Statement from St. John’s Status of Women Council Board of Directors

“In the midst of the ongoing dialogue, the Board would like to affirm and amplify its position on advocacy in our community… We stand alongside fellow community partners who speak truth to power, who seek justice and equity, because only together can we achieve these goals… We echo the statement released yesterday by First Light and call for the complete dismantling of systems of colonial oppression. We support their calls for a civilian body of police oversight and for the allocation of the necessary time, talent and resources to the crisis of gender-based violence in our province.”

Please read full statement here:

Statement from SJSOW Board of Directors Oct 23, 2019

For Immediate Release

The St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre is a feminist organization that since 1972 is continually working to achieve equality and justice through political activism, community collaboration and the creation of a safe and inclusive space for all women in the St. John’s area.

Through our front-line work, we see firsthand how laws can oppress and cause harm to women who are Indigenous, women who are transgender and queer, women who are engaged in sex work, women experiencing homelessness, women engaged in drug use, women who have survived violence, and many of society’s most marginalized, criminalized and vulnerable women. The St. John’s Status of Women Council has and will continue to advocate for law reforms that protect those we serve and promote equity and equality for all.

In response to concerns raised by recent investigatory reporting, we submit the following letter to the Office of the Status of Women and also ask for a meeting with Police Chief Boland to discuss SHOP and specific actions police could take to begin to repair harm and prioritize the needs of trust and safety in any collaborative work moving forward. Althought the investigatory reporting did focus on one individual, we are more concerned with the broader issues of the targeting of our SHOP program and the devaluing of their work.

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Laura Winters, Executive Director, St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre; laura@sjwomenscentre.ca;  (709)753-0220 or (709)765-4434

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October 17, 2019

Dear Hon. Carol Anne Haley,

We are writing with a request on behalf of SHOP (the Safe Harbour Outreach Project), a program of the St. John’s Status of Women Council. As you are aware, our organization works from the pillars of feminism, anti-oppression, trauma-informed care and harm reduction. Our work is deeply rooted in the understanding that all women deserve equitable access to safety, services and supports that meet their individual needs.

Unfortunately, a recent piece of investigatory journalism has revealed back room comments which we believe fly in the face of these principles and the mandate of your Office for the Status of Women in the advancement of true social, legal, cultural and economic equality for all women in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador. The specific targeting of the SHOP program has led to feelings of vulnerability and caused deep harm within our community. In many ways, the statements made by government representatives devalue the exceptional work of SHOP, further stigmatize sex working women and survivors and run counter to the pillars of our shared goals as stated above.

Through our front-line work, we see firsthand how laws can oppress and cause harm to women who are Indigenous, women who are transgender and queer, women who are engaged in sex work, women experiencing homelessness, women engaged in drug use, women who have survived violence, and many of society’s most marginalized, criminalized and vulnerable women. The St. John’s Status of Women Council has and will continue to advocate for law reforms that protect those we serve and promote equity and equality for all.

Along with its advocacy work, SHOP is unique in our province in that it provides supports and services to women along a continuum of sex industry involvement, including those who have experienced sexual exploitation, those engaged in survival sex, and those who do sex work. The women SHOP supports are among the most under-served by the systems in our province, and every day we focus on participants and we provide them with services and supports on a limited budget, and despite being under-staffed and under-resourced.

What SHOP and the women we serve need more than an apology for these comments is a firm commitment to the services we provide and secure operating funding. We ask that you show support for the work of SHOP by committing to increased funding for SHOP and by bringing SHOP under the same multi-year funding agreement that has been established for many other community groups, including all Status of Women Councils, in our province. We ask that your government show your commitment to the advancement of true social, legal, cultural and economic equality for all women, including the most vulnerable in our society by providing financial and operational stability for SHOP. This would be a tangible way to begin to repair the harm caused by statements which we hope do not represent the views of the Office for the Status of Women.

The instalment of sustainable funding would send a message to current and former sex workers and survivors, many of whom are SHOP participants, that they are valued, deserving of equitable support and self-determination, and included in the fight for women’s advancements by the Office for the Status of Women. It would communicate that you are committed to rebuilding relationships of trust with a community left feeling minimized, silenced and targeted, and would show support for what we know are our shared values around the inherent worth of all women in this province.

We thank you for your time and await your response.

Laura Winters

Executive Director, St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre

Caitlin Urquhart

Board Chair, St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre

 

Cc: Ball & Parsons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Immediate Release: Sisters In Spirit Vigil Oct. 4

For Immediate Release

Sept 24, 2019

Sisters in Spirit Vigil for Murdered and Missing Women and Girls.

First Light and The St. John’s Status of Women Council (SJSWC) have partnered for this year’s Sisters in Spirit Vigil for Missing and Murdered Women and Girls (formerly “In Her Name”). There will be various events and opportunities for healing and support during the week of Sept 30 leading up to the Sisters in Spirit Vigil which will take place on Oct. 4th.

Through multiple consultation sessions it was identified that although the previous In Her Name Vigil was an important event, there was a strong desire for additional opportunities to come together and receive support. A committee of community members, partners, staff and elders have redesigned the event. The week-long event will include smaller groups, opportunities to sit and reflect, a focus on loved ones’ lives, a quiet space to share stories with supports, and the incorporation of Indigenous ceremony.

As in previous years, all events are open to the public, but we are especially interested to connect with the families and friends of women who have been murdered or are missing in the province. If you are a family member of a missing or murdered woman, and you would like to participate in any aspect of the Sisters in Spirit events listed above, including speaking at the vigil, we are asking family members to please reach out to Michelle at First Light, or Laura at SJSWC (contacts below).

This week is happening with the support of other partners, including the Aboriginal Community Liaison at Correctional Services Canada, Memorial University Aboriginal Resource Office as well as members of the local community. We look forward to sharing this renewed event incorporating a strong sense of Indigenous ceremony and tradition with all those in attendance.

Please find the schedule for the week on First Light and SJSOWC social media.

For Further Information Contact:

Laura Winters

Executive Director: SJSOWC

Tel: 765-4434 or 753-0220

Email: laura@sjwomenscentre.ca

 

Michelle Corbett

Cultural Support Team Coordinator: First Light

Tel: 726-5902

Email: michelle@firstlightnl.ca

SIS news release Sept 2019

PANSOW Announces Request for Proposals

PANSOW, the Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women, are calling all feminists! We are searching for a qualified person to take on the project of developing a feminist, trauma-informed guide to conflict mediation. A how-to guide for community and government on finding resolution from a feminist lens. Please see attached pdf for all info. We look forward to hearing from you!

PANSOW RFP

For Immediate Release: St. John’s Status of Women Council Welcomes New Executive Director

St. John’s, NL – The St. John’s Status of Women Council (SJSWC) is pleased to announce that Laura Winters will be stepping into the role of executive director on Monday, June 3, 2019.

Laura is a community worker, activist and researcher, who is near completion of her PhD in sociology at the University of New Brunswick and holds a BA (Honours) and MA from Memorial University. Her work is grounded in the power of harm reduction, the importance of trauma informed care, and the prioritization of lived experience. She has been privileged to be let into the lives of many women through her front-line work with the SJSWC’s own Safe Harbour Outreach Project (SHOP), her program work at Iris Kirby House, and as System Coordinator for End Homelessness St. John’s. She brings strong feminist values, community capacity building and tremendous openness and integrity as core components of her leadership. In her spare time, Laura runs a small pottery business and can often be found enjoying time in the woods with her partner and two huskies.

The SJSWC Board of Directors and staff team welcome Laura to the role and look forward to working with her to continue to support the wide range of services our organization provides to women in our community.

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Media Contact
Robyn Pike
Development and Communications Coordinator
St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre
Tel. 709.753.0220
robyn@sjwomenscentre.ca

About St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre
The St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre is a feminist organization that since 1972 is continually working to achieve equality and justice through political activism, community collaboration and the creation of a safe and inclusive space for all women in the St. John’s area. The St. John’s Status of Women Council operates the Women’s Centre, Marguerite’s Place Supportive Housing Program and the Safe Harbour Outreach Project.

For Immediate Release: Provincial Parties Respond to PANSOW’s 2019 Election Questionnaire

In the run-up to the provincial election on May 16, 2019, the Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) collaboratively designed a questionnaire for the four party leaders to address concerns that are relevant to women and their families.

The questions focused on nine issues including women’s leadership, violence against women and girls, childcare, and pay equity.

“It is vital that voters understand the party stances on the issues,” said Paula Sheppard Thibeau, Co-Chair, Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women and Executive Director, Corner Brook Status of Women Council. “The election’s quick turnaround time has not allowed everyone to become familiar with the candidates and the issues. We hope that in gathering these party responses we are able to help voters feel informed on issues of relevance to them.”

To view the party responses, open the PDFs below.

Women in Government
Poverty
Economic Equality
Violence
Healthcare
Childcare
Funding
Women in Prison

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Media Contacts
Paula Sheppard Thibeau
Co-Chair, Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women
Executive Director, Corner Brook Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.639.8522
cbwomenscentre@gmail.com

Janice Kennedy
Executive Director, Bay St. George Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.643.4444
executivedirector.bsgswc@gmail.com

About PANSOW
PANSOW applies a provincial lens to issues of equality and ensure a public voice for women from a non-partisan, grassroots, and feminist perspective. PANSOW consists of the Executive Directors of all eight Status of Women councils in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW’s mandate is two-fold: To educate and build awareness on broad issues related to gender equity and justice in the province; and to advocate for change in government policy and legislation that facilitates gender equity and justice.

We’re HIRING: Executive Director

The St. John’s Status of Women Council and the St. John’s Women’s Centre are seeking a dynamic and transformative leader as its Executive Director. The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors and is chiefly responsible for achieving our mandate, goals and objectives and working with the Board on long term vision and direction for programs and services. The successful candidate will have a deep background working with feminist organizations and demonstrated experience with organizational and community collaboration/capacity building, as well as a strong understanding of feminist/gender analysis and trauma informed practice.

You are a successful leader with a relevant combination of education and experience. With strong people management skills including coaching, mentorship and supervision, you also understand budgeting and financial management and have managed organizations with robust budgets. As well, you’re a natural communicator who demonstrates a collaborative and engaging leadership style. Other areas of focus for this role include fund development; proposal writing; education and advocacy; property management; policy development; media relations; proficiency with social media; and non-profit board governance.

If you’re interested in the role, please submit your resume and cover letter to the Selection Committee of the Board via email: sheila@sjwomenscentre.ca. Deadline for application is April 13, 2019.

For Immediate Release: SJSWC/WC Announces Resignation of Executive Director

(St. John’s, NL) – The Board of Directors of the St. John’s Status of Women Council and St. John’s Women’s Centre announced today that Jenny Wright has resigned from her role as Executive Director of the organizations to move on to other opportunities.

“The Board would like to thank Jenny for her contribution as Executive Director for the past five years,” said Mary Shortall, Board Chair. “She has been instrumental in representing the interests of women in St. John’s and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. She was a powerful voice for so many issues like violence against women and girls; the rights of sex workers, equal pay for women and so much more. The Board wishes her well in the future.”

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About St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre
The St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre is a feminist organization that since 1972 is continually working to achieve equality and justice through political activism, community collaboration and the creation of a safe and inclusive space for all women in the St. John’s area. The St. John’s Status of Women Council operates the Women’s Centre, Marguerite’s Place Supportive Housing Program & Safe Harbour Outreach Project.

Media Contact:
Robyn Pike
Development and Communications Coordinator
Tel. 709.753.0220
robyn@sjwomenscentre.ca

Statement responding to the NL Corrections & Community Services: Deaths in Custody Review

St. John’s, NL – The St. John’s Status of Women Council supports the findings of the recent Newfoundland and Labrador Corrections and Community Services: Deaths in Custody Review report, including the 17 recommendations therein. We also express our deepest and sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those who have died in Newfoundland and Labrador’s prisons. We continue to send our support to the women currently incarcerated across our province, and the staff within these institutions.

As a frontline women’s serving organization supporting women before, throughout, and after their experiences with the criminal justice system in our province, we are deeply concerned for the well-being, safety, and human rights of women who are incarcerated in our prisons. We know that most incarcerated women are women living below the poverty line, women dealing with homelessness and unstable, unsafe housing, women who are Indigenous, women who have untreated mental health and addictions, and women who have experienced sexual and physical violence. We have come to see the impacts of our province sending some of our most marginalized women to chronically overcrowded and under-resourced prisons.

Women are being incarcerated at alarming rates. In Newfoundland and Labrador between 2008-2016, the number of incarcerated women has increased by 64 per cent. Indigenous women are the fastest growing prison population in Canada. We recognize the longstanding impacts that women from Labrador are facing when removed from their communities and families, while not being offered adequate culturally appropriate supports and traditional medicines throughout the criminal justice system.

Prisons require adequate health care. This means comprehensive and trauma-informed health care, including psychiatric treatment and mental health care – both proactive and crisis response care, acute care, and supportive reproductive health care. The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled solitary confinement as unconstitutional, recognizing that it has been used to discriminately target Indigenous people and people living with mental illness. Solitary confinement should not be used as mental health care or crisis response practice in our province’s prisons.

To begin to truly engage the fundamental changes need in our criminal justice system, we must learn from criminalized women and their families, listening to their needs, and advocating for better futures for all of them:

“As a former inmate in Clarenville and NOVA, I think this report in itself is well written and well put together, however it’s nothing that hasn’t already been said about prisons in NL. It’s nothing that Decades of Darkness didn’t already report in 2008. These recommendations are nothing new – it all comes back down to having the Government actually implement recommendations and changes.

Building new facilities and new sections onto existing buildings here looks fine and dandy as a media moment but ultimately, it’s not about the buildings, it’s about what is happening inside of them and the resources that do and do not exist for us in there. I was like the majority of women in Clarenville when I was an inmate there, and had already been sexually assaulted, survived domestic violence, and had experienced trauma throughout my life. We do not need more corrections we need trained counsellors who specialized in trauma, we need social workers who understand addictions and their root causes, we need mental health advocates, we need psychiatry and basic healthcare that is compassionate, comprehensive and follows best-practice instead of punitive-practice.”

– Formerly incarcerated woman from NL, speaking to SJSWC staff this week

Beyond addressing the dire conditions within our province’s prisons, we believe our government should be directly facing issues of unaffordable housing, poverty, and the lack of available mental health and addictions services. Vast and immediate changes must happen both inside and outside of prisons and must be conducted in partnership with frontline organizations and services supporting criminalized women before, during, and after incarceration. The creation of a women’s Justice Support Worker position, which we have proposed to the Department of Justice and Public Safety, is one important step towards providing greater supports for women in our criminal justice system.

Prisons must be a place where rehabilitation can begin, where options can be accessible, where even hope and healing can grow. The recent deaths of several vulnerable people in prisons in our province demonstrates that this was not their experience.

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Media Contact
Robyn Pike
Development and Communications Coordinator
St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre
Tel. 709.753.0220
robyn@sjwomenscentre.ca

About St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre
The St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre is a feminist organization that since 1972 is continually working to achieve equality and justice through political activism, community collaboration and the creation of a safe and inclusive space for all women in the St. John’s area. The St. John’s Status of Women Council operates the Women’s Centre, Marguerite’s Place Supportive Housing Program and the Safe Harbour Outreach Project.

RECRUITMENT TO BE PART OF A RESEARCH STUDY

Posted on behalf of POST – Photographing Our Stories Together

This project explores the life experiences of women who engage in sex work in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We define “women who engage in sex work” as women or Trans* women who are working in the sex industry, who are 18 years or older, and receives money or goods for sexual services.

We are looking for women who have engaged in sex work for at least 6 months and:
– Live or work in or around St. John’s, NL
– Live or work in or around Stephenville, NL
– Live or work in or around Corner Brook, NL

If this is you, we would like to invite you to take part in this community-based study working with the St. John’s Women’s Centre, the Corner Brook Women’s Centre, and the Bay of St. George Women’s Centre. In this study, participants will be asked to take photographs that represent their experiences, and the different personal and social factors that impact their lives. Participants will discuss their images and create a photograph exhibit, which will be shared online. Participants will decide which photos to include in the exhibit, and the research team will also study the online reception of the exhibit.

For this study, participants are asked to take part in one individual interview and two group meetings. The individual interview will last 60-90 minutes and the group meetings will last 2.5-3 hours. Participants will receive a $50 gift card for the individual interview and $50 gift card for each group meeting as compensation for their time. All participants will also receive a digital camera.

Location
For participants who live or work in or around St. John’s: The St. John’s Women’s Centre
For participants who live or work in or around Stephenville and Corner Brook: The Corner Brook Women’s Centre or the Bay of St. George Women’s Centre (dependent on the location of participants)

Participation is completely voluntary. All interviews will take place over a 2-month period. Interviews will start depending on participant availability.

Precautions will be taken to ensure high levels of confidentiality are in place for all participants. The decision to participate, or not, will not affect any services women may be accessing at the Women’s Centres.

For more information about this study, please call 1-833-220-8700 (toll-free) or contact:
Kathleen Sitter, PhD
Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary
403-220-4573
Photostories18@gmail.com

The University of Calgary Conjoint Faculties Research Ethics Board has approved this research study

This project has received secondary review and approval by Memorial University’s Interdisciplinary Committee on Ethics in Human Research (ICEHR) and the Grenfell Campus Research Ethics Board (CG-REB)