Our clients drive our work and everything we do. We thank them for sharing their stories and experiences with us, and how YWCA NWT programs, staff and services helped them on their journey to independence and healing.
*Names and identifying details have been changed for confidentiality reasons.
Transitional Housing Program
Brenda Mtetwa came to Canada in the winter of 2017 with her husband and teenage daughter. They stayed briefly in Ontario, and when they received their work papers, they went on to Yellowknife, where Brenda had a cousin. Brenda's cousin had told her that Yellowknife would be a good place for the family to find jobs and get back on their feet. In Africa, Brenda worked as a teacher, and her husband was in finance. After coming to Canada staying for three months waiting for papers, they had used up the last of their resources getting to Yellowknife.
They first stayed with Brenda's cousin for a short period, but they couldn't stay for long. Brenda's cousin was caring for vulnerable people in her home, and she couldn't board Brenda
and her family. Brenda and her husband, new to life in Canada, didn't know where to start. That's when Brenda's cousin took Brenda to the YWCA Transitional Housing Program. The YWCA helped to orient the family to services in the community, and what they needed to do to get housing. With help from the YWCA Transitional Housing Program and other community programs, they were able to find jobs relatively quickly, but finding housing proved to be the most difficult challenge for the family. They were able to secure emergency housing through the YWCA Transitional Housing Program for a limited time, while they worked on securing their own unit. The challenge for them, was that they had no credit or tenancy record in Canada. They applied to many landlords, and many landlords had a limited number of units, and many were reluctant to rent to a newcomer family with no credit. One landlord even asked for double the security deposit, citing their credit. With the help of the YWCA advocating for them, the family was able to secure their own housing unit with a different landlord. When reflecting on what could have happened if they hadn't been involved with the YWCA, Brenda doesn't
know where they would have started, or how long it could have taken them to get back on their feet.
Transitional Housing Program
Jessica is originally from the Sahtu. She came to Yellowknife for a medical appointment and stayed. Her children were staying in Yellowknife, and she was having a custody dispute with her ex-partner. She found accommodation with someone she met shortly after arriving. In the community she had left, she was able to rent an apartment while working a service position. In Yellowknife, the cost of renting an apartment, especially one where her children could stay, was out of the question. She began working in the service industry shortly after, and worked feverishly to pay-off her debt to public housing, so that she
could be put on the public housing wait list. She was also pregnant.
She moved around a few times after that, until she got an emergency housing unit with the YWCA Transitional Housing Program. She was able to get her own unit that was big enough for her children to stay and had a safe place to have her baby. She needed to rely on income assistance to pay the rent and has to watch her budget very closely. She strives to provide a healthy diet for her children. She sometimes relies on community food assistance programs to get through. Though her baby is still too young for her to go back to work, she hopes that in a few years, she’ll be able to go back to school, and open her own business.
Transitional Housing Program
Jennipher grew up in Yellowknife. When she was in her early twenties, she wanted to travel and spent 4 years living abroad, coming home to visit on occasion. She worked in the service industry. While living abroad, Jennipher had a boyfriend and got pregnant. She decided to come back to Yellowknife so that she could work enough hours to qualify for maternity leave, and to have her baby. When she got back, her parents were staying in their cabin. She stayed with them for a little while, but it was overcrowded and unsuitable for her and her baby. She bounced around for some time, and was on the public housing wait list. The cost of keeping an apartment was prohibitively expensive, and the cost of daycare would be too expensive for someone in her income bracket to maintain without income assistance. So she went back to stay with her boyfriend abroad, where she could live relatively comfortably.
After she had her baby, Jennipher and her partner decided to return to Yellowknife together. It took Jennipher’s partner a year to finalize his immigration papers after he arrived. During that time, they couch surfed until they got an emergency housing unit with the YWCA Transitional Housing Program. During that time, Jennipher persistently advocated for herself to get a public housing unit, and got into public housing three months later. Since that time, their family grew, and the children are now in school. Jennipher was able to go back to school, and her partner had steady work, though he was laid-off during the COVID 19 pandemic. Having a public housing unit has allowed this family to create a stable environment for their children to grow-up in, and has been key for them to create a better economic situation for their future.
GirlSpace Youth Program
I honestly think GirlSpace was one of the best things t ever happen to me. It is the thing I look forward to most during the week, more so than Friday, which is saying something coming from a 16 year old girl! It is the one place where I feel 100% comfortable being open and where I can be myself. I have learned so much and all of it has helped shape me into the young woman I am today, and I know it will continue to do so until I graduate next year.
I found out about Girlspace in grade 8. I was bullied in my previous school and this was a very dark time for me and I was borderline depressed. I was looking for something that would help me get out of that place. I showed up nervous and skeptical, but I relaxed pretty quick as the group of us started to introduce ourselves through icebreaker games. By the end of the night, I was so excited for the next week. It really helped me and I started to leave that dark place. It quickly became my favourite place.
It was the people and girls in the program that I really loved. We became like a family. Everyone (once comfortable) was so open, and kind; I also discovered that all the things I was feeling, were really common amongst the girls my age. We had a different theme each week, and it was all so eye opening, and educational. I have made relationships from GirlSpace that I know will last for a very long time. The coordinator was one of the biggest role models of my life and she was there for me whenever I needed her. I am so thankful for everything that the GirlSpace program has done for me and will be for the rest of my life.