Velma’s House: 24/7 Safe Space
Velma’s House is a place of safety, comfort and connection for women aged 18 and older, who are in need of immediate safety. To promote gender safety and equity in the space, we prioritize women and gender diverse folks who are often targets of gender based violence. Cisgender men who are in need of safety will be referred to a more appropriate service provider.
Velma’s House is a low-barrier space, meaning guests are not required to be sober during their visit. However, everyone is expected to contribute to an overall feeling of safety. While Velma’s House does not offer housing of any type, guests may visit as often as they like. The duration of each visit is determined at intake, and is dependent on needs. Folks who are in need of prompt or urgent medical care, psychiatric care or who are displaying violence in or around the building will be referred to a more appropriate service.
Velma’s House is an initiative led by Ka Ni Kanichihk and supported by a Steering Committee which includes: the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Manitoba Coalition of Families, the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre, Ma Mawi Chi Itata Centre, West Central Women’s Resource Centre, The Manitoba Harm Reduction Network, Indigenous Women’s Healing Centre, Wahbung Abinoonjiiag, as well as community advocates with lived and living experience.
The space is named in honor of Elder Velma Orvis, who worked closely with the community until passing into the Spirit World in 2020. It was the community who shared their wishes for the space to be named in her honour. It is our hope that the space embodies the unconditional love which Velma showed to everyone she met.
We exist to honour our relatives who are unsheltered, experiencing exploitation or violence, and support them in creating safe, healthy lives. We provide a nurturing 24/7 safe space led by survivors, where women can access basic needs, resources, compassion, and connection to culture.
Seven project values were created to guide and inform the actions, decisions, planning, and relationships at Velma’s House.
We know a sense of belonging and connection is important. We will provide an environment where people can feel safe to be who they are, feel welcome, and have a sense of belonging.
We will meet participants on their own terms, supporting the goals they identify. We will support shifts to safer and healthier lives if and when participants choose to make those shifts.
We will work to create a safe, non-judgemental environment. This includes creating space for different emotions, validating people’s experiences, and ensuring people feel safe to ask for what they need.
We see value in each other (participants, staff, and partners). We will support each other and communicate in ways that promote safety and good relationships.
We honour and are guided by the knowledge, skills, and experience of survivors. When survivors share their stories and experiences, they build trust and connection, create hope, and illuminate options. Their knowledge, skills, and experience are invaluable.
Be present with and for each other
Out of respect and care for each other, we will strive to be fully present, giving our full attention to the space and one another.
Being grounded in Indigenous cultures (including Indigenous Ways of Knowing and cultural practices) are critical to our work. We see culture as both a way of informing who we are and what we do and as a vehicle for healing and connection.
Guests of Velma’s House can access:
- traditional medicines, Elders, ceremony, and cultural ways of healing
- Hot meals, water, tea, coffee
- A safe place to rest, warm up or cool down
- Hygiene and harm reduction supplies
- Laundry and shower facilities
- Emergency clothing
- Companionship and company
- Referrals to EIA, Housing Programs, Health Care, etc.
Location and Hours
Velma’s House is located at 566 Bannatyne Ave. Services are provided on a drop in basis, and at times there is a wait time. Please call ahead if you’d like to inquire about wait times.
Hours of operation are Monday to Friday 24 hours, and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 11pm.
These hours will be extended over the next few months; updates will be provided via Ka Ni Kanichihk’s Facebook page, so please check back regularly. We hope to increase our hours of operation to 24/7 by Winter 2023.
Funding and Donations
This project has received funding by the City of Winnipeg, End Homelessness Winnipeg, Government of Canada, United Way, Women and Gender Equality Canada, the Province of Manitoba, TD Bank and the Canadian Women’s Foundation
Donations are accepted at the main door, on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (please call ahead if possible). We will gratefully accept the following items:
- pants / shorts
- shirts and sweaters / hoodies
- jackets of all kinds
- runners and flip-flops / winter boots
- hygiene supplies (small bottles of shampoo, soaps, lotions, pads/tampons/liners, etc.)
- Bras, socks and underwear (new, please)
- sample size makeup items
Please call ahead before donating other items.