Community Partner Spotlight: Native Women’s Centre
Before the winter break, the Civic Engagement Student Success Leaders’ ran a food drive for the Native Women’s Centre. It was a huge success, all thanks to the community of McMaster! At the end, there were about 2 big boxes of donated items given to the NWC (about $120 worth of donations)!
As promised before, this is an interview with the executive director of the NWC, explaining what the NWC does in the Hamilton community; how they started, and how you can get involved.By getting involved, we are contributing to the growth of our community, while enriching our knowledge of other cultures and communities. Remember that there are many ways to get involved; find something that you like and are passionate about, then go for it! But without further ado, here is the interview with the executive director of the NWC:
PTB: Tell me about the history of the Native Women’s Centre.
NWC: The Native Women’s Centre (NWC) began about 40 years ago, and was incorporated in 1976. It is a non-for-profit organization, more specifically a chapter for the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA). The Centre originally started as a transitional housing, then transformed into a Centre that provided more services to the nearby communities. In the current location, the Centre now primarily provides emergency shelter for women fleeing domestic violence. In addition, this chapter is a satellite location, offering outreach programs that assist Native parents with young children (i.e. babies) following the same mandate as the NWC.
PTB: What role does the Centre play in the Hamilton community?
NWC: The Centre provides assistance to Native families in the Hamilton area by identifying their needs, advocating on their behalf, and establishing programs and services to meet their needs. The programs that the Centre provides are developed based out of their transitional housing, by helping and establishing a network of support, as well as finding housing. Although, the Centre primarily serves the Indigenous community in Hamilton, they also serve many individuals from the nearby six nation’s reserve. Housing services are difficult for Native people to access in Hamilton, majority of the available services are targeted towards newcomers.
PTB: What are some of the issues that the Indigenous community in Hamilton is facing?
NWC: Some of the issues that the Indigenous community are facing in Hamilton include:
- Housing in general (especially affordable housing)
- Food security: poverty and food security go hand-in-hand, as well as homelessness and vice versa
- Youth homelessness: many of the Centre’s clients are indigenous youth
PTB: What does civic engagement mean to you?
NWC: I feel that if individuals would be more engaged in citizen based experience through volunteering, sitting on boards, committees then there will be a greater understanding of community issues, trends, and ways to improve and engage the voices of 2nd stage leadership, voices in marginalized community and groups. Also when working in social service sector this would benefit as well.
PTB: What advice do you have for someone wanting to get involved in their community?
NWC: Get out there and volunteer. One option is student placements through your current program, or just doing volunteer hours. Volunteer in other fields, as they can give you a varied experience and are applicable to almost all kinds of work. There are many different areas of where one could volunteer in (e.g. working with children and youth); in addition, there is a need for volunteers in every field. In terms of the NWC, it is a small non-profit organization, so students can experience a little bit of everything as volunteers. In addition, the NWC does many student placements with students from McMaster University and Mohawk College.
(Thanks for reading, and stayed tuned for more articles about all things Hamilton from Pop The Bubble!)