Happy 40th Birthday, DEWC!

Mar 21, 2018

The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre was incorporated on March 21, 1978.

From grassroots beginnings back in the late 60s, serving soup from a household kitchen on Pender Street, the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre has always been rooted in women caring for women. Our constitution from 1978, when we were officially incorporated, still applies today: nurturing and empowering members through a safe, comfortable drop-in, facilitating programs and referrals, providing social and community building space for women of diverse backgrounds, and educating the public and all levels of government on issues concerning women in the Downtown Eastside.

Chinese seniors participate in a march for housing.
The DEWC banner, hand stitched by an Elder, reflects the strong shared roots of the centre in Indigenous and Chinese cultures as befitting the surrounding neighbourhood. Here, Chinese seniors participate in a march for housing.

A crucial place for a community in crisis

These days, hundreds of women access our drop-in centre and emergency shelter every day and night, with number still growing. Safe spaces and service provision for women in the Downtown Eastside remain a rarity, despite endemic violence and persistent calls from the community. In the midst of multiple crises, DEWC remains a haven at ground zero, welcoming women and giving them the resources, support, and foundation they need to empower one another and themselves.

DEWC Sisterhood
One word that encapsulates the drop-in: sisterhood. Another, chosen by long-time member and volunteer Elaine, is “endless” and “possibilities.”

A community worth celebrating!

Throughout our 40th year, we’ll be sharing stories of members, volunteers, and staff, in celebration and honour of our community: a fierce one that continues to survive and thrive despite all odds. Stay tuned!

“My comfort zone and second home

is the DEWC drop-in centre.”–Marie

Give DEWC a birthday gift | Our beloved drop-in centre needs all the help it can get, and every donation goes towards hot meals, basic needs, open doors, and a place of sanctuary and empowerment. Give what you can
Fundraise for DEWC in the Scotiarun | Are you passionate about the DEWC cause? Join us in fundraising in the Scotiabank Half-Marathon & 5K: you don’t have to be a runner, only someone who wants to multiply your impact in raising support for our community. Learn more
Read more about our herstory | These chronicles of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, created painstakingly and with love by DEWC members, document the heart of the centre. Read Reflections and Reflections Part 2.