The Laurier Brantford Women’s Centre

I sat down and spoke with Carisa Santos, a co-coordinator for the Laurier Brantford Women’s Centre, to learn more about this great student collective on campus! 

What is the Women’s Centre? 

A student collective under the Centre for Student Equity Diversity and Inclusion (CSEDI). As a student collective, we’re a bunch of students that get together to create events under the CSEDI values to educate and inform our community. 

Who is it for? 

We’re by students, for students; so our primary objective is to be a recognizable and approachable face. So rather than approaching a strange adult, seeing someone closer to your age or experience level might feel like a more welcoming option. Especially because some of what we do might touch on sensitive subjects, so if that’s already an uncomfortable thing to go into, having a comforting approach helps ease the transition. The Women’s Centre isn’t just for women or non-binary individuals, but some services and/or events may be more focused on that demographic. Especially in terms of safer spaces such as safer spaces for sexual assault victims. However, while some events might seem tailored towards women and non-binary individuals, that doesn’t mean that our education that we could provide is so limited that male-identifying individuals couldn’t also benefit from the experience. We also greatly encourage male allies to get involved and get educated!

Image from the official Laurier Brantford Women's Centre Facebook page.

What are the common misconceptions surrounding the Women’s Centre? 

The Women’s Centre isn’t just for women or non-binary individuals, but some services and/or events may be more focused on that demographic. Especially in terms of safer spaces such as safer spaces for sexual assault victims. However, while some events might be tailored towards women and non-binary individuals, that doesn’t mean that our education that we could provide is so limited that male-identifying individuals could also benefit from the experience. We also greatly encourage male allies to get involved and get educated!

While we are located in the same location as the sexual assault counsellor, sexual assault is far from being our only focus. We focus on any number of gendered or sexual education, which is anything from consent, to menstruation, reproductive health, feminist empowerment, gendered violence, etc. 

What services and/or events does it provide? 

Our two primary objectives are to host events or office hours. Our office hours are used for individuals who might need someone to talk to if there is something in the community that makes them uncomfortable or they feel victimized in some way. Whatever the situation is – if they’re just seeking comfort or if they’re in crisis mode. Students under the CSEDI office have office hours for students to come and drop by to feel heard, understood, and if need be, to have a mediation towards other services that may assist them further. 

Some events we do are guest speakers, workshops, informational events, and safer spaces (other than the CSEDI office being a safer space in general). Safer spaces are a way to reach out to those that may feel emotionally impacted by a current event either on campus or within the media. 

On Halloween, we held an event for the movement “How I Dress is NOT a Yes”. We plan to expand that message beyond just a day and incorporate it throughout the year, as the message isn’t only relevant on Halloween. 

Our next event is on Friday, December 6th 2019 which is a drop-in safer study space to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, which remembers the Montréal massacre at École Polytechnique. We will be showing a documentary and students can also drop in to study. 

The current location of our office is the community space in St. Andrew’s Church on the second floor. However, we will be moving to the One Market building at the beginning of December.