A place for women,
a voice for women,
Did you know that 2023 is the NSWC's 50th Anniversary?
The North Shore Women's Centre was founded in 1973
For 50 years, we have been serving the North Shore to make it a safer, more equitable place for women, girls, and gender-diverse individuals.
Read on to learn more about our impact!
The NSWC at a glance
A group of passionate feminists and Women's Studies students at Capilano College (now Capilano University) participate in a project for their "Explorations" class. Their excitement and passion can't be contained by just one project, and as a result, the North Shore Women's Centre is founded in 1973 by the "F" Group.
Seeing the growing need for emergency shelter for women and children on the North Shore, and amidst unaffordable housing and discriminatory rental practices barring women with children, members of the NSWC team up with other local agencies to create the Emily Murphy House. Emily Murphy house, now known as SAGE House, offers emergency shelter to women and children fleeing violence and abuse. North Shore Crisis Services Society is incorporated to oversee the running of this project.
Members of the NSWC are hard at work, stuffing envelopes, participating in marches, sending delegates to Ottawa for governmental conferences on the status of women, and participating in grassroots lobbying. Notable events include: Supreme Court of Canada cases Pappajohn v R (1980) on the mistake of fact defense for rape and sexual assault; advocacy in support of the 1988 R v Morgentaler decision which ultimately ruled that criminalizing abortion violates women's charter rights; protests and community action against the distribution of pornography which depicted rape or other forms of sexual violence (illegal in British Columbia at the time, and with specific focus on a local video chain called Red Hot Video); letter-writing in support of Doris Anderson regarding Lloyd Axworthy, the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women (1980-1981), and more.
In November of 1982, the NSWC is forced to move from its base of operations at the Highlands United Church in Edgemont Village to the Delbrook Community Centre. At this time, membership cost $6, and the Resource Centre Coordinator position (along with most other operative positions) was largely volunteer-run.
The NSWC receives operational funding from the Ministry of Women's Equality, Province of British Columbia (amongst others, such as the Human Resources Development Canada Women's Programs division, the District and City of North Vancouver, and the District of West Vancouver), which allows extended hours, paid positions for staff, and more events.
The NSWC runs a popular monthly Pub Night during this time (which began in the late 1970s), Women's Wednesdays monthly meetings, a scholarship for women students at Capilano College called the North Shore Women's Centre Awards, and more. Additional permanent staff members join the team.
The NSWC begins hosting the North Shore Violence Against Women in Relationships (NS VAWIR) Coordinating Committee in 2001. By 2005/2006, over 2,000 women are accessing programs and services at the NSWC, including: 100+ women participating in the Pro Bono Women's Legal Clinic (now Family Law Clinic); 100+ support group participants, at the time joining the Single Moms' Support Group or Lesbian and Bisexual Women's Support Group; 89 women receiving computer training on internet use, email, and word processing; and 100+ participants in the Women's Health in Women's Hands workshop series, on topics such as menopause, stress management, sexual health, body awareness, and self-esteem. In 2007, we begin offering our Fearless Girls Empowerment Camps.
In 2004, the provincial funding dedicated to Women's Centres all across British Columbia is cut by 100%, causing a major strain on the NSWC and the closure of many other Women's Centres across the province. At the time, the NSWC has approximately 3 full-time paid staff, 6 contract workers facilitating programs and overseeing projects, and 80 volunteers.
In July of 2004, the NSWC moves locations once again, having relocated at least three times since taking up residence at the Delbrook Community Centre. This move brought the NSWC to the former Vancouver Chamber of Commerce Building, a heritage house located at 131 East 2nd Street, North Vancouver. This location change allows the NSWC to stay afloat thanks to the in-kind donation of the facility by the City of North Vancouver. Our drop-in resource centre remains at this location to this day.
During the 2010s, the North Shore Women's Centre begins a celebratory fundraising event called Crimson Cabaret, which runs until 2012. While the NSWC had hosted International Women's Day events since its foundation in the 1970s, the annual International Women's Day Celebration and Benefit fundraiser began in 2016.
In March of 2020, the COVID-19 virus is declared a global pandemic, leading to widespread community lockdowns and the closure of many small organizations. Thanks to the generosity of the community, the NSWC survives the early days of COVID lockdown measures with significant closures and restrictions of our programs and services.
In 2021 and 2022, the NSWC staff and volunteers make great efforts to increase our programs and services back to pre-COVID levels, as well as expand to meet the growing need of the North Shore amidst steeply rising costs of living, unaffordable housing, food insecurity, and increases in family, intimate partner, and gender-based violence.
By January 2023, the NSWC employs 7 full and part-time employees.