, and funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario, the overarching goal of the HRN Project was 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 involved:
- Developing protocol and training for those who respond to women at high risk of harm from gender-based violence
- Coordinating 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
- Presenting 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
- Building working connections, share expertise and provide training and knowledge exchange between women’s anti-violence advocates and legal system players
- Designing 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.
Art of Resistance Conference (2019)
Building upon the Honouring Our Stories (HOS) Project, we held an arts-based conference around the theme of resisting sexual violence the following year. Funded by the Ontario Arts Council and 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. With support and guidance from Elder Brenda Mason, artists, survivors and staff 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 (Canada Research Chair in Sexual Violence, University of Windsor) gave a keynote address explaining the theory behind effective sexual assault prevention
- Hosted the Ghomeshi Effect, a verbatim dance theatre performance about sexual assault to Magnus Theatre in Thunder Bay, where they performed for a sold out audience made up of 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 NOWC 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 others’ experiences and perspectives. Some 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. This two-year community-engaged project was funded by the Ontario Arts Council.
40 Fabulous Feminists and Amazing Activists of Northwestern Ontario (2013-16)
40 Fabulous Feminists and Amazing Activists of Northwestern Ontario is a self-published book that 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 we 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 written 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.
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 House, with support from the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre, funded the program for 2008/09.