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Our journey on the path of cultivating hope
Since the inception of PearlSpace, our members have been strong advocates in the community, raising awareness about the issue of violence against women, Two Spirit, gender-diverse, non-binary, trans people, and children/youth.
PearlSpace (formerly the Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society) is a grassroots organization that was created on October 7, 1981 and is dedicated to the prevention of violence experienced by individuals. Our aim is to cultivate hope and support survivors impacted by violence or abuse.
A collective of amazing women, including Elsie Andersen, Mary Billy, Marie Campbell, Mary Reed and Sandra Bauer, were all instrumental in establishing the first Women’s Centre located in Squamish, BC. From 1981-1990 this initial Drop-In Centre provided information, support and referrals to serve the community. This is now one of two PearlSpace Drop-In Centres which serves women, Two Spirit, gender-diverse, non-binary, trans people and children/youth. There is also a Drop-In Centre located in Whistler, BC.
In 1991 Dianne Faux, Melany Crowston and Marie McKinney, the founded the organizations Transition House program and following that, established an emergency shelter program which provided temporary emergency shelter for individuals fleeing violence in the Sea to Sky Corridor. The program relied on dedicated volunteers and the use of partner hotels, plus a 24-hour on-call service.
It was in 1993 that the Society received a grant from the Ministry of Social Services to rent a two-bedroom apartment which made it possible to hire minimal staff to manage the new shelter. This shelter becomes known as Pearl’s Place, named after the late Pearl Souster who passed away in 1992 and is recognized within the community for her service and support to survivors. Pearl was known for taking individuals in need of a safe space to stay into her home. In 1995 this shelter moved into a three-bedroom rental home which was named Pearl’s Place Transition House and this name remains today.
With the support of the local Credit Union and their Safe House Campaign fundraising efforts, The organization purchased a permanent home for Pearl’s Place Transition House in 1996. More recently this Transition House has undergone renovations and expansion updating it to be more sustainable and supportive for survivors.
Other 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.
Over the more than four decades of work in the region, the organization has continually evolved and expanded and today, PearlSpace serves the entire Sea to Sky Corridor and Stl’atl’imx regions. We provide emergency house programs, 24-hour response services, sexual assault response and prevention, drop-in centres, outreach services, support, resources, referrals, advocacy, multicultural outreach services, in-school violence prevention education, and PEACE counselling. In addition to our PearlSpace Drop-In Centres located in Squamish and Whistler, we operate Pearl’s Safe Home in Pemberton and continue to operate Pearl’s Place Transition House in Squamish. We are also the proud operators of Pearl’s Value & Vintage, our social enterprise in Squamish that funds much of our important community work.
PearlSpace 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 30 years.