Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Visit our youtube channel Plus one us Subscribe to our RSS Feed

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

About Time: National Strategy on Housing

Posted on: August 29th, 2017 by Nellie's No Comments


The federal government is currently developing no fewer than three national strategies that will shape public policy and funding decisions that affect women and children, and how agencies like Nellie’s can support them. A National Housing Strategy, a Strategy to Address Gender-Based Violence, and a Poverty Reduction Strategy are all currently under development and set to be released this year.

As we at Nellie’s know from decades on the frontline of the fight for social justice for all women and children, system change is infuriatingly slow. Yet every so often, there comes the opportunity to change government policy and make real progress. Year in and year out, we push for change, with the help of our staff, donors, volunteers, and of course the women who come to Nellie’s, and every day, prove what is possible when women are given a chance. We know opportunities for system change are rare, and when the moment arises, we’ve got to be ready.

The National Housing Strategy will set out the investments and outcomes for the full spectrum of housing from homelessness to home ownership. It will incorporate a new federal-provincial agreement that will set the terms for how governments will work together to improve housing affordability. Critically, it will also feature an update and expansion of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, a key mechanism for government funding of homelessness serving services.

Women and men experience homelessness in very different ways. Advocacy around homelessness has been dominated by male-led organizations, hiring male marketers to convince male politicians. This has consequences for what we think of as homelessness, who gets to the table, and how funding is decided. The federal government has singled out survivors of domestic abuse as a priority population for the strategy. We’re keen to see them open their eyes to the gendered effects of homelessness.

They might be helped by the Federal Strategy to Address Gender-based Violence. The strategy aims to strengthen efforts to prevent and address gender-based violence and ensure a coordinated, evidence-based response. Importantly, it will also initiate a long overdue national personal safety survey. A major national survey on violence against women has not been done since 1993. Government runs on data, and numbers–what gets measured, matters. It’s about time we measure the personal safety of women and children.

Finally, the Poverty Reduction Strategy is the government’s attempt to recognize the complex social and economic factors leading people into–and out of–poverty. Canada does not have an official definition of poverty, or an official measure to track it. Now is our chance to influence how the federal government understands poverty, and define the government’s responsibility across key areas that impact poverty. To know what those areas are, the government would do well to start with the range of programming offered by Nellie’s: housing, food, health, employment and education. These are the foundations.

At Nellie’s, we know it takes work on all levels to achieve social justice. We take care of the basics, because without food in her belly and a door to lock behind her, it’s impossible for a woman to build a life for her and her children. We provide a holistic range of services and programs to support women creating opportunities for themselves, and to create opportunities for kids to be kids. We take what we’ve learned and contribute on committees and advisory councils that help spread knowledge and best practices. We’re proud of the fact that Nellie’s anti-racism anti-oppression framework has become a model for other organizations.

But we also know individuals and organizations are players in a bigger game. We need to change the rules of that game, to remove the barriers of abuse, prejudice, and oppression for all women and children. That’s why Nellie’s has a dedicated volunteer committee on social justice. That’s why our donors support us so generously, to ensure we remain independent to speak truth to power. Nellie’s has never been afraid to seek a new solution, or, when we have to, to fight on behalf of all women and children.

Now is a pivotal moment for policy affecting women and children.  And, thanks to your support, Nellie’s is here to the make the most of this opportunity to push for social justice for all women and children.

More Women With Young Children in Shelter …

Posted on: August 25th, 2017 by Nellie's No Comments

More women with young children depending on women’s shelters, putting strain on resources



Women’s shelters across the city say more women are seeking refuge with young children in tow, putting a strain on resources.

Nellie’s, a shelter in Toronto’s east end, says 14 of their 36 beds are currently occupied by children, and the majority of those are toddlers.

Ingrid Graham, the shelter’s manager of development, says diapers are so in demand, the cost is coming out of their already-stretched food budget.

“The more babies, the more money we’re putting towards buying diapers, baby formula and baby wipes,” Graham said. “All the help we can get can help us stretch our budget a little further.”

The province told CityNews it’s committed to investing in Violence Against Women (VAW) agencies.

“In 2016-17, the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) invested $148 million in Violence Against Women services, which is a 54 per cent increase since 2003, at this time, approximately 10,900 women and 6,700 children were served at VAW shelters,” a government spokesperson said in an email.

“In 2015-2016, we invested $147M in VAW services, and at this time, approximately 10,770 women and 6,920 children were served at VAW shelters.

“The ministry funds more than 2,000 beds dedicated for use by women and their children.”

“No woman who is in crisis and needs shelter is turned away – a bed will be found for her and her children.”

Full Story Here


With the closing of one of Toronto’s largest Women’s Shelters for renovations, we have taken in extra families and now we need a bit of help keeping up with diapers for 14 toddlers.  We are looking for donations of wipes & diapers size 5 & 6.  If you can help, drop off is at our office at 754 Queen St E, Monday – Friday, 9-5.  If you prefer to shop online, WalMart delivers free over $25 or you can donate online and put “diapers” in the message section

For all of you who have already responded by dropping off, donating & shopping online, having diaper drives, sharing and re-tweeting on Twitter and Facebook, Thank you so much!  These toddlers will be with us for awhile, so please keep up the good work!

Black History Month – Laverne Cox

Posted on: February 4th, 2016 by Nellie's No Comments
LGBT Advocate - Laverne Cox

Black History Month

Laverne Cox is an actress, producer and transgender advocate who made television history when she became the first African-American transgender woman to appear on an American reality show, with her appearance as a finalist on VH1’s I Want to Work for Diddy. The show won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Program.

Laverne’s popularity subsequently led her to star in, co-create and co-produce her own show called TRANSform Me, making her the first African-American trans woman to produce and star in her own television show. TRANSform Me was nominated for a GLAAD media award for Outstanding Reality Program.

As an actress Laverne has had guest starring roles on Law and Order, Law and Order: SVU and HBO’s Bored to Death. She can be seen in the forthcoming independent films Musical Chairs (directed by Susan Seidelman), Carl(a), Grand Street and The Exhibitionists. Her other film credits include Uncle Stephanie, Bronx Paradise, The Kings of Brooklyn and Daughter of Arabia.

Laverne continues to be an advocate for transgender representation in the media. Laverne is passionate about telling stories in the media that reflect the full depth, diversity and humanity of transgender experience.

She is best known for her portrayal of Sophia Burset on the Netflix television series Orange Is the New Black, for which she became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the acting category, and the first to be nominated for an Emmy Award since composer/musician Angela Morley in 1990. On June 26, 2015 she became the first openly transgender person to have a wax figure of herself at Madame Tussauds.

Black History Month – Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Posted on: February 4th, 2016 by Nellie's No Comments


Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She was an early influence on figures such as Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. A woman whose music runs like a thread through rock’n’roll history: her popular 1940s recording of Up Above My Head – a rousing duet with her friend and lover Marie Knight – provided the template for a 1964 interpretation by Long John Baldry and Rod Stewart

The daughter of Arkansas cotton-pickers, Tharpe was raised by her mother, a travelling evangelist with the Church of God in Christ. She was six years old, and already playing the guitar and performing in church, when they moved to Chicago, where she soon absorbed the sounds of blues and jazz, and went on to attract a following.

In 1938, after a short-lived first marriage, she moved to New York, where the great talent scout John Hammond included her – alongside Big Joe Turner, Big Bill Broonzy, Count Basie and others – in his celebrated From Spirituals to Swing concert at Carnegie Hall. But she also shocked her original fans by appearing at the Cotton Club and singing secular material – some of it, such as Four or Five Times and I Want a Tall Skinny Papa, decidedly risqué. Nevertheless, a song called Strange Things Happening Every Day became the first gospel record to reach the R&B top 10 in 1945; and 25,000 fans paid to attend her wedding to her third husband in a Washington DC sports stadium in 1951.

Her following had once included the young Elvis Presley, who loved her ferocious guitar-playing. Dylan, on his radio show, said of a later British tour: “I’m sure there are a lot of young English guys who picked up an electric guitar after getting a look at her.” Just as remarkable as her guitar-playing is the great artistry of her singing: the strength of her tone and her command of expressive variation, the flexibility of her phrasing, the mastery of vibrato. The headstone erected on her grave decades after her death bears these words: “She would sing until you cried, and then she would sing until you danced for joy. She kept the church alive and the saints rejoicing.” And she helped shape the sound of rock’n’roll.

Listen to her here:

Farewell to Cindy Cowan

Posted on: May 29th, 2013 by Nellie's No Comments

Farewell Cindy

It is with great sadness that I inform you that Cindy Cowan, former Executive Director of Nellie’s lost her long battle with ovarian cancer.

Cindy died on Saturday May 25, 2013. She will be remembered for her tireless work to improve women’s living conditions and removing barriers to safety and equity.

All Staff and Board members of Nellie’s are mourning the death of our former Executive Director.

Margarita Mendez
Executive Director

Cindy’s Obituary

Globe and Mail Article “An activist faces her own mortality after ovarian cancer diagnosis.”

New Website Launches on International Women’s Day

Posted on: March 8th, 2013 by Nellie's No Comments

We are excited to celebrate International Women’s Day this year with the launch of our brand new website! Over a year ago, YOU helped us win 3rd place in TBK Creative’s Website Charity Challenge.  Today, we have a brand new website thanks to everyone in our community who voted for us in this contest.

Our new website brings many changes to the way we can communicate with you.  Here are some of the highlights:

– Our blog now appears on our homepage
– An interactive calendar listing important social justice and fundraising dates
Feminist Twitter Guide so you can  keep up with all the latest feminist news
– Social Media Integration
– Updated content, including survivor stories

We invited you to browse our new site and leave your feedback in the comments below!

new Website launch

(Happy International Women’s Day from everyone at Nellie’s)

Today, we are also officially launching our latest position paper on Accessibility: Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women. This paper, written by Nellie’s Social Justice Committee, focuses on the  societal perceptions and personal biases about Disabilites, including the impacts of ableism on various communities such as immigrant and newcomer women, Aboriginal women and women of colour. The paper is launching in conjunction with the second cycle of our “Women on the Move Support Group.” The full position paper can be found here. 

On International Women’s Day, we would like to say thank-you to everyone who supports our work to create new beginnings for women and children leaving situations of violence, poverty and homelessness.  We couldn’t do this work without you! Happy International Women’s Day!