For the month of February, our Community Initiative of the Month is North Point Douglas Women's Centre!
The North Point Douglas Women's Centre walks with women to strengthen their voice, make change and engage in our community. Their vision is aA safe, healthy, vibrant community for women and families.
We had the opportunity to ask Tara Zajac, Executive Director of North Point Douglas Women’s Centre, some questions about North Point Douglas Women's Centre so we could learn more about the important work they do in our community.
Tell us about North Point Douglas Women's Centre.
The North Point Douglas Women’s Centre began as a project in 2000, sponsored by the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg. The North Point Douglas Project for Women was developed as an empowerment project in recognition of women’s generally unequal position in society, their unique needs, and the important role they have in planning at the community level to enhance social, economic, and environmental conditions for themselves and their families.
From the project grew the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre and in 2002 we moved into our current location on Austin Street. The Centre is envisioned by community women to be a hub where women and their families can gather in a safe and welcoming space, building friendships, and providing access to needed resources and programs.
Over time, and with a great deal of hard work and courageous hearts, staff and financial resources have grown alongside the needs of the community, but it is always a struggle to keep up. The Women’s Centre remains committed to supporting community members where they are at, in a process that is community led, compassionate, and culturally safe. The Women’s Centre continues to prioritize the safety, healing, and matriarchal leadership of the women of North Point Douglas, confident that the voices of our grandmothers, mothers, sisters and aunts will help restore the balance that has been lost through violence, racism and poverty.
Tell us about how you walk with women to strengthen their voice, make change and engage in our community.
North Point Douglas Women’s Centre has worked on strengthening our communities voice through our many programs. The Centre has started Women’s Warrior circle, providing a safe and judgement-free space for our women to meet, learn traditional Indigenous teachings, and having a sharing circle in a safe space. The Centre has also provided women experiencing domestic and family violence a space to heal from their trauma, through the Red Road to Healing program. We are able to engage the community by simply just being here for the people when they need to have their needs met. This includes providing food, toiletries, feminine hygiene, or simply a listening and non-judgemental ear. Our centre provides wellness checks to make sure the mental health of our community is being looked after. We also provide safety for the community through the Mama Bear Clan who have steadily walked and kept the community safe, clothed, and fed throughout the entire Covid-19 pandemic.
How has Covid-19 impacted North Point Douglas Women's Centre and the work you do in the community?
Covid-19 has impacted the NPDWC as now we can’t have the centre filled to the capacity it was before Covid-19. We are still allowing 2 people into the building to use the phone, washroom, or to warm up. Although we are still able to provide basic needs to the people it has been difficult to meet the emotional needs of our neighbours as they simply just want to visit and have some human interaction throughout this isolation. Thankfully we were able to stay open throughout the entire pandemic and have modified things as we go.
Why are the services provided by North Point Douglas Women's Centre so essential for those who receive the services?
(as of right now) We are providing people in the community with meeting their basic needs. This includes food, forms, phone calls, and especially mental health. The community feels better and safer, that we are somewhere to turn to when a lot of places have shut down due to the pandemic. We are adapting as we go. Handing masks out. Doing wellness checks. One on one counselling.
The funds coming in from our Community Initiative of the Month campaign will go towards their Women's Warrior Circle.
Women's Warrior Circle is dedicated to creating positive change and promoting healing in the community through matriarchal leadership and service to the community. Rooted in reclaiming traditional Indigenous teachings and practices, we create space to awaken the wisdom of our elders that lives in each of us. We host a drum group, sharing circle, and local elders and knowledge keepers.
We serve the community by consulting on and implementing local safety initiatives based on community voices and perspectives. In 2016, Women's Warrior Circle provided the organizational structure and support for the creation of Mama Bear Clan. We continue to support Mama Bear Clan through fundraising, offering support at local events, and more. This group in the last few years has done their own fundraising from start to finish with Bannock Dog Fundraisers and Tea and Bannock Fundraisers. Due to Covid they have been unable to do so.
A portion of sales from all cupcakes from both in-store pick up and from SkipTheDishes at our shop at 580-E Academy Road and at The Forks will be donated to North Point Douglas Women's Centre throughout the month of January.
To learn more about North Point Douglas Women's Centre, click here.