Any woman. Any age. Any story.

When I first started my position as a summer student at the Women’s Centre, I was told that one of my projects involved collecting stories from our community. It was in this moment that I realized I had an opportunity to go one of two ways: I could ask a couple of women if they would be interested in sharing some of their experiences; or I could create a project aimed at nurturing a storytelling culture that recognized the importance of women’s voices in our community.

I decided it would be worthwhile to make an attempt to create second choice. In order to foster an environment that would enable people to feel comfortable enough to share, I ensured that women decided how and when they shared their story. This took the form of offering women the choice of submitting their story online, on a leaflet, over email, or sitting down with me to chat. Overwhelmingly, women responded with a desire to share their story face to face with me. Talking to women was my favorite part because almost every single time the interaction became a conversation between two women connecting with each other.

When we first started to ask our community to share their stories I heard a lot of women say: “I don’t have a story” or “I don’t think I have a story interesting enough to tell.” To this I would say, “You don’t have to share if you don’t want to, but I want you to know that every time words escape our lips we are telling a story, and every time we are given the privilege of receiving a story we should acknowledge the gift we have been given.” Eventually, our community responded to our request with mass amounts of enthusiasm. I was given the opportunity to hear stories from volunteers, women who access our services, staff, and women who have been a part of our community for 20 years or some for a couple of months.

Topics ranged from poverty, women’s rights and freedoms, mental health, new friendships, and much more. I heard the stories from a lot of you who are currently reading this post, and while many of you thanked the Women’s Centre, I want to take this opportunity to thank you. Thank you for choosing to be vulnerable with me and tell your story to all of us. You shared many incredible, turbulent, and inspiring stories of resilience, and how the Women’s Centre has helped you through these journeys. One woman said, “The Women’s Centre has provided me with so much goodness and the best of the best is the opportunity to connect with others…” That’s truly what this project became, to connect women with each other and share their stories. I want to end this post with a request, don’t stop sharing your stories; your voice is important and valuable.

This post was written by Taylor, our Communications Summer Student.

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