A Summer Fair brings opportunity for women in Vancouver’s downtown eastside

June 30, 2016 – Coast Salish Territories

VANCOUVER, B.C. A Summer Fair in Vancouver will host women vendors and artisans from Vancouver’s downtown eastside providing safe income opportunities for women in the neighbourhood.

The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre with support from the City of Vancouver and in collaboration with other women’s organizations including Battered Women’s Support Services, WISH, and Atira are hosting a Summer Fair beginning Saturday July 2nd operating every Saturday until September 24th on the 200 block of Columbia Street.

Over 40 women from the dtes community are provided with a safe and festive environment where they can sell hand made arts and crafts or second hand goods. Women from the dtes community are also hired, provided training, and supported to assist with the operations of the Summer Fair. As well as over 40 vending tables, the Summer Fair is seeking to create a destination where tourists and Vancouverites can spend a Saturday afternoon in a fun festive environment of music, clowns, and candy floss!

The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC) holds a significant role in Vancouver’s downtown eastside where high levels of violence, poverty, and addictions characterize the community and where women and children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and injustice. DEWC provides a safe and secure space as well as basic needs and supports for over 500 women and children each day – 7 days a week.

“Services at our drop-in centre and shelter have created a safe and positive environment for the provision of basic needs and assisted women in overcoming challenges to improve their situations. As we work toward positive change for women in the Downtown Eastside, we encounter many women who would like to seek income opportunities but whose individual circumstances prevent their engagement in mainstream employment programs. A Women’s Summer Fair will provide women from the community with a source of income within an environment that holds the same values as DEWC: where women are safe, respected, and comfortable, and where their skills and abilities are recognized and valued” – Masami Tomioka, Drop-In Program Manager, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.

The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre sees a secondary potential and benefit from the Summer Fair. DEWC turns away a significant amount of used goods from the general public as there is not the infrastructure to facilitate the storage and distribution. Knowing that often perfectly good and useable items are turned away and end up at the landfill, as the Summer Fair develops DEWC hopes to match people with quality goods they no longer want to women in the community who can sell at the Summer Fair.

“Although our primary purpose is to facilitate real and positive opportunities for women in the dtes community, the Summer Fair benefits everyone: it creates income opportunities for women in a safe environment; offers local women artisans a safe space to sell their art; facilitates the reuse of quality items reducing unnecessary disposal at landfills; and brings a fun and festive environment to the streets of Vancouver” – Sara Nunez, Summer Fair Coordinator, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.

The Summer Fair is supported by the City of Vancouver, working closely with the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre to increase opportunities for women of the dtes community in a safe environment. The Summer Fair is also being supported by the DTES Street Market Association who are providing tents, equipment, and volunteers, and a small company, Portable Electric, who have donated access to green electricity through a solar technology battery system – which will provide power to event equipment.


For more information contact:
Alice Kendall, Executive Director, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre 778-323-4594
Masami Tomioka, Program Manager, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre 778-990-2572

Chloe is running for BWSS

Originally from Toronto, Chloe has been an avid runner and engaged philanthropist for years. Encouraged by her mother into running, being active and outdoors is something fun that Chloe and her mother do together.

Chloe takes the opportunity to run while raising funds for local charities.

She is spending the summer in Vancouver and this year for Scotiabank Half Marathon & 5K, Chloe signed up to run before choosing a charity. Later, while looking for a local women’s group to donate to, she found BWSS online and discovered BWSS was a featured charity for Scotiabank 2016. After a careful review of BWSS website, Chloe found the site very informative and noticed that BWSS works with all women, providing specialized services for Immigrant and Refugee women and culturally relevant support for Indigenous women.

Run 4 BWSS

Chloe then set off raising funds for BWSS. She set a fundraising goal and through the support of her community she has surpassed her original goal.

As a philanthropist, Chloe believes in the act of giving and loves to give back to community.

She really appreciates organized runs like Scotiabank Half Marathon & 5K as a great way to bring people together and a great way to meet people.


On June 26th, Chloe will run a half marathon, that’s 21K. No stranger to challenges, Chloe is turning this year’s run into a pursuit of possibility that violence against women can be prevent.

Thank you Chloe for inspiring all of us with your commitment to being active, outdoors and to making a real difference in community.


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For women living with violence, safety changes everything…

For women living with violence, safety changes everything…

At Battered Women’s Support Services, we know for women living with violence, safety changes everything so we commemorate Victims and Survivors of Crime Week from May 29 to June 4, 2016.

While reports of violent crime to police services is on the decline in Canada, domestic and sexual violence against women reports are actually increasing.

And that’s why we continue to work on the front-line, providing direct support to women and girls.

Our Victim Services Workers provide 100 appointments a month with 30 – 50 new intakes every week. In March 2016, our crisis line received 660 calls, a lifeline to 33 callers a day.

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It’s why we’re in the field delivering training and education to raise awareness and skills helping increase capacity of communities to respond to instances violence against women.

It’s why we bring dating violence education through a one of a kind program reaching over 2,000 teenage boys and girls, annually.

It’s why we work systemically, helping bring change to laws, policies and practices.

Victims and Survivors of Crime Week

Women supported through BWSS Victims Services are leaving abusive relationships now more than in any other time. Together, let’s honour the courageous women and girls and let’s remember that safety changes everything.

Thank you for supporting the work to end violence against women.

The Story of Prevention Begins With You


Did you know that when you walk or run for BWSS you are preventing violence against women for years onward?

[su_button url=”https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=3201310″ target=”blank” style=”flat” background=”#c40000″ size=”20″ center=”yes” radius=”10″]Register today![/su_button]

One in seven girls experience dating violence

One in seven girls experience dating violence – 53% experience sexual violence while in high school

Teenage girls and boys are trained to deliver violence prevention education

Teenage girls and boys are trained to deliver violence prevention education

Teenage girls and boys then present workshops at schools and community groups across BC

Teenage girls and boys then present workshops at schools and community groups across BC

Youth are aware, empowered and teach others for a safer community

Youth are aware, empowered and teach others for a safer community

Cycle of violence prevention

Set this cycle of violence prevention in action and run or walk for BWSS this June 26, 2016

As an additional benefit of running for Battered Women’s Support Services, BWSS will cover the registration fee for all those who register for the event and fund raise a minimum of $260. Email run4bwss@bwss.org for more information.


[su_button url=”https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=3201310″ target=”blank” style=”flat” background=”#c40000″ size=”20″ center=”yes” radius=”10″]Register today![/su_button]


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Community Forum on Responding to Changes to Immigration Policy

On November 15, 2013, BWSS organized a community forum to discuss responses to changes in immigration policy and ways to improve service delivery in collaboration with the Migrant Mothers Project and YWCA Metro Vancouver. We came together with 55 people including educators, front-line workers, management and volunteers who work in the areas of immigration and refugee settlement, immigration law, child protection/children’s aid, health care services, adult education, anti-violence against women services and community development.

Following the forum Rosa Elena Arteaga wrote Community Forum on Responding to Changes to Immigration Policy: Supporting Non-Status, Refugee and Immigrant Women Survivors of Gender Violence blog to share our knowledge and analysis on the discussed topics. Today, we are pleased to share a summary of the Forum to respond your requests for hearing more about the discussion and to share our knowledge to improve service delivery in our community.

Please read the Forum Summary, prepared by the Migrant Mother Project. You may download the document here.

Discussion Themes

Many topics emerged at the Vancouver Forum which commenced with acknowledgement that we are on Unceded Indigenous land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Throughout the forum, the connections between colonialism, global capitalism, and migration were integrated with analysis of the marginalization of women living with precarious immigration status in Canada. Here we expand upon some of the core themes that were raised at the Vancouver forum.

1. Linking Indigenous Sovereignty in Coast Salish Territories with Forced Migration

The Forum commenced with an opening ceremony led by Brandy Kane (Thunder Eagle Woman) who gave recognition to the traditional lands where the forum took place and led us in singing the Wonder Warrior song. Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director at BWSS added to the introduction and noted that the significance of the Women Warrior Song and the central role that Indigenous women are playing as leaders in anti-Violence Against Women work in Vancouver. It was evident that the women’s movement in Vancouver is committed to Indigenous sovereignty and recognizes the suffering of Mother Earth as inseparable to anti-violence work. This was further reinforced through linking the aboriginal plight of disputed lands in Canada, but also worldwide, to circumstances that lead to forced migration and oppression faced by immigrant women who are denied citizenship in Canada.

brandy kane2. Globalization and the Live-in-Caregiver Program

Linkages between global capitalism, the displacement of people worldwide, and gendered migration to Canada were especially pronounced in the Vancouver forum. It was noted that globalization and corporate culture have a transnational influence on government policies that result in environmental degradation, human displacement and cultural genocide. Live-in-caregivers were discussed as a group of women that represent a major source of income for the Philippines, but who must endure economic insecurity, forced cohabitation with their employers and family separation for several years. Through a series of case studies, forum presenters illustrated the layers of women face as live-in-caregivers and through their efforts to establish permanency in Canada and reunify with their families. The Vancouver forum attendees were congiscent of the tragedies unfolding in the aftermath of typhoon Hainan, which in part contributed to heightened awareness of the structural violence associated with migration and global inequalities.

3. Social Assistance for Mothers without Legal Status

In Vancouver, the Mothers without Legal Status Project, YWCA Metro Vancouver, began their research investigating the growing concerns for mothers without legal Canadian status and who have Canadian born children. Over five years of advocacy efforts, critical communication tactics and working with various ministries at the provincial level gave this group sufficient leverage to change certain policies in the Vancouver region including: 1) having children attend school without international student fees 2) allowing a mother to access British Colombia housing while waiting for permanent residency, and 3) providing social assistance to single parents without status who are fleeing abuse The importance of these changes were echoed by other forum attendees that noted the positive impact that these changes have had on women attempting to access services, especially within the shelter system. Moreover, the YWCA wishes to continue their advocacy efforts with other YWCA’s nationwide in order to make this a Federal campaign.

4. Developing Allies for Community Organizing and Policy Advocacy

The Vancouver Forum provided a space for attendees to discuss strategies around supporting women with precarious immigration status in Vancouver, but also to consider ways to develop networks with allies across the province and Canada-wide. The YWCA Metro Vancouver has been reaching out to YWCAs across Canada to explore the potential to expand their campaign for Mothers without Status to a federal level. There was a large desire to rally public awareness on this concern and doing so through sharing of women’s narratives, especially through social media and public awareness campaigns. In particular, the attendees noted the need to hold more events to raise consciousness on this topic in Vancouver.

community forum

The Vancouver forum created a space to discuss precarious immigration status, within a larger context of colonialism, globalization and subsequently forced migration. It is these factors that continue to impact and create links between Mother Earth, Indigenous sovereignty, as well as women with precarious immigration status seeking safety in Canada. Women’s experiences and resilience were honoured and shared amongst the group, which gave us a glimpse into the lives of the women that are caught in the middle of such global forces.

Service providers in the Vancouver area have been generating strong networks and are committed and able to discuss the injustices that are faced by their clients with precarious immigration status. Forum attendees highlighted the potential for networks amongst service providers to influence policy change at the local and provincial level.. However, additional efforts to mobilize networks that are able to engage media and policy makers to influence ministries at the provincial level and subsequently the federal level are critically needed. There was a strong sentiment of continuing to connect with one another in order to push for fair and equal policies for women, as well as their families, with precarious immigration status.

Within the anti-violence movement in Vancouver, there is an understanding that violence is significantly felt by women with precarious immigration status and that there is a need to prevent this violence from occurring by challenging and shifting unjust practices. Although more work remains to be done, the forum in Vancouver was an inspiring example of how to service providers, immigrant women and Indigenous leaders can work together to support women whose full humanity remains unrecognized in Canada.

Please read the article written by Rosa Elena Arteaga here: Community Forum on Responding to Changes to Immigration Policy: Supporting Non-Status, Refugee and Immigrant Women Survivors of Gender Violence

On November 15th 2013, Battered Women’s Support Services hosted a Community Forum on Responding to Changes to Immigration Policy, in partnership with The Migrant Mothers Project and YWCA Metro Vancouver. Over 50 front-line workers, counsellors, settlement workers, and community activists came together to learn and share knowledge. We reinforced our commitment to continue our collaboration and to increase our networks so we can affect change and attend to the inequalities that migrant women face within Canada’s economic, social, legal and political systems. Inequalities that, more than often, deny basic rights to migrant women and their families. Read full article…

Immigration Policy Community ForumDownload the poster here.

Battered Women’s Support Services responded to over 10,000 crisis calls from women and girls to get help and end violence in 2012. We could not provide this essential support without your contribution.



This blog was updated on December 23, 2013.