Canadian Domestic Violence Center Removes “Women” From Name To Be More Inclusive To “2SLGBTQQIA+” Individuals

Natasha Biase

After announcing a rebrand last month, the Howe Sound Women’s Centre in British Columbia unveiled its new name on September 27 in hopes of being more inclusive to “Two-Spirit, transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse individuals.” The new name, “PearlSpace,” is inspired by the late Pearl Souster, who offered up her own home in Squamish, B.C., to women in crisis in the 1970s.

According to a press release, the decision to remove “gendered language” from the shelter’s name was made in order to be more “inclusive of all Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse individuals impacted by gender-based violence.”

Ashley Oakes, the executive director of the society that runs the Centre, explained in the release that “over the past four years, the organization has been doing intentional work to align our values of feminism, anti-oppression and intersectionality, and de-colonization into all aspects of our work, internally and externally.”

She continued: “This work to align has seen explicit new and emerging commitments to Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Diverse communities and a deepening renewal and revival to the organization’s commitment to Indigenous communities and people of color.”

Reportedly the rebranding process began in 2021 with the help of a “Gender-Diverse Inclusion Committee” which provided guidance on “the needs of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community.”

While the Centre had historically existed to provide support vulnerable women and children in unsafe situations by providing food, shelter, and other resources during and after their stay, the organization’s new constitution has experienced a tone shift since its rebranding.

As of its Annual General Meeting yesterday, the constitution now claims its purpose is to “promote the equality and empowerment of women, children, gender-diverse, nonbinary, Two-Spirit and trans people” by offering them support and transitional housing.

News of the rebrand comes just months after a trans-identified male was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at an “inclusive” women’s shelter in Windsor, Ontario.

According to pro-woman news outlet Reduxx, Desiree Anderson, formerly Cody D’Entremont, allegedly climbed into the victim’s bed and sexually assaulted her.

Similarly, in 2022, a woman reported she was raped by a sex offender at an Ontario-based women’s shelter after he identified as transgender to access the facility. 

Shane Jacob Green told the unnamed shelter he was a woman on August 22, 2022, to get a place to stay. After gaining access, he proceeded to make sexually inappropriate comments to staff and residents and, two days later, was arrested after allegedly raping one of the women.

Currently, there is only one known single-sex shelter in Canada, but after maintaining that its services are exclusively for women, it lost its city funding in 2019.

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