Event Recordings:

Panel: Mental Health and Substance Use: Reducing Barriers to Housing

Women and gender-diverse peoples are uniquely vulnerable to structural and systemic barriers to housing. Additional challenges such as mental health and substance use issues can lead to further exclusion from service access. This session will host engaging conversations around effective approaches to take when addressing the complex needs of vulnerable women and gender-diverse people. Subject matter experts will discuss inclusive program models that provide parenting opportunities for women who use substances, reduce barriers to traditional employment for women living with mental illness, and empower women experiencing homelessness through peer mentorship training and support.


    Lisa Rupert (Moderator) Housing Services and Violence Prevention, YWCA Metro Vancouver
    Vanessa Brown (Panelist) Program Manager, Maxxine Wright Shelter, Atira
    Benita Ho (Panelist) Housing Program Manager, Crabtree Corner, YWCA Metro Vancouver
    Michelle Jerome (Panelist) Member and Community Engagement Manager, SEED Program, The Kettle Society
    Wanita Bird (Speaker)
    Katie Dias (Panelist)
    Denise Penaloza (Panelist) Clinic Supervisor, Maxxine Wright Community Health Centre, Atira Women’s Resource Society

 Creating Housing Stability: Breaking the cycle

Multiple and compounding public system failures drive women and their children into housing instability and homelessness, contributing to intergenerational cycles of homelessness, housing instability, marginalization, and violence.

Women, girls, and gender diverse peoples face unique challenges in attaining housing security and stability. Factors such as poverty and economic inequalities, intimate partner and gender-based violence, and disproportionate childcare responsibilities contribute to cycles of homelessness that can be incredibly difficult to escape.
This engaging panel discussion will bring forward expertise from a range of perspectives. Participants will share personal reflections, effective interventions and policy recommendations that support women and gender diverse peoples to access safe, adequate, and affordable housing.


    Trudi Shymka (Panelist) Associate Executive Director, The Bloom Group
    Crystal William (Panelist) Mental Health and Addictions, Supportive Housing, Cariboo Friendship Society
    Rhonda Surette (Panelist) Outreach Worker, Chiwid Transition House, Cariboo Friendship Society
    Amanda Trotter (Panelist) Executive Director, Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society
    Lisa Jewell (Panelist) Outreach and Housing Coordinator, Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society
    Alice Munro (Speaker) Storyteller, Artist, Elder, and REACH Board Member
    Tamara Garreau (Moderator) Social Programs Supervisor, Cariboo Friendship Society


 Cedar Blankets Project


The Cedar Blankets initiative is a 5-year pilot project funded by Women and Gender Equity Canada aimed at reducing barriers for Indigenous women and their children accessing transition houses and safe homes. Informed by the lessons learned through BCSTH’s Increasing Access for Aboriginal Women, Cedar Blankets assists transition houses and safe homes to develop culturally safe spaces and practices. Through a women and children centred framework, Cedar Blanket’s wraparound service delivery model supports Indigenous women and children and promotes meaningful stays at the houses for the healing for Indigenous gender-based violence survivors.

Join this session to learn more about project highlights including Cedar Blanket’s service delivery model, Indigenous women centred care and creating safe spaces, and some of the shifting local, regional, Provincial and National landscapes.


    Asia McLean (Moderator) Training Coordinator, BCSTH
    Cori Kleisinger (Speaker) Project Coordinator, BC Society of Transition Houses - Vancouver, BC


Movement Building in Homelessness: Best practices based on lived expertise

Women’s homelessness is an urgent crisis in Canada, requiring immediate action. Housing insecurity and homelessness for women is largely invisible and women remain profoundly underserved across many systems and services. Women, especially those who are multiply marginalized, face systemic barriers to accessing safe, affordable, and adequate housing.

The Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network (WNHHN) is a collective of diverse women, including those with lived expertise, who are working to eliminate homelessness and housing insecurity for women, girls, and gender-diverse peoples across Canada.

Arlene Hache, Co-Chair of WNHHN will share best and promising practices on preventing and ending women’s homelessness as well as strategies for how BC organizations can help shift the national dialogue around the Right to Housing for women and gender-diverse peoples.


    Arlene Hache (Speaker) Co-Chair., Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network
    Mariam Larson (Moderator) Event Facilitator, HSABC


 Hidden Homelessness: Opportunities for Change

It is widely recognized that Point in Time Counts significantly undercount women’s homelessness and housing insecurity, in part due to the often-hidden nature of their homelessness. Women struggling with homelessness invisibly have limited access to support groups, homeless services, counseling, and safe housing options. In an effort to avoid the shelter system, women and gender diverse peoples often rely on relational, precarious, and dangerous supports to survive.

This informative panel will explore the hidden nature of homelessness for women and gender diverse peoples. Panelists will share reflections on policies and practices that reduce harm and address gaps in services within the Violence Against Women and homelessness sectors.


     Bruk Melles (Panelist) Executive Director, Operations, Atira Women’s Resource Society

     Mebrat Beyene (Panelist) Executive Director, WISH Drop-in Centre Society

     Lani Brunn (Moderator) Senior Engagement Specialist & Social Planner, CitySpaces Consultin

     Vanessa McKittrick (Panelist) Shelter Manager, Downtown Eastside Women's Centre Emergency Shelter