“The history of North York Women’s Shelter is a history of people who care, a history of individuals with drive and determination, of people fighting for a cause they know is right, a cause well worth fighting for.”
These were the words of Reta Duenish, the shelter’s first president, who was a survivor of abuse and a life long activist who faced up to her pain so others could live without violence.
The project to get a women’s shelter in North York began in 1980 when the women’s services committee of North York Inter Agency Council started proceedings to incorporate an organization to start a shelter. Reports from two North York hospitals which said they treat four or five cases of battered women a week was the catalyst for the creation of the project.
Since September of 1984 NYWS has been in operation 24-hours a day, 365 days a year and is able to accommodate 30 women and children at any given time. For 35 years NYWS has been a place of healing, empowerment and refuge. NYWS has been able to help over 11,000 women and children heal from the trauma of abuse.
In 2017, after a rigorous and competitive application process, North York Women’s Shelter was successful in securing $8.84 million in capital funding for the rebuilding of North York Women’s Shelter. The HER Build began later that year and is slated to be completed in late 2019. The new 24,000-square-foot anti-violence centre includes a community services hub and an emergency shelter with 17 bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and capacity to house up to 40 women and children. To learn more about the HER Build and see construction progress, click HERE
As our understanding of violence against women continues to evolve, we recognize that the needs of our residents have shifted and grown; demanding a more complex, evidence-based and holistic response from us as an organization and as a society. From this day forward, we work to renew our efforts to serve women and children in a productive, supportive and impactful way.