NOWC staff 2023

NOWC Staff, April 2023

Northwestern Ontario Women's Centre

  • Date of formation: Spring 1973
  • Date of incorporation: January 6, 1976
  • Accomplishments related to: Thunder Bay Good Food Box Program, Thunder Bay Women’s Court Watch Program, 40 Fabulous Feminists & Amazing Activists of NWO, ESD NOW: Women’s Empowered Self-Defence, Honouring Our Stories, Art of Resistance Conference, Gender-Based Violence High-Risk Protocol, Analysis to Action on Gender-Based Violence (AAGBV)
  • Major affiliations: Thunder Bay and District Coordinating Committee to End Woman Abuse, Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)


The Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre (NOWC) has championed access to justice for women in Thunder Bay and District since 1973, providing advocacy, support, training, and legal education on gender-based violence, poverty, and the human rights of women and children. They assist women and gender-diverse people to navigate concerns of violence, poverty, human rights, and systemic legal or administrative barriers. Their mandate also includes public presentations on modern legal and social issues facing women from a feminist perspective, to bring their voices forward in action and advocacy efforts.

Founded in Thunder Bay in the spring of 1973 following the Northern Women’s Conference, and once known as the Northern Women’s Centre, multiple groups and projects have originated from the collective organizing efforts of the NOWC. Initiatives that originated within or stemmed from the NOWC include:

  • Back to our Radical Roots
  • Interweave Provincial Women’s Centres Conference and subsequent core funding lobby
  • NOWAG (Northwestern Ontario Women’s Action Group)
  • Run to Win (women in politics)
  • Thunder Bay Rape and Sexual Assault Centre (later known as the Thunder Bay Sexual Abuse Centre)
  • Thunder Bay Coalition Against Poverty (now Poverty-Free Thunder Bay)
  • Women Against Violence Conference
  • Women’s Credit Union
  • Who Pays for Poverty
  • Wings of Resistance Theatre Group

From participating in attempts to amend the federal Divorce Act laws to leading collaborative responses to gender-based and intimate partner violence, the NOWC is a feminist leader in coordinating action with allied groups and furthering equity and safety. Since inception, NOWC has recognized the need to address sexism and racism and provide a positive space for 2SLGBTQ+ people. The NOWC learns from and works alongside Indigenous and other equality-seeking organizations, partnering to serve self-identified women, Two Spirit and non-binary people of all ages, ethnicities, cultures, abilities, orientations, citizenship status and income levels. Their efforts to connect and empower local women is embodied in their community-engaged arts projects, including ‘Honouring Our Stories’ and ‘the Art of Resistance’, and other self-published works which include manuals and biographies1.

Recognizing their 50th anniversary in 2023, the NOWC continues to engage in community outreach, craftivism, public education efforts, to promote systemic change, and to provide a safe space for all self-identified women to gather, share creative strategies, and be their own best advocates.

 Text on scrapbook page: Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre, 316 Bay Street, Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 1S1. Contact: Noreen or Leni (807) 345-7802.  Provides counselling, referrals and encouragement to women dealing with the many problems and needs peculiar to them. Improved the status of women in the whole community. An umbrella organization for: Northern Women’s Credit Union, Norther Woman Journal, Raps and Sexual Assault Centre, Resource Library, Crisis Homes Inc.
316 Bay Street, 1970s Location

Northern Women's Conference 1973 - photos and images of news clips. Text reads: Q. As you know, the first Northern Women’s Conference was held in Thunder Bay, Ont., in April. We are very pleased with the results and would be grateful if you would put some information about us in your column.   A. With pleasure. That was the best conference I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot. One of the things I really liked was the casual atmosphere. The organizers had a good general idea of what the purpose was and then played it very much by ear. Overly organized and super-jammed-with-activities conferences usually don’t work very well. The women in Thunder Bay are now trying to organize a Women’s Centre (they need money) – already, they have 16 consciousness-raising groups for women and several upcoming ones for men; they have useful committees, Women for Political Action, study groups, groups on separation and divorce, sex roles in school, day care, etc. They’re even planning to put out a “Conference Cookbook” (i.e., easy cooking for large groups) to raise money for the centre. Yes, they did all the cooking for the conference after a local college cafeteria pulled out at the last moment. As you can see, they’re very enterprising. Write them at: Homan and Welfare Rights Project, 415 Victoria, Suite 19, Thunder Bay South, Ont.  Bonnie Kreps Send you questions to Hotline On Women, Chatelaine, 481 University Avenue, Toronto M5W 1A7 to be answered in this column. We regret we cannot supply individual answers or return material to correspondents.

Northern Women's Conference, 1973

Submitted by the Northwestern Ontario Women's Centre


1: 40 Fabulous Feminists & Amazing Activists of NWO, 2016 (available at Thunder Bay Public Library)

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