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My City, My Safety! Wins the Best Practice Award

31 Mai

Women in Cities International’s My City, My Safety! was awarded Women’s Transforming Cities Best Practice awards 2013. A big thank you to Prabha Khosla for the nomination and to Women Transforming Cities for the recognition! We would like to thank the project coordinators, Emma and Simone, for their vision, compassion, initiative and dedication. Furthermore, we are very grateful for all the support from the schools and local partners, and for the financial support provided by Status of Women Canada. FINALLY, we want to take this opportunity to thank all the girls and boys from F.A.C.E., St-Luc and St-Laurent high schools, who participated in this project. Your commitment, hard work and creativity made My City, My Safety a success!


SUPER-Fete for the closing of My City, My Safety!

15 Mai

Poster Super-Fête
 Super-Fête Poster

On may 10th 2013, we celebrated the end of My City, My Safety! at the Studio No Bad Sound. We celebrated two years filled with activities (over 50 activities!), emotions (non quantifiable) and many memorable moments (please see previous posts for memorable moments!)

Studio No Bad Sound
Studio No Bad Sound

The youths came to the studio where we were waiting for them with a big graffiti cloth and a lot of paint\stencils\glitter (!) for them to let their imaginations run wild once more.

Toile à graffitis
The graffiti cloth

We took the opportunity to reflect on these past two years with participants, but mostly, we laughed a lot and had a great time. We were also really happy and proud to present the project’s final publication (available in both French and English very soon on the WICI website,, and the youths were able to share amongst each other their experiences and initiatives, whether it was the Nomad Box (also present on this day), the « Why Women? » magazine, or the Flashmob (soon to be available on video).

We were also fortunate to witness a live performance from Montreal electro-pop artist Zoe K., a F.A.C.E alumni.

Zoe K.
Zoe K.

As well as an impressive and energizing performance by a group of dancers from the Maison des Jeunes Côtes des Neiges which made all of us really want to jump 😉

Le groupe de danseuses
The dansers

But most of all, it’s not easy describing on this blog the extent to which this experience has affected us at WICI (and I hope, the youths with whom we worked for these two years). This evening gave us a chance to say « see you soon », and most importantly, to thank these amazing teens for all that they taught us. We really hope that their participation in this project will have inspired them to continue engaging with their communities, to take their rightful place as young leaders, to express themselves loud and clear when something is important to them, and to use all their creativity when lobbying for social justice in the future.



Things that happened in April…

24 Avr

Ever since the launch of the « Why Women? » magazine by the Cardinal girls, a lot of things happened with My City, My Safety!

We went to the YMCA in Hochelaga Maisonneuve for an intensive workshops with girls attending Chomedey de Maissonneuve Hich School for a safety audit walk and some other awesome arts & crafts, picture collaging stuff.

Dans les locaux du Y
At the YMCA

The young women from FACE finished their mural of inspirational quotes , « the Fountain of Words »

Les citations inspirantes de grandes dames et grands hommes ayant inspiré les filles qu'elles désiraient transmettre aux générations suivantes de FACE
Great women and men’s quotes the girls wanted to share with the next generation of FACE students

The St-Luc group put together an activist Flash Mob with 15 other youths: before the eyes of hundreds of their classmates, they performed a beat and recited verses on themes they had identified as important in their community, from cyber-bullying to sexism and homophobia. (Stay tuned for the video…)

The Cardinal girls also came up with new creative interventions thanks to the support of our partner Equitas: they created postcards and t-shirts to reclaim freedom of speech, to fight against racism and homophobia.

Carte postale de Sabrina et Santa
Sabrina and Santa’s postcard

We didn’t even notice, but in the meantime, the project was drawing to a close… and so here we are, two years later, taking stock of all that was done, and organizing a closing party for a project that became so close to our hearts.. It is impossible to sum up all the lessons in a few lines, so we will put up a link for the final publication here vert soon, as well as a last (and probably more emotional!) post.

L'amour c'est l'amour! Carte postale de Sada
Love is Love postcard by Sada

Launch of « Why Women? »

7 Mar

On the 28th of February, they were a small yet to-be-reckoned with group of youth at the Côte Vertu metro station, chanting slogans such as « Your mom is a woman! », and carrying placards which read « What would you do without women? ». Without a doubt, the confused STM staff won’t forget them anytime soon…

The young activists

The young activists

The girls from Cardinal high-school came supported by a group of their friends to manifest peacefully around the metro station, to ask for respect for women and girls, the end of harassement and youth profiling in the neighbourhood, as well as freedom of speech.

Arriving at the metro

Arriving at the metro

While there, the girls (and their very supportive guy friends 🙂 also distributed copies of « Why Women? » to passersby. Speaking of passersby, they were sometimes amused, sometimes curious, but also kind of … well .. not cool.

Hawa holds a placard, while Sabrina is holding the magazine

Hawa holds a placard, while Sabrina is holding the magazine

Some people thought we were part of those « irritating red squares », because of which a well intentioned STM employee kindly asked us to manifest calmly, « more like women » (« because that is your cause, right? ») to avoid any confusion with other student protests. To this we bit our tongues really hard to make sure the youth could continue their peaceful march, but oooohhhhh how we would have liked to underline we WERE a student group and that there is nothing wrong with that, red square or no red square. And don’t even get me started on that « manifesting like women » bit ! (end rant)

so proud :-) Berekhya, one of us animators, and Santa

so proud 🙂 Berekhya, one of us animators, and Santa Félicia

On that note, this is the close of the « My City, My Safety! » Cardinal project chapter. It is a little bittersweet for us, to have supported the girls in producing something beautiful and profound, but also to always want to keep doing more things with them, for longer. We can only hope that these young women will continue being inspired and inspiring (scratch that, we know they are!!), in their lives, and for other young women and girls.

And this may be the end of the project, but hey, let’s keep touch, right ladies 😉

To be continued…

In a parc near you…

22 Fév

This week, we prepared the launch of the Cardinal Girls’ magazine, « Why Women? » ( « Pourquoi les femmes? »)

Preparing banners

Preparing banners

Next Thursday, the girls will be inviting other Cardinal students and we’ll all be heading to a parc in their neighbourhood. The girls had identified that parc as a place they liked to hang out in, but where they were also victims of profiling and harassement. The goal will be to launch the magazine, of course, but to reclaim the parc, for them, for youth, for the right to just « hang out! »

Action plan

Action plan

Now, we just have to hope really hard that mother nature will be on our side! Let’s hope that groundhog was right..

Another year, another successful National Day of Action

20 Fév

On the 15th of February, the young ladies from F.A.C.E participated in a second National Day of Action, organized by the Girls’ Action Foundation. Last year, the girls had participated in a lunch-discussion with ex homeless men who had stayed at the Benedict Labre House, and members of the NGO Action Femmes Handicapées Montréal. Then, they had conducted a safety audit walk in a down-town neighbourhood, all of which had inspired the themes covered in their Nomad Box.

This year, the girls undertook a project which had taken ground in their minds quite some time ago. During their initiation to the principles of urbanisme, citizen initiatives and public art to make cities safer and more inclusive for girls, the murale concept stuck with them. In Montreal, we are pretty spoiled in that department: a beautiful murale instantly uplifts any dull / ugly space (just saying it like it is!). This, in turn, increases the number of people using that space, and more people, means usually means more safety.

Ok, so a murale… What does that entail exactly?

The girls in the Student Bistro, during one if their planning meetings.

The girls in the Student Bistro, during one if their planning meetings.

This is how they came to identify a space in their school which they had previously avoided due to its seediness. Lucky for us, this space happened to have plenty of walls (!!!), some of them already being repainted in the original pleasant yellow-greenish tinge. The girls organized several planing, conception, and organisation réunions as the Murale Committee, and managed to convince the school administration to grant them a wall. And so they needed a theme.

The original planning calendar, or project management 101

The original planning calendar, or project management 101

Ok, so a theme… So many to choose from…

Because this year’s National Day of Action theme was the transmission of culture, tradition or experience from generation to generation, we asked the girls what legacy they wished to leave to the next generation of F.A.C.E students. They decided they wanted to paint quotes which had inspired them and call their murale « the fountain of words » (because the wall was right above fountains, it called for some fancy wordplay 🙂

The initial design

The initial design

Once they had chosen their quotes, we realized that they were all the words of famous men. So we felt it would be important to broach the subject with the girls. Indeed, modern history teaches us, amongst other things, that the contribution of women to the world we live in have very rarely been recognized. This sad fact makes finding women’s quotes a little bit, well, daunting.

Finally, with a bit of help and a lot of Google, the inspiring quotes chosen by the girls were representative of all of society (I believe we do comprise of half of humanity, after all..) From Maya Angelou to Janis Joplin, the girls illustrated the words which made their soul sing.

Ze wall

Ze wall

Oh the concentration..

Oh the concentration..

Hard at work

Hard at work


Almost done!

Almost done!

We will be back at F.A.C.E on February 21st, as the girls will put the finishing touches on their murale. Pictures will soon follow.

In solidarity with the One Billion Rising Campaign, Women in Cities International releases two videos made by girls in Montreal

14 Fév

Press release – for immediate release – February 14th 2013

On February 14th 2013, One Billion will rise for a dancing revolution, a global strike, a call of solidarity to women across the world, and a refusal to accept gender based violence. The One Billion Rising Campaign is a global movement to rise against gender-based violence. One Billion women on the planet will be raped or beaten at one point in her lifetime.

In addition to joining the One Billion Rising Montreal gathering, Women in Cities International has been working with teenagers to prevent violence against women and girls in Canadian cities. This program, ‘My City, My Safety’, encourages youth to foster a critical consciousness and become active citizens in the development of safer and more inclusive cities, free of violence against women and girls.

Participants decided to use media to express their views on girls’ urban safety. In collaboration with Fanie St-Michel, artist and director of Conscience Urbaine, they created two videos to share with their communities: Bien dans ma Ville! – My City, My Safety!’ andCollective Love Letter for Girls’.

To support these young leaders, view their videos and share widely!


One Billion Rising