October 7, 1981: Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society is formed as a grassroots organization dedicated to the prevention of violence against women and support for women, children and youth impacted by violence or abuse.
1981–1990: Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society operated a Women’s Centre in Squamish providing information, support and referrals. A collective of women including Elsie Andersen, Mary Billy, Marie Campbell, Mary Reed and Sandra Bauer were instrumental in establishing the Women’s Centre.
1991: Dianne Faux, Melany Crowston and Marie McKinney, the founders of Pearl’s Place Transition House, completed Transition House worker training provided by Emily Murphy House, now known as Sage Transition House located in North Vancouver.
1992: The Women’s Emergency Shelter program was established. The program provided temporary emergency shelter for women fleeing violence in the Sea to Sky Corridor. The program relied on volunteers, using hotels and a 24-hour on-call service.
1993: Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society received a grant from the Ministry of Social Services to rent a two-bedroom apartment and hire minimal staff. The shelter became known as Pearl’s Place, after Pearl Souster, in recognition of her service and support to the women’s movement. Pearl was known for taking women in need of a safe space to stay into her home. Pearl passed away in 1992.
1995: Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society moved the shelter into a 3-bedroom rental home which became Pearl’s Place Transition House.
1996: With the support of the local credit union, and as a result of the Safe House Campaign fundraising efforts, Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society purchased the transition house.
Since Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society’s inception, our members have been strong advocates in the community, raising awareness about the issue of violence against women, pushing for affordable housing and working to create more resources to better meet the needs of women and children in the community.
Select accomplishments during our early years include spearheading the development of Castle Rock Housing in conjunction with the District of Squamish, BC Housing and Canada Mortgage Housing, being integral to starting up the Food Bank, and in partnership with other community organizations, establishing a Planned Parenthood Clinic, now known as the Safe Clinic.
We are continually evolving and expanding to better meet the needs of women and children. Today, Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society serves the entire Sea to Sky Corridor providing crisis support, resources, referrals, advocacy, multicultural outreach services, emergency transition housing and children, youth and family counselling. We operate women’s centres in Squamish and Whistler, a safe home in Pemberton and transition house in Squamish.
Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society would like to acknowledge our fearless founders for pioneering critical supports for women and children in the Sea to Sky Corridor, with special mention to Marie McKinney who has served the Society for over 24 years.