uOttawa students help improve services to BIPOC women and LGBTQ2+ community

Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies
Faculty of Social Sciences

By Bernard Rizk

Media Relations Officer, External Relations, University Of Ottawa

CityStudio Ottawa is a partnership between the City of Ottawa and the University of Ottawa focusing on the six priorities identified under the Community Safety and Well-Being (CSWB) Plan approved by Ottawa city council in 2021.

Students enrolled in the Anti-Colonial and Anti-Racist Feminisms course taught by Professor Radamis Zaky at uOttawa took part in a project connected to the gender-based violence and violence against women priority. The goal was to better understand current services available to BIPOC women and the LGBTQ2+ community experiencing forms of violence and to help members gain equitable access to these services.

The class was divided into five groups. Each focused on ways to reduce gaps in terms of policies, budgets and programs available to racialized women and LGBTQ2+ community members who experience sexual and gender-based violence.

At the end of the term, three groups were selected to participate in the Venture Initiative Social Innovation Pitch Competition, one of which received a prize for finishing second to help take their social impact venture to the next level.

This group was comprised of Sandra Gallant, Lindsay Mackenzie, Megan Trower, Shelby Myers, and Julietta Alfonsi. Their work involved breaking down resources needed by Indigenous women trying to escape intimate partner violence into a five-stage cycle, namely, pre-incident, transition to shelter, leaving shelter, rehabilitation, and legal assistance.  

This collaboration showed how education can be turned into practical work that benefits the community, in this case by removing barriers to BIPOC and marginalized women gaining equitable access to critical social support and culturally relevant services. By identifying these barriers, the project can help develop solutions to them for these groups.

This type of collaboration enhances the postsecondary education experience for students. It helps students be more involved in their community, provides opportunities for them to engage in community-based learning and encourages them to participate in research that addresses the needs of underrepresented communities.

Overall, the goal of the Anti-Colonial and Anti-Racist Feminisms course is to teach students how to live and create an inclusive, equitable environment where everyone can thrive, regardless of their background or identity. It also helps them to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become active, engaged citizens contributing to a more inclusive society.