Our View

YWCA

Think Big! Lead Now!: Recapping a weekend in Ontario

Bookmark and Share
This entry was posted on by .

“’No’ is a complete sentence.”

“Your daughter is going to face violence if she shows who she is.”

“Who you are makes a difference, all you need to do is show up.”

These are some of the powerful words that YWCA Canada Think Big! Lead Now! Delegates heard over their three-day leadership conference in the beautiful town of Muskoka, ON. Travelling an hour and a half north of Toronto to a beautiful lakeside community, more than 140 delegates from across Canada gathered to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of women and learn what leadership means to them. YW Calgary was thrilled to have three team members accepted as delegates from two different department areas: marketing and communications along with shelter and housing.

Before a 7 a.m. flight, all of the delegates were bleary eyed, excited but not knowing what to expect. We were excited to go east but had no idea what to expect. One of the YW attendees talked about going into “this conference with little expectations” because her experience was that trainings are often filled with basic information that minimally impact her work. Another delegate talked about simply being excited to “meet other young women from around the country who have similar interests”. Seemingly, the theme among us was nervous anticipation before we touched down in Toronto.

The summit itself ran like a well-oiled machine filled with a level of expertise from the speakers that resonated with each young woman in similar, yet different ways. We found inspiration in the powerful, poetic words from Zoey Roy; some of us found a connection with women leaders spearheading projects in their communities. A project that stood one of us was a “letters for survivor’s project”. The project asked people to write anonymous letters to survivors of sexual assault and post them in public spaces for people to read. The letters hope to provide support for survivors who may not have had support when they needed it most.

There was also much conversation about the way the world makes women compete with one another and brings out each and every one of our insecurities. We are told and taught to feel insecure and hate the powerful, accomplished and intelligent women who stand next to us. We are programmed to rank and compete instead of embracing and befriending these other women. One of the most powerful lessons I took from the conference was “I don’t shine if you don’t shine” in our relationships with other women. Let’s celebrate each other’s accomplishments and lift each other up.

While the conference was marketed about building leadership, the most inspiring acts of leadership came from young women who used their voices in ways they may not have before. From sharing hilarious stories self-grooming gone wrong, to powerful feminist manifestos and letters of self-love, the young women embodied being brave, bold and inspiring women.

If you have a daughter, a sister, a friend, a cousin or a woman in your life that would be interested in learning more about leadership, share Think Big! Lead Now! With them. They will learn what it means to be a leader their way while hanging out with some of Canada’s future leaders.

The future is female.

IMG_2060

More >

C7EsUwJV4AAPvCG

Working to Make Life Better: Budget 2017

Bookmark and Share
This entry was posted on by .

Brace yourself, we’re about to talk budgets.

In case you had accidentally stuck your head in the sand to avoid hearing about the ‘out of control spending’ or the ‘soaring debt’ some media outlets reported, Budget 2017 dropped yesterday. Most criticism coming from individuals, think-tanks and other interested parties in Alberta tends to focus on balanced budgets, the bottom line and short term thinking instead of long term success and support of those who need it most.

“Working to Make Life Better” is being positioned as a shock absorber budget: focused on maintaining public services and investing in infrastructure. Budget 2017 arrives as Alberta enters Year 3 of this economic downtown which has greatly impacted individuals, families, government and nonprofits, including YW Calgary.

A “no surprises” document, Budget 2017 maintained funding support for social services which aid some of Alberta’s most vulnerable. Women fleeing abuse and homelessness rely on shelters, counselling programs and parenting supports offered by the YW and our partners to start moving forward in their lives.

We are relieved government has upheld its commitment to supporting Albertan’s access to these vital social and living supports.

And while “holding the line” is critical (and praiseworthy) we’ll continue to advocate with our funders and donors for the resources necessary to support women in need more intensively, with the right help at the right time. The needs of vulnerable people are great. We’ll also continue to remind our Government partners where their funding commitments fall short of the true cost of providing such help.

The rightly celebrated Alberta Child Benefit also stuck in this budget and is of direct benefit to many mothers and families we work with providing up to $2,785 annually per household and support nearly 200,000 children.

But children aren’t poor alone so we’ll keep up our lobbying for increases to government benefits such as Income Support. Budget 2017 marks five straight years where the monthly benefit available to individuals who are temporarily not working or unable to work has been stuck at $627. Think of the costs for basic needs which have changed since 2012 and how far $600 bucks could go. It’s woefully inadequate and results in people – more than 50,000 in January – being trapped in indignity.

Nothing has changed, the day after the budget, for women and families who need temporary support from their neighbours (that’s us, fellow Albertans) and our leaders. People who are poor matter and this budget could not (and did not) turn its back on their needs.

More >

YW Celebrate NetComm email banner 2017

100 Years of International Women’s Day

Bookmark and Share
This entry was posted on by .

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made… It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

#BeBoldforChange. Being bold is not new to the many women and men who work at YW Calgary, but bold was the theme from YW’s 4th annual International Women’s Day event, CELEBRATE. Being bold and being outspoken is easy when you know that in Calgary women make 68 per cent less than men in similar roles, when we know that Calgary has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Canada, when we know that women only make up 26 per cent of leadership positions in the House of Commons and when we know that women disproportionately face threats of violence and harassment online. Despite the many accomplishments and strides women have made in the last 100 years, there continues to be a need for loud and bold voices ready to challenge the norm.

At YW’s CELEBRATE, being bold was also a common theme throughout, with many YW team members showing solidarity for A Day without Woman by wearing the colour red. CELEBRATE saw women and men from across Calgary, Alberta and Canada join YW at The Bow to honour the many inspiring women in our lives, the work that has been done and acknowledge the work ahead.

The formal part of the event demonstrated the fearless leadership YW has at its helm through Rebecca Morley’s, YW board chair, introduction of Her Honour Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell as a bold advocate of change. Her Honour, then took time to talk about the women who have inspired her to be bold in her life. Her Honour spoke about her aunt who never had much money, but would always give as much as she could to support those in need. Her Honour spoke about the importance of giving as much as possible whether it’s time, money or vocal support and its ability to truly affect change. The formal portion of the event ended with YW CEO Sue Tomney challenging the crowd of supporters to be unafraid in using their voices to challenge the status quo.

Today, tomorrow and the day after that, we remain steadfast in our mission to support women thriving in safe and equitable communities where they have choices, are economically secure and free from violence. It is easy to be discouraged when turning on the news, or listening to the radio, or browsing social media and bearing witness to the vitriol and hate that continues to target women. It is easy to be discouraged, but resist and continue to resist. When we stand together, use our voices loudly to advocate for change and challenge the status quo, we can affect change. Every day we choose to lift the most vulnerable populations up, we resist. Every time we click with compassion, we resist. Each time we choose to support an organization with time or money, we resist.

We want to thank our supporters for their time, energy and boldness in attending CELEBRATE. We also want to thank Hillberg & Berk, Blink Restaurant, RnR Wellness, Azuridge Estate Hotel, Highlander Wine and Spirits and for their amazing donation to our raffle prize. We want to thank Neil Zeller Photography for the brilliant photos capturing the evening reception and Downtown Glam (aks Traci Zeller) for the wonderful International Women’s Day YW bracelets. Thank you to the many volunteers who helped the event run smoothly. Finally, thank you to Encana Corporation for donating their beautiful space and their support throughout the evening. We could not have done this without the generous support we received.

More >

banner_standard1c

The 4-1-1 on Family Access Services: Featuring Stacey Ashton

Bookmark and Share
This entry was posted on by .

Safe visitation is something that you don’t often know about until you need to know. Visitation and monitored-exchanges occur when there are concerns for a child’s safety, or well-being to ensure that a child can maintain contact with a parent in a safe environment. Visitation offers support to families who have been exposed to family violence or are struggling with volatile custody situations. YW Calgary, through our Family Access Services provides an opportunity for children to visit with the non-custodial parent in a safe and secure environment. We wanted to get to the meat of what visitation is, what Family Access Services does and why it’s a critical service to Calgarians, we spoke with Stacey Ashton who is the supervisor of Family Access Services and Child Support Programs.

  1. For those who don’t know, what is Family Access Services?

We recently changed the name of our Visitation Services program to Family Access Services to better reflect the services we provide.  Family Access Services provides supervised visitation to families.  Supervised visitation is contact between a parent and child that takes place in the presence of a qualified staff member who is responsible for ensuring the safety of all involved.  The service also offers monitored exchange in which staff will supervise the exchange of the child for unsupervised access visits in situations where there is conflict that might arise during the exchange.

  1. Why is it important to families in Calgary?

Services like Family Access allow children and non-custodial parents to maintain contact with each other throughout difficult family transitions.  Children deserve to have a relationship with both parents, and Family Access Services encourages this relationship by offering a safe, neutral and healthy environment for relationship building without the risk of conflict.   During times of family, transition finances can be an issue and as such program fees are determined on a sliding scale.  Fees will never be a barrier to receiving services with Family Access Services.

  1. What are the benefits of the program?

All family members will find safety, support and enjoy reduced stress and anxiety. Non-custodial parents and their children will have the opportunity to foster healthy relationships and parents do not have to have contact with one another to meet the requirements for visitation or exchange.

  1. Can you describe a little bit about what happens during a visit?

Visits are supervised by trained staff whose purpose is to facilitate a safe and positive visit between parent and child.  Staff will connect with parents to build on parenting skills and provide information and support before the visits.  Our visits are centered around building relationships through play. During a typical visit, parents and their children may play board games, participate in active play such as dress up and puppet shows, create crafts with the multitude of craft supplies available or just sit together, snuggle and read.

  1. What do you believe is the most common misconception?

One of the common misconceptions is that clients must be court ordered to utilize our services. However, we are a voluntary service meaning that as long as both parties are in agreement, they can use our services.  We also hear misconceptions about the length of our wait list.  While we do often have a wait list for our program the length of time on the list is conditional on factors such as how soon both parents contact the program to register, if there is space in the program and the schedule required.  While we cannot estimate an exact wait time due to these factors, we encourage parents on our wait list to contact us periodically to check on their status.

  1. What would you like to tell Calgarians about family access?

Family Access Services is a vital service that provides support to families during difficult family transitions.  Needing supervised visitation or monitored exchange services should not be viewed as a negative thing, rather a positive intervention required to ensure the safety of all family members while family conflict or other safety issues are ongoing.

We have attached resources if you’re interested in learning more about the Family Access Services program, click here. For more information about Family Access Monitored Exchange, click here

To contact the YW Family Access Services program, please call 403-206-2767.

More >

We believe survivors

We Believe You: Sexual Assault and the Justice System

Bookmark and Share
This entry was posted on by .

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, it’s pretty likely that a woman in Canada will be sexually assaulted and never tell police. In fact, about 460,000 women in Canada will be assaulted this year.

That figure only speaks to the number of reported sexual assaults, we know and research shows that up to 97 per cent of assaults are never reported to police. In fact, many survivors never even tell a friend of a family member. Even if a survivor reports the assault, police dismiss one in five sexual assault claims as baseless. The unfounded or baselessness of your case, often means that law enforcement simply doesn’t believe you. It can be the result of poor training, dated interviewing techniques, but it is arguably in part due to the rape culture that continues to persist. A culture that makes sexual assault and abuse normal and trivializes the experiences of survivors.

In certain scenarios, the police may not believe you, there may be judges with no criminal justice experience overseeing your case or you’ll have lawyers question your ability to recall specific events from a traumatic experience. Often this is referred to as re-victimization, where women are not believed, blamed, made to feel responsible for the assault, or subjected to callous or insensitive treatment.

However, this week, a private members bill was introduced to legislate mandatory training in sexual assault law for lawyers applying for a federally appointed judicial position. The proposed bill, Judicial Accountability through Sexual Assault Law Training Act (JUST Act) looks to require mandatory training for new judges and require the Canadian Judiciary Council to provide annual reports that detail the types of sexual assault training provided. We at YW are thrilled to see legislation that works to create a safer experience for survivors to come forward.

It’s no wonder that sexual assault survivors have lost faith in the system and lost faith in coming forward. We need to ensure our justice system, at all levels, understand the experience of survivors at every step of their journey. Last year was filled with news stories about the handling of sexual assault cases from Jian Ghomeshi, Justice Robin Camp and his questions to a survivor on why she didn’t “keep her knees together” and the more than 60 women coming forward with sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, and we need to create a system where survivors are believed.

Believing survivors is the mission of the #IBelieveYou campaign, which works to show survivors that they are not alone and that we believe them. The campaign reported that research indicated 83 per cent of Albertans would personally start by believing a survivor. This is critical because when survivors feel safe to tell their story, they’re more likely to get help and seek justice. It makes our communities healthier and safer for everyone. YW will continue to speak up and out for and with women to ensure we all live in safe and equitable communities free from violence against women.

More >

WEB-2016-Banners-1140x415_ADVOCACY

Change for the Sake of Change?

Bookmark and Share
This entry was posted on by .

To read our letter to the Office of the Ethics Commissioner, click here. To read the call to action from the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organization’s, click here.


This week, a reminder that sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone and to avoid making change for the sake of making change. The recommended changes to the Alberta Lobbyists Act from the Office of the Ethics Commissioner are just such an example. Before you close your window because the idea of reading about policy makes you want to take a long nap, let us explain.

Lobbying is communicating with government officials to explain specific interests and positions on issues to affect public policy or government decision making. At YW Calgary, we believe we have an obligation to speak up and speak out for the women with whom we work – as well as those women we hope never to meet – to affect long-term change through strong policy development.

The Alberta Lobbyists Act was first proposed in 2007 as a way of ensuring organizations who are lobbying do so in a way that is clear and responsible. The Act is intended to increase Albertan’s confidence that government is acting with integrity in their decisions.

In 2007, non-profit organizations in Alberta brought forward serious concerns about how they would be affected. The concerns led to organizations who work for general “public benefit” being exempted from the Act. This exemption recognized the fundamental difference between lobbying for policy change aimed for public benefits – like ending homelessness – and lobbying for a commercial interest. This allowed organizations like YW Calgary to continue to develop collaborative relationships with government officials to meaningfully work to the benefit of vulnerable populations.

In 2016, the Office of the Ethics Commissioner began the process of reviewing the Lobbyists Act. After asking non-profits and other interested parties to provide input, the Commissioner recommended a number of changes including that non-profit organizations (as well as charities with five or more employees) who chose to participate in public policy advocacy activities be required to register as lobbyists. This would have a devastating impact on non-profits ability to advocate for those who struggle to speak up and speak out.

These recommended changes come after input from YW Calgary, Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organization’s (CCVO), Volunteer Alberta and the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (to name a few) specifically advised against such action. The recommendations are deeply concerning and will fundamentally change non-profits relationships with public officials. When all communication outside of a written request from government is considered lobbying, it handcuffs non-profits ability to affect change at a policy level.

As well, requiring public benefit non-profits to register as lobbyists adds a completely unnecessary layer of administrative legwork from the required tracking information: quite simply creating overhead.

For example, we would be required to report any meetings with government officials within 30 days of the meeting occurring and to release plans related to intended lobbying months in advance. Such requirements – combined with the murky manner by which public policy conversations actually materialize – often adjunct to an MLA tour or a contract review meeting with a government funder – are unrealistic.

These requirements are on top of providing critical service supports – like shelter for women fleeing abuse – and the reporting required related to such contracted service provision. If the recommendations are adopted, we predict there would be a harmful chilling of advocacy work across the sector.

Boards of Directors may fear being in violation of the Act and face a minimum $25,000 first fine. Ultimately, this impacts our clients, our ability to move the needle on issues like poverty, homelessness and ending violence against women.

YW Calgary is fervently against these proposed changes. Our partners and collaborators at Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organization’s issued a call to action for all non-profits in Alberta to write their MLA, the Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Resource Stewardship (MLA Rod Loyola) and urge them to keep the current exemption for public benefit nonprofits. Click here to read more on why we are opposed to these changes.

More >

candy-hearts

Valentine’s Day & Taking Care of You

Bookmark and Share
This entry was posted on by .

The pink hearts are littered across the grocery stores, the roses are red as ever and every billboard, magazine and commercial you hear is celebrating ‘your love’ through four low payments of $59.99. It’s clearly Valentine’s Day and whether you’re coupled up or spending the day solo, it’s time to take a check on your mental health and practice some self-care on the world’s most ‘romantic’ day.

Valentine’s Day can bring up negative feelings both financially and personally regardless of whether you’re single or coupled up. For those in relationships, there is a constant pressure to link the amount of money spent on Valentine’s Day as proof of how much you care. Social media feeds into the love day frenzy with posts from friends and family showing off the romantic gestures from their significant others. V-Day almost becomes a competition with social media based on the number of likes and comments a post receives. Even for couples who are unhappy, Valentine’s Day can serve as a Band-Aid solution full of chocolates and roses as a way to avoid their underlying relationship issue.

Valentine’s Day can be extremely depressing for single women leaving them with a pressure to couple up and find ‘the one’. Often this leaves them feeling even more isolated. For those that are unattached, Valentine’s Day often serves as a reminder that they are alone. You see all your friends posting about their love and everyone at work seems to get roses and chocolates from their partners, it can be isolating. Those who are single have coined it ‘Singles Awareness Day’ (S.A.D.) and even the name reflects what many are feeling. It can lead to questionable choices like inviting that not-so-good-for-you ex out to dinner, or a frantic search for a date on the day to avoid feeling alone.

While this Hallmark holiday may seem unavoidable, instead of feeling alone or unappreciated this Valentine’s Day take some time for you. Regardless of whether you’re coupled up or flying solo, we all deserve some extra love. YW’s counselling manager, Shelly Qualtieri, provided five tips to stay positive over Valentine’s Day:

  1. Get active – go for a walk or run, hit the gym, pool or yoga studio
  2. Spend time with those that you love – this does not have to be a partner- it can be a friend, family member, peer, or pet!
  3. Spend a few moments marvelling at the benefits of being single and spending time with amazing you
  4. Give to someone else – a random act of kindness always feels good
  5. Treat yourself, we all deserve it

Taking care of yourself is so important especially during times of stress or when you’re feeling overwhelmed as some may be on Valentine’s Day. Self-care is one of the best ways we can maintain our physical, mental and emotional health which enables us to be the best versions of ourselves. Next time you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or needing a little ‘me time’ keep these tips in mind and remember that we all need a break sometimes.

More >

Logo-ACALLTOMEN

Engaging Men and Boys

Bookmark and Share
This entry was posted on by .

Ending violence against girls and women is everyone’s issue. From supporting the women who escape abuse, providing refuge for those needing a safe place to advocating for a community where women can live free of violence, we all have a role to play. A critical role that is not frequently discussed is the role that men and boys play in ending violence against women. Men and boys are an important ally and partner in speaking up and speaking out against gender-based violence and the need to engage with them is more pressing than ever.

As a proud partner and member of the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective (CDVC), we work collaboratively with close to 60 community partners that provide a coordinated response to domestic and sexual violence prevention and intervention. This week the CDVC published an important and informative series of video blogs (vlogs) uncovering what role men play in ending violence against women. The vlog provides a unique and thoughtful perspective from Tristan Abbott of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre who explains what engaging men and boys means, his own journey in viewing how men are societally portrayed and some of the resources men and boys have access to lead healthy lives.

The reality is that violence against women is most often perpetrated by men and the use of violence is often based on men’s own experiences with violence and commonly held versions of manhood that create barriers for men accessing support services. We highly recommend taking less than five minutes out of your day to watch the videos which we have embedded. If you want to read the blog, click here.

In 2016 Calgary saw a 36 per cent increase in domestic violence calls, making it one of its highest since 2004. The need to end domestic violence as a community is more pressing than ever. As the largest and longest serving women’s organization in Calgary, we are committed to speaking up and speaking out to end gender-based violence to ensure women can live safely in the communities they chose. In 2015, YW Sheriff King Home sheltered 212 women and 276 children fleeing family violence.

More >

Jessica Ackerman Graphic Design Portfolio

Black History Month

Bookmark and Share
This entry was posted on by .

Canada’s documented history tends to leave out details that don’t align with the current reputation as multicultural pioneers, tolerant of all newcomers to our country.  When we delve into our country’s history, even our province’s history, we leave out the parts about the racism, prejudice and segregation. In Alberta, elementary and junior high students are only exposed to a small amount of black history which is focused on the Underground Railroad. It is high time that we taught history from an intersectional approach, a term coined by a black woman named Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, that acknowledges there are multiple and intersecting forms of oppression and discrimination.

It was 1947, in a dark movie theatre, Canada was, again, confronted by its racism that found a woman being forcibly removed and arrested. Her crime? Tax evasion in the amount of one cent after sitting in a ‘whites’ only section of a movie theatre. Her punishment? Spending the night in jail and paying a fine 2000 times more than the province was defrauded. Viola Desmond, oftern referred to as Canada’s Rosa Parks was the first black woman to legally challenge racial segregation in Canada, Until 2016, when Viola was announced as the first woman on a banknote, history forgot this story.

History is often written by the ‘victors’ and overlooks the impact of marginalized communities. For example, we don’t teach about Alberta’s dark history with African, Caribbean and Black Canadians. Few know that Alberta was the only province to legally recognize the Ku Klux Klan, who used to openly meet in Edmonton or that Albertan politicians infamously said there should be “no more dark spots in Alberta”.

However, history took a different turn this week with Alberta honouring the history and contributions of African, Caribbean and Black Canadians by officially declaring February Black History Month for the first time. The proclamation makes Alberta the fourth province in Canada to recognize Black History.

The black community’s historical presence has had a substantial impact on Alberta from Violet King, the first black female lawyer in Canada who graduated from the University of Alberta, to John Ware and his contributions to the Calgary Stampede. We write out how many smaller Alberta towns owe their start to black immigrants seeking better lives with many escaping religious persecution or fleeing racism and violence. Particularly those coming from the United States who were leaving a country where they were oppressed and the victims of racial violence like lynchings.

We must look at our history with the intent to learn more in order to avoid repeating past mistakes. Collectively remain vigilant and aware of the deep seeded prejudices we may have based on a history we may not understand. Our province’s strength comes from its diversity. Despite the rich stories that exist from all communities, we know that history wasn’t written to reflect everyone’s experiences, so those who identify as a visible minority remain invisible, especially women.

At YW Calgary, through our work we demonstrate an inclusive and anti-oppressive approach. Women have the opportunity to engage based on their social identities and experiences.  We welcome all women, and their families and believe that our community is that much healthier and stronger when we embrace diversity.

More >

01-Truth_e

Reconciliation: More than a Symbolic Gesture

Bookmark and Share
This entry was posted on by .

Women have always been a beacon of hope for me. Mothers and grandmothers in the lives of our children, and in the survival of our communities, must be recognized and supported. The justified rage we all feel and share today must be turned into instruments of transformation of our hearts and our souls, clearing the ground for respect, love, honesty, humility, wisdom and truth. We owe it to all those who suffered, and we owe it to the children of today and tomorrow. May this day and the days ahead bring us peace and justice.

  • Patsy George on the strength of Indigenous women and their contributions to reconciliation.

In 2015, following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s release, Calgary City Council directed the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee (CAUAC) to discuss truth and reconciliation. The findings and subsequent calls to action outlined in the TRC, after six years of hearings and testimony from more than 6,700 residential school survivors from across Canada detailed more than a century of abuse at Indian Residential Schools. The findings and calls to action were captured in 25 pounds of literature across nine volumes recounting the destruction of a culture.

The TRC found that the residential school system was created intentionally to remove indigenous parent’s involvement in the development of their children as a means of assimilation. Alberta’s role in reconciliation is substantial when you consider Alberta had at least 26 residential schools with some counts reaching 30. In Calgary, there were at least 10 residential schools in and around our city removing indigenous children from their families for more than 110 years.

This week Calgary took an additional and important step towards reconciliation with an almost unanimous vote to rename Langevin Bridge to Reconciliation Bridge. The change was first recommended in White Goose Flying, the report to Calgary City Council on the Indian Residential School Truth and Reconciliation calls to action in May 2016. The report highlighted the importance of renaming the bridge because of its link to Indian Residential Schools. Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, one of the Fathers of Canadian Confederation was a proponent of residential schools and an instrumental figure in establishing the design of Canadian residential schools.

“The fact is that if you wish to educate the children, you must separate them from their parents during the time they are being taught. If you leave them in the family, they may know how to read and write, but they will remain savages, whereas by separating them in the way proposed, they acquire the habits and tastes…of civilized people.” – Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, 1883.

Renaming the bridge does not wash the history of our city or our country: itis a symbolic gesture in recognizing the history between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians and how complicated that history can be. Today we are building a different future. It is a step in the right direction to end the inter-generational trauma that was direct result of the development and implementation of a school system that’s purpose was to eradicate so-called savages. We applaud the bridge’s renaming and the steps the city of Calgary has taken in the name of reconciliation.

As the largest and longest serving women’s organization in the city, YW Calgary recognizes the intersectional trauma that indigenous women have experienced. We applaud the steps taken by governments at all levels towards reconciliation. We see the vulnerabilities and pain directly linked to indigenous women and their family’s experiences with residential schools and remain committed to building communities based on respect.

Education is the key to reconciliation; we must demand a course of action at the federal and provincial levels of government to understand and ensure we all remain aware of this history. Each of us has a role to play in reconciliation and YW Calgary remains committed to supporting women and their families to heal and build skills through our services and continued advocacy. Click here to learn more about TRC’s Calls to Action and click here to learn about CAUAC’s calls to action for Calgary.

More >