Programs & Projects

Family Law/Legal Education Clinic Series

We continue to provide workshops and information sessions addressing a variety of topics related to family law, legal issues and safety in the context of Violence Against Women. Within this legal education program, the Sister Survival Skills series offers workshops on women’s safety concerns, for women only.

Analysis to Action on Gender Based Violence Project 

The Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre has acquired Status of Women Canada Capacity Building Project funding to launch a new project called Analysis to Action on Gender Based Violence (AAGBV). This four-year project aims to enhance the systemic advocacy work being done in the community to improve the status of women and to increase the capacity of our Centre, as well as other Thunder Bay and NWO women’s organizations, to continue promoting social and systemic change towards gender equality.  

The AAGBV project will focus on the following key objectives:  

  • increasing capacity for systemic advocacy on gender-based violence (GBV) 
  • reframing GBV policy reform work using Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression (AR,AO), Gender Based Analysis (GBA), and Trauma-Informed Approach (TIA) frameworks and Reconciliation Principles (RP) 
  • creating accountability measures to develop public awareness and analysis of local jurisprudence 
  • building capacity of NOWC and local women’s advocates to act as experts and/or trainers on AR/AO/GBA/TIA and gender-based violence 

Through partnerships with local women’s organizations and advocates, we aim to develop a collaborative advocacy strategy on gender-based violence that is informed by anti-racism, anti-oppression, trauma-informed, and gender-based analysis frameworks; this advocacy strategy includes connecting with broader campaigns and efforts, the creation of an online platform and communication network, the analysis of legal system outcomes through this network, and the establishment of an annual “Think Tank” for local women’s advocates. Another facet of this project is to assess need of training for the target frameworks (AR, AO GBA, TIA, RP) and provide this training for local women’s organization and advocates – situating them to act as expert witnesses and deliver AR/AO/GBA/TIA training for system players. 

The key activities of the AAGBV project will include:  

  • Working with local equality seeking women’s organizations and advocates to assess need of training for the target frameworks (AR, AO GBA, TIA, RP) 
  • Survey women’s group and individual women to assess the forms of gendered violence; survey communities experiencing gender-based violence and the existing system response to GBV that require systemic action 
  • Assessing local criminal court decisions on GBV cases and developing a feminist analysis of the outcomes 
  • Develop an online connecting hub that links issues, analysis, and action that builds and shares a gendered analysis toward systemic change with other women’s organizations 
  • Hosting an annual “Think Tank” for local women and women’s organizations to learn and talk about current policy issues 

For those interested in partnering of this project or for more information, please contact Steph Simko at gbvproject@nwowc.org. We will follow up with a short survey, developed to determine how organizations are engaging with gendered violence at a local level, what gaps are present in other GBV response systems, and the need for training in the project’s target frameworks.  

High Risk Navigation

A woman is killed every two days in Canada and one is murdered by her intimate partner every six days. Rates of gender based violence in Thunder Bay are amongst the highest in Canada, and we also face a legacy and present reality of many murdered and missing Indigenous women due to our colonial practices.  Gang violence and related human trafficking  activity is increasing here as well. 

By routinely releasing perpetrators who have committed serious assault, the courts are sending a clear message to men who use violence and to the general public: those who perpetrate gender-based violence can do so with impunity.  Many women are living in fear; child welfare agencies find themselves apprehending children from non-offending mothers simply because no one can control the risk posed by the abusive partners or ex-partners. 

 Unfortunately, the focus on criminality in the legal system tends to overlook safety considerations for women.  The existing MAG High Risk committee is by invitation only; is administered only by Crown’s Office and uses it’s own adapted risk assessment. As a result, it has limited communication with other sectors, including those who bring cases forward to them.   Many women, especially Indigenous women, now do not call police in cases of GBV; many perpetrators manage to avoid criminal involvement.  For this reason, many high risk cases are never brought to the attention of the Crown’s committee, and only come to light through child welfare involvement, at social service tables such as the Child Welfare / VAW Leads Collaborative.   

In addition to these structural problems, we also face some attitudinal barriers.  The general public needs to be exposed to a new narrative that values the lives and well being of women and children, especially those who are Indigenous.  Legal and social service providers need to integrate an understanding of the impacts of colonialism, gender based violence and trauma. Trusted Intermediaries need to be seen as integral supports to the administration of justice. 

We need to address these problems at multiple levels – public education; professional training based on new research; intensive coordination across sectors in risk management and safety planning; and an investment in and recognition of the central role women’s advocates play in maintaining women’s safety and access to justice. 

The High Risk Navigation project is funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario and operates in partnership with the Thunder Bay District Coordinating Committee to End Woman Abuse. It aims to support women, their children, and others who are at high risk of gender based violence, through the development of a cross-sectoral advocacy protocol. The project builds working connections and shares expertise, while providing training and knowledge exchange between women’s anti-violence advocates and legal system players. This includes consulting and gathering valuable knowledge from an advisory committee of women’s anti-violence advocates. Please contact Mehdia Hassan for more information. (807) 345-7802 or hrnproject@nwowc.org

Thunder Bay Good Food Box

PLEASE SEE UP-TO-DATE NEWS AND INFORMATION FOR GOOD FOOD BOX on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Good-Food-Box-Thunder-Bay-465037656859592/

The Good Food Box Program had to cancel regular operations due to the pandemic. In response, the Women’s Centre has partnered with other local/regional food security programs to provide a REGIONAL FIRST NATIONS EMERGENCY GOOD FOOD BOX and an EMERGENCY GOOD FOOD BOX FOR SENIORS. Details can be found here

The Good Food Box is a non-profit program for families and individuals who want to purchase quality, fresh, local produce at a lower price than shopping at grocery stores. Family sized food boxes are $25, while individual boxes are $15. Participants pay for the Good Food Box on the first Thursday of each month at a neighbourhood host site. The boxes are dropped off at the host site on the second last Thursday of each month. For more information about the program or host site locations please call (807) 345-7819, or email goodfoodbox@tbaytel.net.

Buying a Good Food Box gives you a low cost way to get fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to your neighbourhood or building. Produce is ordered from a local grocery store, and includes seasonal locally grown fruit and veggies. It is also a great way to get connected and involved in your community. Those interested in volunteering with the program are encouraged to contact the GFB co-ordinator at (807) 345-7819. Volunteers help sort and pack produce, coordinate host sites, help deliver to neighbourhood sites and contribute recipes and cooking tips to the newsletter. We rely on public funding and donations to support the program. Those who would like to make a donation to the program are welcome to do so. For more information on donations please visit Donate.

Thunder Bay Women’s Court Watch Program

Thunder Bay Women’s Court Watch Program is a joint initiative between Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre and Faye Peterson Transition House, launched in 2007. Court Watch programs are a form of community oversight where trained volunteers systematically monitor the treatment of criminal court cases related to woman abuse. Quantitative and qualitative data is 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 is collated and published annually 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 Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre funded the program for 2008/09, since we were unable to secure funding from outside sources. Our report, and volunteer application forms are available on the Faye Peterson website: www.fayepeterson.org