How We Got Started
Community Women’s Initiative originated from COVID-19 Women’s Initiative - a non-profit organization that supported Canadian women in challenging circumstances due to the pandemic. An increase in gender-based violence paralleled the pandemic, and to further exacerbate the situation, the social distancing measures in place resulted in many individuals being bound to the same home as their abuser.
Two medical students from the University of Toronto, Karlee Searle and Aman Dhaliwal, recognized the hardship that women across Canada were facing and founded COVID-19 Women’s Initiative in March, 2020. As the number of COVID-19 cases rose exponentially, their initiative quickly gained momentum in Toronto and spread to five other cities across Canada, including Vancouver. Although COVID-19 Women’s Initiative stopped operating in October 2020, various projects that were started by COVID-19 Women’s Initiative have been continued through organizations like ours in cities across Canada.
The Vancouver division of the COVID-19 Women's Initiative was run by our original six executives who developed strong connections with women’s shelters, recovery houses, businesses, and other non-profit organizations in the Vancouver area. After hosting a successful item drive across the Lower Mainland and making many meaningful relationships with women, they recognized that their community's needs existed beyond the pandemic. They decided to continue their efforts longitudinally under the name Community Womxn’s Initiative.
In May of 2021, we changed our name from 'Community Womxn's Initiative' to 'Community Women's Initiative'. We made this change due to discussions and concerns brought up within our community regarding the use of 'womxn' as a form of trans-exclusionary practice. As our goal is to promote equity, opportunity and safety for all in challenging circumstances we hope that this change will help us towards our goal of increased inclusivity in our ventures.