YWCA Circa 1900

YWCA Archives – Understanding our History

YWCA Metro Vancouver opened its doors in 1897 to provide housing and services to women arriving in Vancouver in search of education or employment. Over the last 126 years, the YWCA has been serving the community, providing programs and supports that have evolved with the changing times.  

As an organization with a long history, we have a responsibility to better understand, acknowledge and address our complicity in historic and current colonial practices. To make steps towards this commitment, the organization has embarked on a project to archive our historic materials and develop a plan for redress. 

With a grant from the UBC Community University Engagement Support (CUES) Fund, we partnered with UBC Library and Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) to catalogue, preserve and make available to both the public and the research community, YWCA records dating back to our origins in the region. 

Our archives tell the story of the city through the perspective of the dedicated women concerned about the safety and wellbeing of women and their children. These historic materials illustrate the context of how the YWCA chose which services to deliver alongside the advancement of women’s rights, truth and reconciliation and other pro-social policies.  

Now that we have completed cataloguing our archives, the next phase will be to develop a research plan. We have hired Reciprocal Consulting to help guide us in this challenging work in a project tentatively called: Truth and Reconciliation Research – Honoring, Lifting Up our Grandmothers, Aunties, Mothers, Sisters, and 2Spirit Truths for Reconciliation. 

As we progress with this important work, we will keep the community informed. 

For more information on YWCA archives, contact Elia Robles at erobles@ywcavan.org | 604 218 8409. 


This article is part of the 2023 Fall/Winter edition of our Contact Newsletter. 
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