Province, City announce new initiatives to support safer public spaces for women and girls

Released: September 30, 2016 at 12:01 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB - A Manitoba government and City of Winnipeg partnership is launching a number of new initiatives to support safer public spaces for women, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for the status of women, and Cindy Gilroy, city councillor for Daniel McIntyre, announced today.

“Every woman has the right to enjoy public spaces without fear of being sexually harassed or assaulted,” said Squires. “Manitoba’s new government is proud to partner with the City of Winnipeg and our community stakeholders as part of UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces initiative to make Winnipeg’s neighbourhoods safer for all women and girls.”

Winnipeg Safe City is led jointly by Manitoba Status of Women and the City of Winnipeg. Other partners include UN Women, Winnipeg Police Service, University of Winnipeg, Southern Chiefs Organization and other community organizations.

Winnipeg Safe City works with local levels of government, communities and the police to generate innovative approaches to preventing and reducing harassment and sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces, so they can move more safely and exercise their right to enjoy their cities.

Winnipeg Safe City members met today to announce the launch of the Winnipeg Safe City Scoping Study, a comprehensive report that uses national and local data and the voices of local women to describe the experiences and realities of women in Winnipeg. The report will be used to guide the work of the committee going forward, and be a resource to help community agencies and government organizations understand the issue.

“This study is a critical step forward in identifying, researching, and eliminating sexual violence in our city,” said Gilroy. “We look forward to working together with our partners to implement the recommendations of this study and to do everything we can to support safer public spaces.”

Other new initiatives that were announced include:

  • the Winnipeg Safe City website,, which will feature program information, reports and resources for the community;
  • the Winnipeg Transit Request Stop Program, which allows passengers to request a stop between designated bus stops after 7 p.m. and get off the bus closer to their home or desired location; and
  • the Taxicab Passenger Safety for Women brochure, created in partnership with the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, which will be available in six languages (Arabic, Cree, English, French, Ojibway, Tagalog).

The Manitoba government also supports Ka Ni Kanichihk, a member of the Winnipeg Safe City committee, to provide the first Indigenous-led program in Manitoba for Indigenous women and those who identify as women who have experienced sexual assault and sexual violence. The Heart Medicine Lodge program provides culturally based support and advocacy, and services include a 12-week group healing program, support with medical and legal issues related to sexual violence, sharing circles, traditional ceremonies, elder support and links to other community resources.

“Indigenous women and girls are vastly over-represented as victims in their experiences of sexual violence and sexual assault, which significantly impacts our community,” said Rachel Bach, program co-ordinator, Heart Medicine Lodge, Ka Ni Kanichihk. “That’s why we’re so pleased to be a partner in Winnipeg Safe City to offer this culturally based and Indigenous-led program. Together, we can create safer public spaces for all women and girls.”

“Winnipeg’s initiative is admirable, based on hard facts gathered through the scoping study, and a realistic profile of the experience of women and girls in public spaces and public transport,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women. “I commend your first set of agreed measures to work with transport authorities, civil society, Indigenous-led organizations and newcomer communities to ensure safe journeys and safe lives. These measures, and the way in which you have worked collaboratively to find the right solutions, are important lessons for other cities across the world who are working to end sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women.”

Winnipeg was selected as the first city in Canada to join Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces in 2013.

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