Charitable Choices: Sydney Dawson of North Shore Women’s Centre

The North Shore Women’s Centre is a non-profit organization focusing on the care and well-being of women, girls and gender-diverse communities. They provide multiple services and programs towards empowerment, safety and security for these marginalized groups. We spoke with Sydney Dawson, the Fund Development and Communications Coordinator to learn more.

North Shore Women’s Centre

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.

The North Shore Women’s Centre is a non-profit and charitable organization dedicated to advocating for the safety, security, and well-being of women, girls, and gender-diverse individuals on the North Shore. For 50 years we have been providing programming aimed at empowering women of all ages with the knowledge, resources, support, and skills to thrive in the community. We offer a range of free programs and services, from Teen Girls’ Empowerment Camps and Support Groups to Emergency Food and Toiletries and violence prevention training.

What problem does it aim to solve?

Our work strives to improve the social, economic, legal and political status of women, and to encourage and support self-empowerment by acting as a resource and a catalyst for change, from feminist perspectives. The NSWC’s work responds to issues such as gender inequality, gender-based and intimate partner violence, poverty, food insecurity, and empowerment education.

When did you start/join it?

I began working at the NSWC a year ago.

What made you want to get involved?

I was drawn to the NSWC because of its grassroots approach; as an organization with less than 10 employees, I really appreciate how individualized support and relationships with the women who come to our Drop-in Centre are a significant priority. We offer services in English, French, Farsi, and more, which I was also interested in as someone with an educational background in Language and Communication. I appreciated that the organization’s mandate also explicitly includes transgender, non-binary, and Two-Spirit individuals, who are uniquely at risk for many of the issues that the NSWC seeks to combat, yet sometimes marginalized or excluded from support services.

What was the situation like when you started?

When I first started, the NSWC was making efforts to reintegrate programs and services into in-person and hybrid models after transitioning many of our offerings online in response to COVID-19. As a small organization, we were trying hard to raise awareness about the breadth of our programming, which we had been seeking to expand in coordination with COVID safety measures.

How has it changed since?

Since then, we have successfully transitioned the majority of our programs and services back into in-person and hybrid models, and have made great progress in expanding our offerings. We have doubled the number of our Teen Girls’ Empowerment summer camps that will be offered this year, greatly increased the scope of our gender-based violence prevention portfolio through the evidence-based sexual violence prevention training Flip The Script with EAAA™, scaled up our food security programming which now serves upwards of 70 women per distribution day, started offering after-school groups for high-school aged girls, and more.

What more needs to be done?

The expansions to our programming are in response to increased community need; now more than ever, we are seeing that food and housing insecurity, paired with inflation and rising costs of living, is causing women on the North Shore to struggle. Nearly 15% of British Columbians experience marginal, moderate, or severe food insecurity, primarily due to low income, and over the past 12 months, we have distributed more than 3,150 boxes of groceries to the community, rain or shine. Additionally, The Canadian Women’s Foundation has found that by Grade 10, less than 15% of girls identify as being self-confident, and with the increasing presence of social media in the lives of youth, negative messaging about who young girls can/should be is, in many ways, louder than ever. We are seeing that youth need increased empowerment resources in the community which allow them to discuss topics pertinent to their experiences with gender, social norms, growing up, self-image, and the media in safe and supportive settings. We are hard at work making sure that the NSWC can meet these growing needs by adapting our food security programming to accommodate the new numbers we are seeing, expanding our number and variety of teen programming offerings, and educating/raising awareness for these issues and what they mean for the North Shore.

North Shore Women’s Centre

How can our readers help?

We are so grateful for any readers who might wish to help support our work or get involved with the NSWC! Our Emergency Food and Toiletries program is one of our most in-demand services, and the bags we distribute to women in urgent need are stocked entirely by donations from community members. We are always seeking in-kind donations of non-perishable groceries and unused toiletries of all sizes; we have a donation wish list on our website, which details some pantry staples that we rely on! We also gratefully accept monetary donations, which go directly towards supporting our work on the North Shore. Want to get involved in a different way? You can read about our volunteer openings, suggest a workshop, follow us on our social media pages (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) or become a member with voting power on our website!

Do you have any events coming up?

This summer, we are offering 4 sessions of our Teen Girls’ Empowerment summer camps. We will be offering three week-long sessions of this free camp for teens aged 14-17 (Empowerment), and one week-long session for pre-teens aged 10-13 (Fearless). Readers can learn more about it or register today on our website! We also offer free weekly yoga classes on Wednesdays at 12 pm at our Drop-in Resource Centre located at 131 East 2nd St North Vancouver, register today!

Where can we follow you?

We can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

We love North Shore Crisis Services Society and all that they do for women and children fleeing violence on the North Shore, from The Good Stuff Connection clothing program to SAGE Transition House!



About Sabrina Greggain-Lord 34 Articles
My name is Sabrina Greggain-Lord and I am a Community Outreach worker for the Vancouver Guardian. I am passionate about writing and bringing recognition to those doing wonderful work within their communities.