BWSS is proud to offer our Thrive program, a program carefully designed to support the diverse needs of women with lived experience in sex economies in setting and achieving their goals.  We understand that women’s experiences in the industries differ widely from one another and therefore need a program that can be equally flexible and woman-lead.  Thrive offers a non-judgmental space where participants can meet one on one with a support worker to explore trauma and coping, build healthy coping tools, develop their support system and/or explore options for meeting their everyday needs including: housing, legal advocacy, treatment, clothing, emergency shelter, safety planning, support groups, and many other goals. 

Thrive is a flexible, participant-guided program that moves at your pace according to your goals.  Also, our Service Coordinator is able to meet with participants in the community in public places as needed.  At BWSS we see the power and resilience in every participant we work with; we are honoured to be beside you supporting your work to move from surviving to thriving. 

For more informoation, contact Brooklyn, 604-808-4378 or


Black Out!

Black Out! is a monthly meet-up
Black Out! is an evening out for Black Women with Black Experiences
Black Out! is time in a safe space where you are the norm and not the other
Black Out! Is an opportunity for affirmation and authenticity

Let’s come together to celebrate and commiserate
Allow the music and mood to create movement in your soul
Black Out! is whatever we want it to be!! Because we create it together!!

Join us the first Tuesday of every month beginning September 3rd from 6 – 9 pm for an evening like no other.

Judges, Justice and The Criminal Legal System

By Rona Amiri

In 2015, an in Alberta told a young woman that she could have avoided rape by keeping her knees together.

In 2015, acquitted a man for murder in the killing of Cindy Gladue, the trial was tainted by an incredible lack of knowledge of even the most basic sexual assault laws — not just by the trial judge, but by Crown lawyers, who were supposed to protect Gladue’s interests and seek justice for her.

In April of 2018, a young woman testified about being raped by her brother in-law and that she didn’t always fight back when she was brutally raped over a 15-hour period. Sometimes she screamed at the accused to stop, but other times she stayed quiet out of fear, she said. “Surely it is one or the other,” Superior Court Justice Mitchell determined in her April 2018 verdict. “The fact she behaved inconsistently in this regard, weakens her credibility.”

In 2018, a judge acquitted a violin teacher despite testimony from 21 female victims describing how, when they were teenagers in the 1970s and ’80s, the teacher would make them stand and sometimes play topless so he could touch their breasts.

Earlier this year, a judge acquitted a man who dragged a woman into his living room by her arms and legs, removed her clothing, and then sexually assaulted her repeatedly and threatened to “stomp on her head” if she left.

These are just a few of the examples of the failings of judges in Canada. Some would argue that these cases are abnormal and are the result of a few “bad apples”. But if that were the case, wouldn’t we have a better way of screening judges before they are hired to make sure no bad apples got through? But with so few reports of sexual violence being made and even fewer actually being prosecuted it actually seems to be that this is a larger issue than many think. 

When a system is built to uphold those in power and maintain the status quo of patriarchy we cannot say that it is just a few judges who have this dangerous belief system. It is actually the systemic problems, such as institutional sexism, that require substantial change to create solutions.

Bill C-337 – the JUST Act (Judicial Accountability through Sexual Assault Law Training Act) which was intended for judges to receive training when it came to sexual assault died in the Senate in June after senators stalled for more than two years. 

The senate, just like the criminal justice system is patriarchal. So I pose this question, can there be any meaningful change in a system designed to maintain patriarchy?

Accountability and mandatory training for police, lawyers and judges is only the starting point for real transformation.

Justice looks different for all survivors and survivors know what they need. For some, justice means going to the police, for others it might mean writing a letter telling the perpetrator what they did was not ok or for some survivors it might mean sharing their story through social media. At BWSS we support a survivors journey to justice how they see it, holding space, providing information, resources and emotional support. For more information about our services and programs call 604-687-1867 or email


It’s Time

As we know, the need for immediate action on gender-based violence is critical. In 2018, a woman or girl was killed every 2.5 days and on average, a woman is killed every six days by her intimate partner in Canada. And it has only been a couple of months since the national inquiry’s final report into the widespread violence, described as genocide, perpetrated against Indigenous Women, Girls and LGBTQ2S*.

Last week, the Federal Government released the second annual “It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Address and Prevent Gender-Based Violence”, which highlights the Government of Canada’s progress on ending gender-based violence. This new report is evidence that our collective advocacy is moving the dial forward but is also a reminder that we need to continue the pressure because Canada still has a long road ahead before we can live free without the fear of violence.

The Government has concentrated its actions under the three pillars of the Strategy,

  1. preventing gender-based violence
  2. supporting survivors and their families,
  3. promoting responsive legal and justice systems (focusing on accountability).

Highlighted in the report:

  • Investment of more than $80 million in more than 80 projects in communities across the country to prevent gender-based violence and support diverse groups of survivors and their families, including preventing teen dating violence and child maltreatment, and equipping professionals to respond;
  • Investing in gender-based violence and gender equality research to support evidence-based policy and programs, the first public call for research proposals in over a decade;
  • Bringing in a new law that provides five days paid leave for victims of family violence working in a federally regulated sector;
  • Completing the expanded review of over 30,000 sexual assault case files by federal law enforcement in April 2019;

Read the full report here.

For 40 years, BWSS has been providing programs, services, support, and advocacy to end gender based violence. Now, more than ever women, trans women and gender non-binary folks are speaking out about their experiences. 

Help give the gift of safety, because Safety Changes Everything.

Training Presentations at BWSS:  Beyond Trauma Informed to Healing Centered Engagement

Growing from forty years frontline knowledge, BWSS training and education program shapes and deepens the development of skills and analysis of individuals, groups and organizations to strengthen social service practices and to advance social change.

At BWSS, our service delivery model extends beyond trauma informed to healing centered engagement that takes into consideration several aspects of survivors lived experiences. Healing centered engagement is strength based, advances a collective view of healing, and re-centers culture as a central feature in well-being. Healing centered engagement is explicitly political, rather than clinical.  Healing centered engagement is culturally grounded and views healing as the restoration of identity. Healing centered engagement is asset driven and focuses well-being we want, rather than symptoms we want to suppress.
BWSS training and education programs grow from strong theoretical and practical frameworks. We have numerous training sessions and presentations planned for Fall and Winter 2019 including:

The Mental Health Conference hosted by Canadian Mental Health Association September 2019 in Toronto, Ontario. Their 2019 theme Connection Interrupted: Restoring Mental Health in a Fractured World  resonated profoundly with us and Angela Marie MacDougall, Brandy Kane and Rosa Elena Arteaga will present:

Intersectional Discourses on Healing
Day one – Session A1 10:00 to 12:00. Here’s more.

Strengthening Social Service Practices, Advancing Social Change.


This dynamic trio will be in Montreal September 24 – 27 to deliver specialized training program at Mouvement Contre le Viol et l’Inceste (Movement against Rape and Incest).

Session will include:

  • Supporting Indigenous Women and Traditional Healing by Brandy Kane
  • Deconstructing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to Advance Healing Centred Engagement by Angela Marie MacDougall
  • Foundations of Narrative therapy and Trauma Informed Feminist Approach and Rosa Elena Arteaga


Mass Shooters Have this In Common

Over the last week there have been three mass shootings in the US. All three shooters had expressed their hatred for women.

We have said it before and we will say it again, the subtext of acts of mass violence is misogyny. With each new story in the news, as details are revealed so is the history of toxic masculinity of the shooter, they are mad, resentful and driven by a sense of entitlement.

In 1989 in Montreal Montreal Massacre at École Polytechnique 14 women were killed at the school. The shooter yelling: “I hate feminists!” before he began shooting.

In 2014, six people were shot and killed on a California university campus by a member of the “incel” community. His anger directed at women for not dating him.

In Florida the shooter was abusive to both his wives before opening fire on revelers in Pulse nightclub.

The mass shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, was committed by a man who’d threatened to kill his mother years before he gunned her and 26 other people down at an elementary school.

Authorities responded to 36 emergency 911 calls from the family home of the, South Florida high school shooter because of his violence towards his mother.

While mass shootings are a small percentage of overall violence they tell us something about inherent misogyny. Let us not forget earlier this year The Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability (CFOJA) released their report #CallItFemicide Understanding gender-related killings of women and girls in Canada 2018. The report confirms that in 2018 148 women and girls were killed by violence in Canada. On average, every 2.5 days one woman or girl is killed in Canada which they state is “a consistent trend for four decades”.

We cannot, any longer, ignore misogyny, whether it is online, harassment, sexual violence or violence in intimate partner relationships –because it has deadly consequences.

BWSS exists to disrupt misogyny and other forms of inequalities. Supporting survivors of gender based violence through crisis support, counselling, support groups, and legal advocacy but also working for systemic and social change.