Women’s Place Kenora is a charitable non-profit woman’s resource centre owned and operated by a woman-centred Collective. Women’s Place works to create equality and justice for women through educational programs on women’s economic independence and the prevention of violence against women and children. Women’s Place helps to overcome barriers of oppression so that women can become full participants in society on an equal basis.
WHERE WE COME FROM
In 1976, an Aboriginal woman was sexually assaulted and she bravely reported it to police. The medical and legal processes she endured served to re-victimize her and she sought support through the creation of a grassroots cross cultural group of women. This group of women (The Rape & Sexual Assault Group) were successful in securing short term funding for a 24 hour crisis line operated out of the founders’ homes. In 1977, this group began sheltering women and children fleeing violence by bringing them into their homes. This was done at great risk to these women. Through community donations they were able to rent a small affordable apartment. In 1978, the group (Kenora Women Crisis Intervention Project) Incorporated, secured funding and obtained office space for their operation. The apartment that served as the first women’s shelter in Kenora was severely inadequate and when the group approached the Municipal Council for help they were shut down due to zoning and fire regulations.
During this time, the group changed their name and in May of 1981 were incorporated under Women’s Place Kenora. They continued to support women through their crisis line.
WPK continued to advocate for a women’s shelter when the province began funding Family Resource Centres. When the City chose the Presbyterian Church to open a fully Ministry funded women’s shelter over Women’s Place, it felt like a slap in the face. Ironically, WPK was asked to train shelter staff when the Kenora Family Resource Centre first opened in 1986. In 1987, WPK was approved for the funding of a building to house the women’s resource centre. As time went on and crisis line services were firmly established, WPK had grown and was ready to expand. In an attempt to clearly distinguish between assault services and women’s centre programs, The Kenora Sexual Assault Centre incorporated into a separate entity in 1991.
WPK secured its first core funding in 1993 only to have it severed in the brutal cuts of 1995. Throughout the years, Women’s Place has survived through a variety of funding grants and programs. But what has held constant is the courage, determination and vision of women in Kenora to support and strengthen this grassroots community organization. WPK will be here for as long as it takes for women to reach equality and eradicate violence against women.