Regina – Today YWCA Regina’s Advocacy Committee is launching its third annual Sexual Assault Prevention Campaign, Blamé. 21 local establishments will serve customers beverages on Not Asking for It coasters and display informative posters for the public to view in conjunction with Saskatchewan’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week.

“When someone is raped, they carry the burden of their experience and the subsequent judgements of others with them for the rest of their life,” says Hillary Aitken, Senior Director of Housing at YWCA Regina. “The goal of this campaign is to shine on a light on the stigma attached to sexual assault–and ultimately eliminate sexual violence altogether–so that survivors and victims aren’t responsible for educating their community that what happened to them wasn’t their fault.”

In Regina, 2018 saw 38.6 per cent more sexual assaults reported to police than in 2017, meanwhile Saskatchewan’s rate of sexual assault is double the national average. It is worth noting that when someone is intoxicated, they cannot legally consent to sex and sex without consent is sexual assault.

“We need to shift the stigma of sexual assault so it falls on the attacker, not the person who has been assaulted”, says Chantelle Kraushaar, Victoria’s Tavern General Manager. “I believe that it’s everyone’s responsibility to get informed, to demand consent and respect for all people in their daily lives, and to take action together in building a more caring community.”

Staff at participating Regina businesses have access to information on the realities of sexual assault in our province and why victim-blaming is harmful, so that they can carry out informed discussions with customers. Customers are then asked to share photos of themselves with Blamé coasters on social media using the hashtags #NotAskingForIt and #YWCARegina along with what they have learned about sexual assault.

Participating establishments in Regina include O’Hanlons Irish Pub, Crave Kitchen & Wine Bar, Victoria’s Tavern, Leopold’s Tavern OG, Leopold’s Tavern North, Leopold’s Tavern East, Malty National, Cathedral Social Hall, Shannon’s Irish Pub, Bushwakker Brewpub, Rebellion, the Fat Badger, The Capitol, Lancaster Taphouse, The Cure, Bodega Tapas Bar, Has Beans, Beer Brothers, The Willow on Wascana, Lot Regina, and Tommy’s Speakeatery.

Regina – YWCA Regina has successfully been awarded 51 new licensed childcare spaces for toddler and pre-school age children by the Government of Saskatchewan. As a result, the association will be opening a new childcare centre in north Regina come September 2019.

“We are thrilled to be expanding our childcare services for the benefit of Regina families,” says YWCA Regina CEO, Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen. “There continues to be a growing need for licensed childcare in Saskatchewan and we are very happy to help address that need.”

This childcare centre will be operating out of a new YWCA Regina facility at 1855 2nd Ave N. It also boasts a Before and After School Program for children attending St. Mary, Elsie Mironuck, and Imperial schools in the community.

YWCA Regina’s Childcare Centres offer a full range of developmental programming to nurture children’s physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and creative lives. To learn more or to register, please connect with Natasha at

Regina – YWCA Regina’s Nutrien Women of Distinction Awards is pleased to announce that Dr. Vianne Timmons, O.C. has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. Vianne is a nationally celebrated leader and educator, having been named as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017 and one of Canada’s “Top 100 Most Powerful Women” for 4 years. Professionally, Vianne has been serving the University of Regina as the institution’s first woman President and Vice-Chancellor for the past decade. Across Canada, less than 25% of university presidents are women, a statistic Vianne is committed to changing.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is granted annually by a selection committee whose decision is based on four criteria: the recipient must be a woman of influence, a woman of exceptional accomplishment, a woman of exemplary character, and a woman of endurance.

“We are very excited that Vianne is accepting this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award,” says Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen, CEO of YWCA Regina. “Vianne fearlessly uses every opportunity she can to bring voice to all women. Her commitment to changing the course for future generations of women while lifting women up as she succeeds are testaments to her strengths as a feminist and leader.”

Born into a coal-mining family and raised in a small community in Northern Labrador, Dr. Vianne Timmons credits her modest and humble upbringing for encouraging her success in leadership. In 1983, Vianne completed her Master of Education degree in Special Education from Gonzaga University, and she then went on to complete her PhD in Education Psychology from the University of Calgary in 1993. Since 2010, she has hosted the Inspiring Leadership Forum, an annual event that explores the power of women’s leadership for people of all genders across southern Saskatchewan.

“Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from YWCA Regina is an incredible honour,” says Timmons. “The organization does so much in our community to promote gender equality, enhance the status of women, and serve families. Celebrating women’s accomplishments is an important part of this, and something that I hope will help inspire the next generation of leaders.”

Since 1981, YWCA Regina’s Nutrien Women of Distinction Awards have recognized women whose outstanding achievements contribute to the health and future of our community and are an inspiration to others. Nominees will be celebrated at the 38thAnnual Awards Gala taking place May 2.

To nominate a woman for an award, purchase tickets to the Awards Gala, or learn more about the Awards, please visit

Regina – YWCA Regina is thrilled to announce that celebrated Canadian comedian, author, and mental health advocate, Jessica Holmes, will be speaking at the 2019 Nutrien Women of Distinction Awards Gala. Jessica’s hilarious take on life’s challenges and devotion to helping others live well is sure to keep the Gala’s audience entertained on May 2, 2019.

Jessica Holmes has brought the house down opening for giants such as Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Peters, Jerry Seinfeld, and Oprah Winfrey. Her productions have earned her a “Platinum Award” at the Worldfest International Film Festival and nominations for Gemini Awards, and she has appeared at Just for Laughs and continues to perform comedy across Canada. Jessica is also known for her work in films, including Mooseport, Citizen Duane, and Moonpoint, and every year you can meet her new characters on the Air Farce New Year’s Eve special.

“Jessica Holmes is a favourite among Canadian households,” says YWCA Regina CEO, Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen. “Her presence at YWCA Regina’s 2019 Nutrien Women of Distinction Awards Gala will amplify women’s voices and provide opportunities for women to be inspired.”

The Nutrien Women of Distinction Awards highlight the diverse accomplishments of women from communities all across Southern Saskatchewan. This year’s addition of a keynote speaker continues the tradition of celebrating women, while at the same time raises crucial funds for programming and services that are made available to vulnerable women and families in our community.

“As our largest fundraiser of the year, we rely on the Women of Distinction Awards to continue serving and supporting women and families,” continues Coomber-Bendtsen. “Last year, YWCA Regina turned away over 3000 folks due to a lack of space and resources. Our goal is to expand our reach and continue providing the life-changing services that the YWCA is known for.”

Tickets for the 38th Annual Nutrien Women of Distinction Awards taking place on May 2, 2019 are on sale now! To purchase your ticket or a table of 8, please visit

Regina – YWCA Regina is pleased to announce that Nutrien has signed on to be the title sponsor of the 2019 Women of Distinction Awards. As the world’s largest provider of crop outputs, services, and solutions, Nutrien feeds the future of global communities, including right here in Saskatchewan where YWCA Regina will be celebrating 38 years of Women of Distinction in May.

“Nominating a woman for an award is a significant act of recognition of the work that women invest in our communities every day,” says YWCA Regina CEO, Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen. “Nutrien’s commitment to building community aligns with what a woman of distinction does, as well as the mandate of YWCA Regina.”

The Women of Distinction Awards highlight the diverse accomplishments of women from communities all across Southern Saskatchewan. Nutrien’s continued partnership with YWCA Regina ensures the success and sustainability of the annual event, which raises crucial funds for programming and services that are made available to vulnerable women and families in our community.

“As our largest fundraiser of the year, we rely on the Women of Distinction Awards to continue serving and supporting women and families,” continues Coomber-Bendtsen. “Last year, YWCA Regina turned away over 3000 folks due to a lack of space and resources. Our goal is to expand our reach and continue providing the life-changing services that the YWCA is known for.”

The earlybird nomination deadline for the YWCA Regina Nutrien Women of Distinction Awards is January 25, 2019. To learn more about the nomination process and to nominate a woman in your community, please visit

September 30 is Orange Shirt Day, an annual opportunity for community discussion and healing around the legacy of residential schools in Canada to occur. Each year we learn more about the horrors that survivors endured at the hands of the Canadian Government up until the last school was closed in Saskatchewan in 1996.

In the Spring of 2013, a commemoration event took place at the site of St. Joseph’s Mission residential school in Williams Lake, BC. Orange Shirt Day is inspired by the story of Phyllis, a young Indigenous girl who, on her first day of school at the Mission in 1974, had her new orange shirt taken away. September 30 was later chosen as Orange Shirt Day as it falls during the time of year when Indigenous children were torn from their families and forced to enter residential schools.

We observe Orange Shirt Day to commit and recommit ourselves to anti-racism and anti-bullying practices in our schools and workplaces. Teachers incorporate this important learning in to their classroom for students to process and, ultimately, carry the stories and lessons with them throughout their lives.
Orange Shirt Day also serves as a reminder for local governments, schools, institutions, organizations, and communities to actively engage in reconciliation through their work every day.

Every Child Matters, and YWCA Regina extends our love and hope to all survivors, as well as those living with inter-generational trauma that has plagued Indigenous families for decades.

In June of next year, more than 6000 world leaders, parliamentarians, private sector executives, civil society leaders, young people, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists from over 160 countries will gather in Vancouver for Women Deliver 2019, the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women in the 21st century. Another 100 thousand people will participate online in satellite sessions around the globe.

Hosting Women Deliver 2019 is a big moment for our country and our community. In the lead up to the conference, organizers are calling on community leaders across the country to discuss the importance of gender equality, gender-balanced practices, and what we can do to advance the rights and freedoms of women and girls globally.

The reality is, in 2018, only 26% of Canadian elected federal politicians are women. Women make 30% less than their male counterparts and account for 87% of victims of sexual offences. Indigenous women are three times more likely to report being a victim of gender-based violence than non-Indigenous women, and in Saskatchewan, police-reported family violence is twice the national average with 78% of women accessing YWCA Regina emergency shelters doing so as a result of violence.

While we’ve made significant strides in the past century towards a more just and equal society for women in our country, these statistics serve as a reminder of the work we have left to do.

But there’s hope! This week marks the first-ever Gender Equality Week. The theme of this year’s week is “gender equality benefits everyone” and YWCA Regina truly believes that when women do better, we all do better. This is why we will be participating with a social media campaign, highlighting the contributions that women have made in a variety of sectors while elevating the stories of women to expand our collective awareness. We have launched our new Equals Button, and we are asking that you wear it as a visible sign of solidarity and your commitment to enhancing and contributing to gender equality in our community.
You can contribute to the conversation using the hashtags #WeDeliver2019 and #GenderEqualityWeek on social media. Of course, you can tag us on all platforms at YWCARegina (no spaces!), or using our hashtag #YWCARegina. We would love to see photos of you and your buttons.

To learn more about Women Deliver 2019, please visit

The Grand Opening of the newly-named and redecorated Encore Market took place on September 21, with an enthusiastic crowd of shoppers, media, staff, and YWCA clients on hand.

Closed for several weeks for renovations in the summer months, the former Anything Goes store reopened with a larger inventory, better selection, and a brighter environment.

But the purpose behind the store remains the same. Run entirely on a volunteer basis, the store’s behind-the-scenes mission is to provide no- and low-cost clothing and household goods to women and children who are in transition. Every day, YWCA clients from My Aunt’s Place homeless shelter and Isabel Johnson Shelter for women fleeing domestic violence access essential goods that help them to start new homes and new lives.

In addition, Encore Market provides exceptional value and a great shopping environment to customers from the community, whatever their income or circumstances. Store profits directly benefit YWCA programs for women, children, youth, and families.

Encore Market’s inventory is supplied entirely by donations of goods from the community.

Plans to renovate and renew the Anything Goes store began in the fall of 2015 with YWCA’s participation in the Affinity Credit Union Business for Good crowdfunding campaign. The campaign raised $10,000 from more than 500 community donations. Donors also had opportunity to vote on the store’s new name.