Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto

Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto is the only organization that is dedicated to serving urban Aboriginal women and children in the Greater Toronto Area.Through emergency support as well as life enhancing and cultural programming, we build self-sufficiency and develop collective capacity to make positive change.

Native Women's Resource Centre of TorontoOur Impact Why We Exist

Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto exists to support urban Aboriginal women and their children living in the Greater Toronto Area.  Our work is guided by the Seven Grandfather teachings: Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth. We focus on the four aspects of self: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual, making this a unique service provider model.  

Our support includes emergency assistance through our Advocacy program in assisting women who have been trafficked for sex purposes, working with mothers whose children are in care, finding immediate shelter or appropriate housing, clothing, food bank, and a daily lunch program.  We also work to enhance the life possibilities of our community through our Education and Investing in Women's Futures programs.  In addition we bring families together and support parents and children in our Aboriginal Healthy Babies and Healthy Children's program and our Pimaatisiwin Program.

Culturally we provide a women's beading program, weekly hand drumming, monthly Full Moon ceremonies, an annual Winter Solstice and annual Sisters In Spirit Vigil to honour missing and murdered Aboriginal women and their families.  

We support an average of 100 student trainees and volunteers throughout the year. 

Native Women's Resource Centre of TorontoOur Story What We Do

History of Organization

Over 30 years ago a dedicated group of Aboriginal women recognized the need for a meeting place in Toronto for Aboriginal women to share resources, support one another, and practice their traditional ways. Based on this vision and determination a basement office was opened in 1985 and became affectionately known as “The Pitt.”The Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto (NWRCT) continues to honour the vision of our founders by providing a welcoming atmosphere for all Aboriginal women and their children in the Greater Toronto Area. As a registered charity, we offer life-enhancing resources, cultural ceremonies and teachings, skill development, and programs to build our collective capacity and celebrate our cultures. Our programs fall under five broad categories: Housing and Advocacy, Youth, Parenting, Employment & Education and Culture & Spirit. 

Accolades and Accomplishments

Awards and Achievements

  • Community-based organization for more than 30 years
  • Long-term funding relationships; majority are over 15 years with on-going funding
  • $750 000 in renovations completed in 2012/2013; finished on time and on budget
  • Recipient of the City of Toronto’s Aboriginal Achievement Award in 2012
  • Executive Director is Toronto Community Foundation’s 2013/2014 Vital People Grant recipient 
  • Annual lead organizer in city-wide annual Sisters In Spirit Vigil
  • Host of Toronto's Minaake Awards - celebrating Aboriginal Women and Youth Community Awards

Our Programs How We Do It

14 dedicated staff members, 8 programs, a three story heritage home. 

Our programming enables Aboriginal women to gain self-sufficiency while building our collective capacity to make positive changes in our communities:

• Cultural programs include: Beading classes, Ojibwe language lessons, Women's hand-drumming, Full Moon ceremonies, Ancestor's Feasts, and a Winter Solstice.

• Housing and Advocacy Programs

• Weekly Food bank and daily lunches

• Family Programs

• Education Program

• Youth Council

• Investing in Women’s Futures: employability, entremreneurship and violence prevention support

• Hosting Annual Sisters In Spirit Vigil, Winter Solstice, Minaake Awards

Aboriginal Housing and Support

NWRCT's Housing Program addresses the immediate needs of Aboriginal women who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. We help clients find and keep safe, affordable housing.

Our Housing Program Coordinators advocate alongside our clients when handling issues with landlords, and also work with the larger community to address the issue of homelessness in Toronto.

Through the Housing Program we also provide:

  • daily lunches, weekly brunch
  • private and wheelchair accessible showers
  • free laundry facilities
  • clothing bank and donated items
  • referrals
  • presentations

Funding and Program Partners

NWRCT's Housing Program is generously funded through the City of Toronto's Homelessness Partnering Strategy program and the Aboriginal Labour Force Development Circle.  The Centre recieves clothing donations from Winners and is a member of Furniture Bank. NWRCT works in coordination with other housing programs across the GTA.

Program Impact

On average the Centre's Housing Program has found appropriate housing for approximately 55 homeless and marginally housed women in the Greater Toronto Area. The program approaches access to safe and adequate housing as a cornerstone of healing, health and wellness, and is working with the Aboriginal community and private landlords to address the issue of homelessness.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS and obesity, are unevenly distributed in the population because health is so closely linked to good housing, healthy food, parks and recreational facilities, safe, well-designed neighbourhoods, transportation, educational opportunity, and uncontestably, to income. Lack of income impacts physical and mental health by restricting access to all of the above, and increasing the likelihood of damaged social relationships and isolation." 

Participant Vignette

"When Sarah first came to NWRCT, she was living in and out of shelters and was struggling with an addiction. In working with the Housing Program, Sarah found a place to call her own. She said after moving into her own apartment, sobriety followed soon after, she got a part-time job and she is now living with her daughter for the first time in over two years."

- Housing Coordinator

Aboriginal Healthy Babies Healthy Children

Aboriginal Healthy Babies Program is a voluntary program for mothers who want guidance and support. The program helps Aboriginal families with children 0-6 years of age.

Our AHBHC Program Coordinator helps expecting mothers prepare for their baby, tells them about supports available in their community and provides ongoing guidance on parenting, feeding and baby care. We also run group programming including outings with other mothers, community kitchen, and parenting classes. Childcare is available during programming hours.This program in partnership with other Aboriginal agencies have assisted in reuniting many families with children in care.

Funding and Program Partners

The AHBHC program is funded by the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy and administered by Metis Nation of Ontario.  The program partners with other Centre programs along with many Aboriginal health and wellness providers including: Anishnawbe Health, Native Child and Family Services, and 7th Generation Midwives.

Program Impact

Using an Auntie role within the Centre, we are able to stabalize and assist families with: healthy development, ending isolation, providing friendly home visits, infant massage, case management, and empowerment circles.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Numbers of low-birthweight babies (traditionally linked to poverty and poor maternal health) appear to be increasing in Toronto" 

The AHBHC program exists to ensure all Aboriginal mothers are supported during their pregnancy to make sure they have the education and resources needed to make informed choices that affect the long-term health of their babies and themselves.  

Participant Vignette

"Living in an abusive home with my children, and not having anyone who could understand why I stayed in this relationship, until I walked through the doors of NWRCT, and felt no judgement when sharing my story, only helped me in moving forward, protecting my children, going back to school, and now living independently with my children learning our lost culture. I have 2 weekly visits to the local YMCA with my children, not only am I becoming more healthy physically, but emotionally I am so much stronger and aware of my feelings, needs, and dreams. I am on the path that allows me and my children to live a good life. Thank you to AHBHC for walking with me, and helping me move forward."

- AHBHC client

Nbaakaawin Kwe (Wisdom Woman) Education Program

Nbaakaawin Kwe (Wisdom Woman) Education Program offers one-on-one and group instruction in English, math, workforce literacy and basic computer skills. Individual learning plans and flexible hours enable clients to work at their own pace. Our Learning Centre provides computers, a quiet study area, and tutoring space. Group activities include book and film circles, visits to educational facilities and storytelling.

We meet new clients one-on-one to help them on their learning path. Our staff can assess your needs, design a training plan, and help upgrade clients' academic qualifications through the Centre, or through referrals to GEG and adult credit programs, apprenticeships, or post-secondary institutions.

Funding and Program Partners

The Nbaakaawin Kwe Learning Program is funded through the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.  The program has a long standing partnership with Frontiers College to support a tutor mentorship program.  The program also collaborates with our friends at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education where learners are given the opportunity to have disability assessments developed by experts in the field.

Program Impact

Each year Nbaakaawin Kwe: Native Women’s Learning Centre helps 20-30 Aboriginal women achieve their personal, professional and academic goals along with providing life skills programing and creative writing circles.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Gender gaps persist for workers across occupational classes"

Participant Vignette

My name is Cindy Scott. I attend Nbaakaawin Kwe Education Program Toronto, ON. Let me start with school was not a good experience for me, to boot I was segregated from my class with a learning disability. I didn’t feel normal which blocked my education. Now it took me a lot of courage to go back to school. You see, I got fired from lots of jobs because I couldn’t spell. That just said, my world has open up for more opportunities. Attending the literacy program is giving me self-confidence. It’s like I have a supportive family, they understand my needs, as well as as tutors for the students. WOW! I didn’t know I could do this....But I am actually writing short stories and plays for first time in my life and I am a proud 51 year-old METIS Grandmother. I feel my life is just starting thanks to the Education program.

*update - Cindy went on to win the prestigious Ve'ahavta short writing contest in 2013

What You Can Do

Aboriginal Housing and Support

Activities a donation will support

Financial contributions to our Housing program allow us to purchase furniture and applicances for our clients moving into their new homes. The program also uses funds to purchase emergency hygiene items, warm and size appropriate clothing for our clothing bank, laundry detergent, and shower products.  In the past, we've used small donations to purchase $50.00 gift cards for women moving into their own home for the first time.  The gift cards allow the women to feel independent and empowered to make their own choices. 

Donation impact

Grants made to the Housing and Support program allow us to continue to offer excellence in services to vulnerable Aboriginal women and youth.  On-going annualized funding of this program allows staff and volunteers to assist in the long term needs of our clients by raising their self-sufficiency, confidence, and access to services in a culturally supportive atmosphere.  Full funding support allows every Aboriginal woman and youth an opportunity to find safe housing that will eventually become a home that they will enjoy and invest their future in. 

Aboriginal Healthy Babies Healthy Children

Activities a donation will support

Support within this program would allow program staff to purchase healthy ingrediants to prepare healthy meals for new mothers and mothers who are isolated or marginalized.  Funding allows us to bring young mothers together to reduce loneliness, share common stories, and partake in cultural activities to celebrate our role as mothers, grandmas, and aunties.  Funding also allows us to purchase major gift items for expecting mothers who would otherwise have to do without.  Items include strollers, playpens, and car seats.

Donation impact

Financial contributions will ensure the parenting programs offered at NWRC address both the immediate needs of mother and child, and the long-term support needed to provide tools for the development of nurturing relationships and positive futures for our children.

Nbaakaawin Kwe (Wisdom Woman) Eduation Program

Activities a donation will support

The Education program provides cultural programming as a holistic means of building education and employment skills. Donations allow the education program to offer field trips to our learners to workshops, presentations, and performances within Toronto.  This program also provides storytelling once a year to help women find their voices, share their experiences, and write about what they've learned. 

Donation impact

Donations to the Education program ensure that all Aboriginal women and youth have an opportunity to become active citizens within Toronto.  The literacy program builds the self esteem of women and encourages them to vote, advocate for their rights and build their own financial literacy.  The confidence that comes with building educational and employment skills leads to positive role modeling for our children, grandchildren and community members.

Contact

Crystal Basi
Executive Director
416.963.9963 x226
Charitable Number: 103838223RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 954,235

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