BREAKING: For International Women’s Day, 27 organizations advancing women’s equality call on City Council to make Ottawa a Sanctuary City! A sanctuary is about gender justice and women’s equality. Email Mayor Watson and Council to show your support at

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#IWD2017 #SanctuaryCityOttawa #ottpoli

March 8, 2017

To Mayor Watson and Ottawa City Council,

On this International Women’s Day, we the undersigned want to express our support for declaring Ottawa a Sanctuary City.

As organizations dedicated to ending violence against women and promoting gender equality, we understand the importance of removing barriers that women face in accessing the services and supports they need to live safe, healthy, full lives. Every day, we work with women trying to leave violent or abusive situations, living in poverty, struggling to feed, house and care for themselves and their families. Some of the women we work with and/or their family members have precarious immigration status and as a result, they often do not access the city services and supports they need for fear that information about their immigration status might be shared with immigration enforcement and put them at risk of detention or deportation. This can include not accessing women’s shelters, counselling services, public health services, food banks, emergency services, city recreation programs, and even public transit.

We know from experience that immigration status compounds the inequality women already face, and that this can have negative and dangerous consequences for their safety, health, wellbeing, and dignity, and that of their families. We are committed to undoing these harms and building a city that is safe and inclusive for all women. We believe the City of Ottawa should do the same.

Declaring Ottawa a Sanctuary City, and taking concrete steps to ensure the successful implementation of such a policy, would be tremendous step forward in building the inclusive city we all want. Council has the ability to make this a reality – we hope you will seize the opportunity.


Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women
City for All Women Initiative
Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes
VAW Management Committee
Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre
Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity
Carlington Community Health Centre
CFS Ottawa
Cornerstone – Housing for Women
Family Services Ottawa
Harmony House
Immigrant Women Services Ottawa
Interval House of Ottawa
Jewish Family Services Ottawa
Kind Space
Maison d’amitié
Minwaashin Lodge
Nelson House
Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre
Ottawa Victim Services
Planned Parenthood Ottawa
Rae of Light Havens
Sexual Assault Network of Ottawa
Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa
Somerset West Community Health Centre
Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre / Chrysalis House
Women’s Initiatives for Safer Environments