BY JUDITH CLAYDEN
The Northern Women's Resource Service (NWRS) has emerged as a reality after two and a half years of planning and research. We are a grassroots organization whose aim is to improve the situation of women and their families in the social, economic, and political spheres. The concept originated in 1986 with a steering committee comprised of seven northern Manitoban women's groups from the city of Thompson. They hired a project consultant to identify gaps in services, analyze existing activities and services, and establish the need for a northern resource centre for women.
The research showed that existing services were minimal and many were sporadic. In addition, the women interviewed indicated the need for information and referral, knowledge on rights and options, education and awareness, and support and advocacy. A proposal was made to the provincial government Family Dispute Services; the proposal was approved and the service started in March 1989. The official opening of a base office of the NWRS in Flin Flon, Manitoba, happened in late August.
The NWRS is unique in its goal to serve the entire north, not just one specific community. The service's main operations are advocacy, education, and research, and these are achieved through the provision of information, referrals, support counselling, a lending library, training, workshops, presentations, research, consultation, networking, a northern resource directory, and a skills bank card file. NWRS is flexible and will endeavour to reflect the changing needs of women in the north.
A collective called the Northern Coordinating Committee, with members from communities across the Manitoba north, is the governing body of the NWRS. They hired two Resource Coordinators, myself and Judy Hughes, to work out of the base office in Flin Flon. We both have expertise in initiating and developing direct services and programs for non-profit organizations, in promoting political action, and in awareness of the barriers women face in our society.