Reimagining our Cities event - host and panelists

Reimagining our Cities

by Saphiya Zerrouk

One of YWCA Metro Vancouver’s advocacy priorities is the economic, physical and mental well-being of women and gender-diverse people. To achieve this, we need a holistic approach, which includes creating public spaces that support the diverse needs of all citizens. We need cities that allow for equal opportunities, functionality and safety; and we need representation that reflects the diversity of Metro Vancouver.  

This is why we launched City Shift, a three-year project with support from Women and Gender Equality Canada, that calls on local decision-makers across policy, funding and services to commit to making Metro Vancouver a safer and more equitable place. This initiative encourages elected officials to use an equity lens on city planning, and to follow through with action on changes that need to be made.   

In addition to creating a Kickstarter Guide, City Shift will incorporate a series of events and workshops. Reimagining our Cities was the first event, held at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts on September 22 in front of a sold-out crowd. Maria Vassilakou, Former Deputy Mayor of Vienna, Austria, gave the keynote address about how, during her tenure, her administration helped Vienna consistently rank as one of the most livable cities in the world. 

The event also featured a lively panel discussion. Andrea Reimer, Adjunct Professor, UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs served as the emcee, along with panelists Kevin Huang, Executive Director of Hua Foundation; Tiyaltelut Kristen Rivers, former Co-Chair of the Squamish Nation Council and OneCity Park Board candidate; Nic Wayara, Founder of Hook or Crook Consulting; and Tiffany Muller Myrdahl, expert in urban and feminist geography and Senior Lecturer at SFU. The evening concluded with a beautiful reading by New Westminster's Poet Laureate, Elliott Slinn. 

Workshop and panels  

To facilitate a deeper understanding of how our cities work and how we can reach our equity goals, we hosted three free workshops throughout October. 

The first, Local Government Advocacy 101, took place on October 6, and was facilitated by Diana Kamau and Clara Prager from Women Transforming Cities. The interactive session offered a chance to further understand how local governments in Metro Vancouver work, what they are responsible for and how decisions are made. It also covered how to appeal to local governments on important issues.  

The second workshop, Speaking Power to Power – Building Power Literacy to Advance your Agenda, was on October 22 and facilitated Andrea Reimer, Adjunct Professor, UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and Founder of Tawaw Strategies. Andrea discussed holding politicians to account when their promises do not come to fruition and how to use power literacy and power competency to instigate change.  

The third workshop took place in person at the YWCA Program Centre on October 26 and was hosted by artist and facilitator Luna Aixin, who led a group of participants in an inquisitive and imaginative zine-making workshop. During the workshop, participants used the poem that Elliot Slinn, New Westminster’s Poet Laureate, created at the Reimagining our Cities event for inspiration to imagine bold ideas on the future of cities on these unceded Indigenous lands. The group’s creations have been collated into a collective zine.  

For more information on City Shift, contact Shauna Shortt at | 604 895 5772. 



This article is part of the 2022 Fall/Winter edition of our Contact Newsletter. 
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