October 3 was a unique day in Ottawa. The air was a thick soup in the 32° heat wave. MPs were voting for a new Speaker of the House in a rare mid-session election. And I was hurrying between parliamentary meetings with a group of brilliant young women I'd just met the evening before.
In a field traditionally dominated by men in suits, we might have looked out of place. But this was the point. It was the third annual YWCA Day on the Hill and we were there to generate a buzz.
Over 70 YWCA leaders from across Canada were on Parliament Hill to speak to the federal government about the housing crisis and its intersection with gender-based violence. In groups, we took meetings with MPs, Senators and other members of government to make our ask:
An investment of $600 million for the renewal of the Women and Children Shelter and Transitional Housing Initiative, with an expansion to include permanent affordable housing for women, gender diverse people and their families.
Thanks to YWCA Canada’s Young Women Leadership Miles, I was there to lend my voice alongside counterparts from YWCAs in Banff, Toronto and Halifax. Equipped with an armful of notes and a generous amount of imposter syndrome, I made our case: From coast to coast to coast, we see the same needs and hear the same stories. We are experts in housing solutions that meet the needs of women and their families. And addressing the desperate need for safe affordable housing leads to opportunities for growth and economic stability.
Erin Seeley, YWCA Metro Vancouver’s CEO, and Lisa Rupert, VP of Housing and Violence prevention, also attended, taking their own parliamentary meetings including with Women and Gender Equality Canada.
By the end of the day, Canada had its first Black Speaker of the House, Greg Fergus, the heat had not relented, and I was equal parts exhausted and energized knowing that our input belongs in government, and so do we.
To support our safe and affordable housing communities, contact Bobbi Sarai Tanguay at email@example.com | 604 418 2225.