Funded directly by the University of Calgary, the Women’s Resource Centre located at the university is an organizational centre put in place to aid women, and others, in finding resources they need, or want.
For years, and even more recently, most women and women-presenting individuals across the globe have lacked the necessary resources to equip themselves with the information and skills to provide a better way of life for themselves and those around them. With the number of organizations put in place to change this ideal increasing, like that of the UCalgary Women’s Resource Centre, things have continued to progress.
Beginning the thought process of the idea in the 1990s, a group of students and professors started a grassroots movement and advocated for women-centric spaces on campus, which then led to the establishment of the Women’s Resource Centre on the UCalgary campus.
Sheila O’Brien, special advisor to the president on student life, generously donated her salary toward the construction of the centre, it was reborn on the 18th of October, also known as Person’s Day in Canada.
In addition to the service they provide to visitors, the WRC has a volunteer program called the Peer Helper program, which is run by the UofC Leadership and Student Engagement Office. In the centre, there are two different groups of volunteers: those who focus on community outreach, for example, reaching out to those in the community and informing them on the centre and the beneficial services they provide; and those who focus on peer support, for example, helping students or visitors with the necessary skills to aid them in their search for resources on or off the campus.
Another team in the volunteer program would be those who deal with events and volunteer engagement, which is usually occupied by many students who are passionate about social justice. The centre is the student service with the largest volunteer groups, due to the not-so strict requirements in the hiring process, which gives many people, especially recent high-school graduate students the chance to gain experience.
“The most important thing about the volunteers, I think, is their sense of community. Like, they’re all very close. It’s a space where you can literally make mistakes and it’s okay because that’s what we’re all about it. It’s learning, and then fixing our mistakes, acknowledging it, and then moving forward,” says Maria Maura, a co-op student at the UofC WRC for the winter 2023 semester.
Since the opening of the Women’s Resource Centre, 17 years ago, more than 500 people have been part of the volunteer program, doing whatever they can to provide the essential resources to the hundreds that walk through their doors, from students to those in the community.
Despite the positive effect that the WRC has been making in the lives of women, and others in Calgary, there are still several controversial opinions on the existence of the centre.
Regardless of these types of targeted comments, the centre remains non-partisan but continues to show and tell the truths about why a woman’s resource centre is still needed in 2023. With inequities still set against women, the WRC tries to raise awareness, and create a safe space.
Other misunderstandings against the centre would be their inclusivity, whereas people assume it is only for women.
“We are open to everybody, regardless of your gender, because it takes everybody to make a change.” says Di Honorio, the program coordinator at UofC WRC. One of the centre’s aims is to be as inclusive as possible to the public.
Opened on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the communal space is equipped with quiet spaces, a library filled with information connecting to the aim of the centre, as well as more open areas for others to study, eat, hang out with friends, or meet new people.
“We’re a space that hopes to kind of build community, promote equality, by engaging everyone on campus,” says, Di Honorio, “We want to focus on micro affirmations, where all these little things that build up to create a better world, a better space for everyone.”