Statement of Purpose
The Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre is committed to providing information, resources, support and counselling for women to assist them with life choices. Our purpose is to work together to create a world that is free from violence, inequality, and oppression where all women have access to equal rights, universal child care, and the right to equal pay for work of equal value.
The Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre is a feminist collective committed to promoting the rights of all women and providing women centered services in our community.
To provide women with access to resources, counseling and self-help programs that will assist them with life choices.
To actively address all forms of violence against women at all levels of the community.
To work towards the elimination of poverty.
To challenge sexism and all forms of discrimination against women including racism, homo/bi/transphobia, at all levels of the community and help women achieve their rightful place in society.
To enhance the status of women by addressing issues of importance to women such as access to high-quality, universally accessible child care, and the right to equal pay for work of equal value.
HERSTORY OF THE QUESNEL WOMEN’S RESOURCE CENTRE
In 1979 a small group of women joined together and applied for a grant. In 1980 a small $5,000 start-up grant from the federal government’s Secretary of State allowed the group to hire Frances McLean. Then a process of becoming a Society was initiated and later charitable status was granted.
By December 1981 the Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre was in operation and was centrally located at 466 Reid Street. A grant for renovations of the Centre provided training for women in carpentry, wiring, dry walling, and furniture building. However, the space was not very accessible as it was down a long flight of stairs, had no windows, and lacked a play area for children. In June 1992 the Women’s Centre acquired the building at 690 McLean Street. We own this building and have ensured it is wheelchair-accessible, secure, and child-friendly with a big yard. In 2009 the Rotary Club of Quesnel donated funds to rebuild our wheelchair ramp and to refurbish the exterior of our home.
The Strawberry Patch
In the first few years, a number of ambitious projects were undertaken. In 1982 we created the Strawberry Patch Child-minding Centre in order to keep our children busy during meetings. It provided care for certain hours each week for children 18 months to 5 years of age. Due to limited licensing and lack of funding, we were unable to continue this service, and in 1992 it was discontinued.
Kool Kids Clothing Store
We also started a children’s clothing store that gave women practice with clerical, cashier, and management skills. It was in operation for the three years. It didn’t contribute to the operational funds for the Centre and had to be dropped.
The Women’s Centre provided job-training for women for many years. We operated a Youth Training Options Program and five Re-entry Programs through Canada Employment and Immigration funding. Each of these programs provided job orientation and training for 10 – 20 women.
In 1991 women identified, through a survey, the most important issues in the community. The following were the main concerns: family violence, employment and training, education, and transportation. Workshops were held to address these issues.
Planning For Change Project
In September 1992 Patty Kimpton was hired for six months to help co-ordinate existing services for women, build a network and improve public relations in the community.
Breaking the Barrier
In October 1992 Jasu Kotak was hired to provide support, information, and translation services for the immigrant community in the area.
Sexual Assault Crises Line
In August 1999 the Women’s Resource Centre used surplus funding to get this line up and running. Currently, women, men and children who have been sexually assaulted/abused can call 24 hours/day to obtain anonymous, confidential support, information and on-going advocacy to deal with the abuse.
Stopping the Violence
A Stopping the Violence (STV) counsellor was hired to provide counselling for women who had experienced abuse. In 2004 additional funding was provided for an Outreach worker. A number of women have held these positions over the years. Currently, Catherine Forbes and Sherry Harper share these positions. Initially, STV and Outreach was funded by the BC Ministry of Women’s Equality, then by the BC Ministry of Housing and Social Programs, and is currently funded by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General (Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division).
Nobody’s Perfect Program
For a number of years, we partnered with Quesnel Family Services to offer a young parenting program that had both parenting courses and ongoing support. The provincial funding for this program was terminated but were able to help continue this program for some years with money from Direct Access and by teaming up with Quesnel Family Services who ran the NBP Program from their agency.
The Volunteer Program
Volunteer involvement has been a critical component of the Women’s Centre since its inception. Volunteers have done an enormous amount of the work at the Women’s Centre over the years. In return they have learned valuable skills. Many leave their volunteer positions because they have obtained employment. We also benefit from practicum students from the College of New Caledonia’s Social Service Worker certificate program and the University of Northern BC’s social work program. Often, we hire summer students with funding received from the federal government. They are able to assist with ongoing projects and activities and can be essential for continuity through the summer.
Quesnel has had a high rate of teen pregnancy and the Women’s Centre has assisted by operating, in partnership with the School District #28, a student-focused day care on Bowron Avenue. Additional support for the young mothers was provided to help them stay in school. For some of the several years that Uma Yaz was open, alternative education was offered on one side of the facility and the day care operated on the other side. In 2002 the BC Ministry of Children and Families cut the enhancement grant that was crucial for providing the specialized services, and the Women’s Centre had to close Uma Yaz in 2003.
Support and community involvement
The Women’s Centre has sponsored a number of support groups over the years including SOS (Survivors of Sexual Abuse), Adult Children of Alcoholics, and Parents of Sexually Abused Children.
There has been many community groups and individuals that used our facilities since its doors opened. These include: Mental Health Association, Quesnel Food Coop, Quesnel Environmental Society, Tough Love, One Parents Association, Alcohol Anonymous and Alanon, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, Men’s Support Groups, Cariboo Musicians Association, La Leche League, and Nobody’s Perfect Parenting.
Status of Women
The Women’s Centre has been involved in campaigns to promote policies, legislation and services that would benefit women and to lobby against those that place women in a disadvantaged situation. The Status of Women committee has tackled a variety of issues and projects throughout the Centre’s Herstory. Some of these have been local; preserving the right to Unemployment Insurance for seasonal farm workers in the mid-nineties and the struggle against the apprehension of large numbers of the community’s children by the government in 1997 and 1998.
Anti-pornography campaigns, anti-violence work and awareness of poverty issues have led the Centre into schools, hospitals, prisons and onto the streets in protest. The Centre has often made submissions to governments to demand improvements for women. An example is the submission to the BC Missing Women's Commission of Inquiry which is available on our website.
Other campaigns have been provincial or national in scope. The Women’s Centre is a member of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC). Through NAC, the Centre was involved in 1996 in the Women’s March against Poverty. Quesnel women went to Ottawa with thousands of other women from across the country to demand an end to violence against women and better living conditions.
Missing Voices: Mothers experiencing apprehension in the child welfare system
In a two-month period, December 1997 and January 1998, the BC Ministry of Children and Families removed 70 children from their families in Quesnel. This resulted in trauma and anguish in the community. The Women's Centre in association with the BC NAC received Status of Women funding to investigate the issues leading to support the affected mothers. Poor women escaping violence had been at particular risk for having their children removed from the home. This review resulted in information used to pressure the government for improvements in the services to women.
Since the early 1990’s, the Women’s Centre has also been a member of the BC Association of Women’s Centres. As a member of this group we have also been involved in province-wide actions to lobby government officials for better child care, improved social assistance rates, stronger anti-violence laws among other campaigns.
Missing and Murdered Women's Memorial Monument Project
There have been eight women murdered and five additional women missing under suspicious circumstances in Quesnel. Over 2 1/2 years, the Women's Centre raised $13,000 to install the beautiful monument that is situated along the river walk. It was unveiled at the 2010 Take Back the Night and is a focal point for families and friends of these women. It is a place of healing, remembrance and a reminder that we have a long way to go to end violence against women.
Connecting Northern Women's Conference
Service Canada funded the Women's Centre in 2008 to hire 3 women to conduct a needs assessment, organize a northern BC women's conference and create a website for the Centre. The survey responses showed that northern women's biggest concerns were poverty, violence, housing and addictions. A regional advisory committee designed a conference to address these issues and to allow women from across the region to come to together to form alliances.
In April 2009 the QWRC hosted the Connecting Northern Women: Northern Women's Conference. The conference was attended by 152 women from various places across BC and included two women who came from Whitehorse, YK. Six Women Centres were in attendance including the QWRC, the Williams Lake Women's Contact Society, Victoria Faulkner's Women's Centre, 100 Mile House Women's Centre, the Northern Women's Centre, and the Fort St. John Women's Centre.
Staff hired through Service Canada organized women affected by violence to express their experiences through art on tee-shirts. These were first displayed in the community during Anti-violence week in 2011. This project continued the following year.
Community Garden Project
Poverty and food security concerns motivated the Women's Centre to spearhead the development of a community garden. In 2010 Service Canada staff worked with a group of volunteers to fund raise for essentials for the garden; soil, mulch, trees, shrubs, seeds and fencing. Staff was again hired in 2011 and 2013 to support the development of this project.
For many years, from 1981 until 1989, the federal government’s Secretary of State provided the Centre with operational funding. In 1990 the amount was reduced; later operational funding was eliminated and funding was tied to particular projects. In 2005 the Conservative government changed the funding criteria to make it very difficult for Women’s Centres to access funding, and in 2006 for the first time, we operated without federal government support. This meant reduced hours of operation and reduced staff time.
In April 1992 the Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre received funding from the Women’s Equality ministry of the provincial government in the amount of $37,000 to cover operational expenses and to provide direct services. A stabilization grant from the province was used to do the extensive renovation of the new building. In 2001 the provincial Liberal government abolished the Women’s Equality ministry and announced cuts to Women’s Centres. Our operational funding was cut completely by the provincial government in March of 2004. Our Stopping the Violence counsellors continued to be funded by the province. We also receive money for our Outreach program from the province.
Over the years, we have received project-based contracts for some of our finances. For example, the City of Quesnel gave us a small grant to participate in a community safety audit. A federal grant allowed us to provide services specific to homeless women or women in danger of homelessness in 2005-2006. Because of the increasing poverty of women, our coordinator worked with other community agencies to get a homeless shelter in Quesnel in 2007.
In 2001 the Liberal government in BC cut many social service programs that benefited women, including the funding to Women's Centres. The BC Coalition of Women’s Centres actively challenged the Liberal government’s cutbacks that included protesting the scheduled cut of our Centre's operational funding. The Women's Centre made submissions to government budget hearings to no avail. Our centre remained open as it owned its building.
The Women's Centre has also organized fund-raising events over the years. These ranged from the last bake sale in the early 1980's that netted $11 to auctions and concerts. Our most successful events involved two different but very successful productions of the Vagina Monologues. These productions had the added benefit of educating the public about violence against women.
A group of women from the community spent months in 2011 raising money and securing donations of material and labour for an “extreme makeover” of the Women's Centre. For two weeks in June, the staff moved out of the building while new flooring, paint, inside and out, a fireplace, hot water tank, washer and dryer, fencing and landscaping and new furniture were installed. The Centre has a new look that is appreciated by all the clients and staff.
Bridging Program – Pre-employment Workshops
Our staff facilitated a preparatory workshop program for women who were seeking stability in their lives with the goal of returning to the workforce.
We also advocate and lobby for changes to government policies and programs that will improve women’s lives. This usually involves meetings with like-minded individuals and agencies with similar concerns. Our lobbying includes writing letters, facilitating educational workshops, meeting with politicians, and/or holding marches.
Volunteer Training Program
We offer women the opportunity to be involved in the operation of the Centre. A woman who is interested in the Centre’s work and who wants to upgrade her skills may assist with committee work, general office work such as filing, faxing, photocopying, organizing the library, answering the telephone, and using the computers. Volunteers are also invited to familiarize themselves with the policies and philosophy of the Centre and to contribute to decision-making at the Centre by attending meetings of interest to them. Volunteers can also be involved in the many committees at the Centre. Volunteers will gain organizational skills, interpersonal skills, and knowledge of community services and enhanced self-esteem.
We try to publish a newsletter four times a year to inform people in Quesnel about our activities and to increase awareness of issues of concern to women. These are available on our website.
We have worked with other local agencies on concerns of the community over the years. We have been active members of the Quesnel Child, Youth and Family Network, the Child Abuse Committee, Family Violence Task Force, and Community Services Planning Committees. We have enjoyed a good working relationship with all of the other social service agencies in Quesnel, sharing information and support.
Collective Orientation Package
Click the link to view our collective orientation package. It contains information about our constitution, structure, staff, meetings, and bylaws.
Constitution and Bylaws
In 2010, the women's resource centre adopted a logo. It was created by Claire Kujundzic.