Walking Through 20 Years of Herstories

On Wednesday, August 16 the Women’s Centre held its second Feminist Walk of the year. About 40 people joined us to celebrate the Centre’s 20th anniversary. The walk, led by volunteers, explored its programs, herstories, accomplishments, and neighbourhood.

The first stop on the tour was Inglewood Art Supplies located just down the street from the Women’s Centre in Bridgeland. This was a former location of the Centre from 1997 to 2014. Yvonne, a founding member of the Centre, talked about its creation: how a group of volunteers worked to transform it from a program at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) to an independent organization.

It was only fitting then, that our second step was the YWCA, Calgary’s largest and longest serving women’s organization. Robyn, a peer support volunteer at the Women’s Centre, informed walkers that when the Centre opened, organizers wanted to ensure that they did not duplicate services already provided by the YWCA. Over the past 20 years, the Women’s Centre has provided a variety of programs and services related to basic needs provision while also advocating for policies that will reduce poverty.

Our third stop was the Bow Building. Nye and Ahona, participants from our Girl Up program, stood in front of the Wonderland sculpture (a large wire head of a young girl), while they talked about the programs that the Women’s Centre offers for girls, such as Girl Power (grades 5–7), Girl Force (grades 7–9), and Girl Up (grades 10–12). These programs are free and support girls to build their confidence and belief in themselves while building community and practicing leadership and activism skills.

The group then moved on to City Hall where Nancy  discussed women’s involvement in Calgary politics. She highlighted current efforts to commemorate the city’s first female alderman and the first woman elected at the municipal level in the British Empire, Annie Gale. Nancy also talked about the work being done by Ask Her, a group working to increase the number of women running for Calgary City Council in the 2017 election.

Our final stop was Olympic Plaza where peer support volunteer Julia discussed the history of LGBTQ2+ activism in Calgary and the connection to the Women’s Centre. The LGBTQ2+ community in Calgary has engaged in a number of important struggles, such as fighting for the right to adopt children and pushing the province to include sexual orientation in the human rights code. Women’s Centre community members have been involved with these struggles, and the Centre continues to advocate for LGBTQ2+ issues today.

Check out photos of the walk, taken by our lovely volunteer photographer, Sherin.

This post was written by Julia, peer support and Feminist Walk volunteer at the Centre.

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