The following is the Shared Vision for the Women’s Centre created by the Bread & Roses Collective. It describes a future vision, including options for change and collaboration.
The Shared Vision
The Nelson & District Women’s Centre is a physical space, a 1901 house near downtown Nelson. The house was purchased in 1995, providing a permanent home for the Centre which had occupied several rental spaces since 1973. Many women and men worked hard to raise the funds to buy the house, to provide a centre for all women.
Our Vision for the Centre is that it is a social space, a welcoming women-only place. Walking through the door brings a feeling of being at home in a warm and bustling atmosphere. The Centre is a place to make new friends or converse with old ones, or to sit and relax alone. A place to take refuge and seek advice or resources; a place to plan festivals, use the computers or read about community services for women. The kitchen is always busy, soup simmering or tea brewing. Free food and clothes are available. The women’s library is well-stocked.
The Centre is a creative space, where arts and crafts are practiced, where beautiful protest posters are made, where the words and music of women are heard, and their faces seen. Regular events celebrate all of this creativity.
The Centre is a learning and action space. Feminism, a commitment to women’s equality,choice and safety, underlies all that happens here. Speakers, workshops, and well-facilitated discussions deepen understanding of women’s challenges, both locally and globally. Leadership skills blossom. Organizing for positive change in women’s lives is central, as is outreach to the community and other groups.
The Centre is where the personal meets the political. While making soup, women’s poverty is discussed and actions to raise community awareness are planned. While sorting through donated clothing, the idea of a social enterprise is born, jobs for women. One woman’s story of violence at home becomes a collective of women who seek ways to support her and others like her, and to take action against the plague of violence against women.
The Centre is a place that focuses on women and holds women at its heart. All women, regardless of age or economic, ethnic, cultural or political background, are welcome and included. Women continue to suffer sex-based inequality and the Centre is still needed to offer shelter, education and action against the barriers that exist in most women’s daily lives. Lower wages, job discrimination, feminine stereotypes, poverty, violence and racism all intersect as women’s issues at the Centre.
In this Shared Vision, the Centre is operated by a well-run non-profit society, the West Kootenay Women’s Association. Women hold leadership roles as board members, staff, volunteers and members. The society is fully compliant with the BC Societies Act and the Canada Revenue Agency (to protect its charitable status). The society always acts in accordance with its constitution, bylaws and policies. Those documents are regularly reviewed, updated, and filed as required.
The operations of the Centre are accountable and open. Reports and documents are availableto members on request. Members are welcome to attend meetings of the Coordinating Collective (comprised of elected directors and some staff).
Changes to the mandate of the Centre are brought to the membership for robust and respectful discussion before action is taken, in accordance with democratic principles. The board is comprised of diverse women, elected by the membership to reflect the diversity of the women’s community. Funding is sought for programs and initiatives that focus on women.
While the primary purpose of the Centre is a space for women, other independent users maybe accommodated when space is available. The mandate of the Centre also includes building alliances with other individuals or groups who experience injustice, such as violence and discrimination, just as feminists have always done.
The home of the Women’s Centre is well-cared for and maintained as a valuable asset that belongs to hundreds of women, past, present and future. The Centre is a place to honour herstory.
The above statements are consistent with the Constitution of the West Kootenay Women’sAssociation and reflect our vision for the Nelson & District Women’s Centre and our commitment to bringing the vision to reality.