When Paul Bernardo started attacking women nearly 30 years ago, the Scarborough Women’s Centre (SWC) took a stand.
“What was happening was (Bernardo) was following women off buses and assaulting them. What women started doing was not going out and not participating in the community,” SWC Executive Director Lynda Kosowan said. “So we worked with the police and the TTC to see how to improve women’s safety. We did that by involving real women who use transit and getting their feedback.”
Since then, the SWC has continued to spread awareness about women’s rights.
“We try to make sure they have the self confidence and the awareness to navigate around the community and being aware of dangerous situations,” Kosowan said. “And also to be able to defend themselves when necessary; to know they have the right to be where they are.”
The centre recently received $200,000 in funding from the Government of Canada for its Build Act Change program in collaboration with University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC).
“They chose this program because the Government of Canada is committed to ending violence against women,” MP for Scarborough East—Pickering Corneliu Chisu said.
Kosowan said the Scarborough campus is a great location for the program.
“Our focus is on working with students and employees at the campus to have a conversation about violence against women, to make it okay to talk about that, because sometimes it’s a taboo subject in a lot of ways,” she said. “To find a way that a great place can be even better. That’s the purpose of that project.”
The government recently gave $4 million in funding to 21 organizations around the country that deal with ending violence against women.
“Since 2008, the Government of Canada has approved more than $54 million to address this issue of violence against women,” Chisu said.