Notice of Special Resolution:
Proposed Changes to WKWA Society Constitution and Bylaws
Dear Members of the West Kootenay Women’s Association,
This year, at our Strategic Planning 2018-2021, the Nelson & District Women’s
Centre (NDWC) prioritized a review of our Constitution and Bylaws, which govern
the operation of the society and membership of the WKWA.
A full review of the Constitution and Bylaws was conducted to evaluate if they
accurately represent WKWA and provide clear and sufficient detail on the
operation as a society.
The following recommendations were brought before the Coordinating Collective
● Update our Constitution and Bylaws to reflect our current practices;
● Formalize our already existing commitment to practice inclusivity, which
means actively including trans, two-spirit, intersex and non-binary people,
hereby referred to as marginalized genders.
NDWC has been working toward being a progressive, intersectional feminist model
and resource for our community and beyond. This means we are actively working to
be more inclusive of all women and marginalized genders affected by colonial
patriarchal violence. In conjunction with this letter is a document that helps readers
understand terms that are used and you are encouraged to seek out more
information regarding terms that obviously have much more complex
literature than the definitions given here.
In acknowledging that our organization operates on the unceded Sinixt
tum’xula7xw (territory), we understand that there are two governing laws of this
territory: Whuplak’n (the law of the land), and Smum iem (loosely translated to
‘belongs to the women’). However, with great honour comes great responsibility. All
the beauty that surrounds us, such as the mountains, trees, and rivers belong to the
women, but so does the pain and strife that exists on this territory.
Like feminism, the NDWC has gone through many changes over the past 40+ years.
In 2002 the NDWC made an important move and became one of the first, if
not the first, women’s centre to be inclusive to trans women. In 1998 one study found
that 50% of trans people surveyed disclosed having been raped or assaulted by a
partner, and 31% reported being survivors of domestic violence. Trans people suffer
discrimination from the same gender based system as all women, and in many of the
same ways. At this time we amended our bylaws to reflect our commitment towards
the safety and well being of trans women, acknowledging that all women deserve
access to services.
In 2016, NDWC continued its commitment towards inclusivity by successfully
obtaining funding and creating our Trans Resource and Community Engagement
Space (TRACES) drop-in program. Inclusivity means actively including those most
marginalized among your service-users, staff, volunteers, board members, and
general membership, and you cannot create policy for trans people without trans
consultation, involvement and leadership.
In 2016 we began hiring those openly identifying as trans and non-binary; we began
running the workshop, Trans 101 , hosted by Trans Connect, in an attempt to bring
more awareness to those unfamiliar with how the gender binary plays an integral
role in patriarchal structures; and in 2018 we hired our first non-binary co-Director.
NDWC continues to provide safe space and resources with and for the TRACES
program and those who access it.
Trans people have existed in ancient and modern societies and many trans people
live in constant fear of being discovered, for fear of losing employment, housing,
services, family and children. “As many lesbians know, hiding one’s identity
reinforces a deep sense of shame and seriously limits one’s sense of entitlement.”
Not naming those who are in need of, and accessing our services is perpetuating
violence through identity erasure and making our community, and society at large, a
less safe place for those who are affected by patriarchal violence.
Trans people have difficulty finding jobs and places to live. It is difficult to get
housing without a stable job, and it is difficult to get a job without a stable residence.
Because they are required to show identification for both, additional barriers exist
for trans people. Trans people have difficulty finding restaurants where they don’t
get hassled, bathrooms they can use, and clubs they can socialize. They are denied
access to social services and medical care; they are harassed by police and
bureaucrats; they are assaulted, raped and murdered. When trans people are
homeless, or in need of emergency shelter, they can rarely make sue of the safety
“Women’s organizations are very familiar with the short and long term effects of
pervasive discrimination and violence. The impact on the individual is profound,
shaping one’s concept of self and the world. Low self-esteem, body hatred,
self-injury, alcohol and drug use, and conflict with the law are some after-effects.”
Damage is further exacerbated by isolation. Chronic depression and suicide are also
common: in one report over 70% of trans folk considered suicide and up to 20% had
attempted suicide at least once. However, the real need for trans inclusion is based
in the right of trans people to be full participants in society, the obvious need for use
of the services, and the contributions that trans people make to women’s
Since 2002, there have been several legal precedents to support trans inclusion and
human rights commissions taking progressive positions on the issue. In fact, much
funding is currently only available to those who embrace progressive policies and
adhere to the human rights acts. Human rights philosophy and rulings recognize
that the discomfort of others is not a legitimate reason to exclude someone from
services or full participation in society. “ Discrimination cannot be used to create a
comfortable environment for one part of the population, at the expense of another.
We do not exclude lesbians because some heterosexual women are homophobic and
we cannot exclude trans and intersex people because some non-trans women are
“It is clear that earlier experiences of dominant western feminism were drawn from
predominantly white, middle class, and heterosexual women. Hence, the
movement’s agenda was driven by, and served, particular women, not the majority
of women. Despite the best of intentions, many women have been, and continue to
be, marginalized within the women’s movement. Therefore, we need to continue
to struggle to ensure that all women and marginalized genders can access all services
Although we have been engaging in these practices for several years, the
constitution and bylaws were not amended to reflect this. We feel it is important
that our constitution and bylaws are up to date and reflect the work we are doing.
The following are amendments to our constitution to include those who we have
been including formally since 2002, and to add that a as feminist organization it is
also our duty to be confronting, addressing and challenging the impacts of colonial
1. The purposes of the Society are:
a. To promote equitable treatment of women and marginalized genders in the belief
that everyone has a right to control over their social, economic and
b. To work together with women and marginalized genders of every ethnicity, class,
sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, age, size, spiritual or
c. To confront, address, and challenge cultural biases that disadvantage women and
marginalized genders impacted by dominant colonial patriarchal
d. To render service of educational nature to communities of Nelson and district to
bring about feminist ideals, gender equity and social justice.
d. To establish resources for women and marginalized genders.
e. To co-operate with other organizations which have objective similar to the
objectives of the Association; and to support mutual aid initiatives
created by NDWC members/participants.
f. To operate as a non-profit organization to administer employ its property, assets,
and rights, for the purpose of promoting, or aiding in the promotion of,
For many years now, as far back as six that we have found, men have been permitted
to be members. We are proposing to include all genders as part of our membership,
but also to add a sentence to differentiate between voting and non-voting privileges
and rights. We do not feel that cis men should have the right to vote and make
decisions regarding the women’s centre. The following are our bylaw amendment
PART II – MEMBERSHIP
3. Membership in good standing is available to anyone, regardless of gender, upon
payment of the annual dues as set at the Annual General Meeting or by performing
four hours of volunteer contribution and upon stating agreement with the
objectives and policies of the West Kootenay Women’s Association.
PART III – MEETING OF MEMBERS
9. Only women, trans, intersex, 2 spirit and non-binary (hereby referred to as
marginalized genders) members in good standing shall be entitled to vote at the
Annual General Meeting and shall be notified thereof. Cis-men members do not
have voting rights and privileges.
We encourage all members to review both the original and proposed Constitution
and Bylaws and vote in favour of amending them to accurately reflect our work as
feminists. Social justice for women will not be realized until all forms of
discrimination are eliminated, including racism, trans-misogyny, classism, and
Voting process :
● Eligibility : Must be a woman, cis or trans
● Voting Card: Come to our AGM or use our voting form and (e)mail your
vote to us before September 26, 2018
● (E)mail to:
Nelson & District Women’s Centre
420 Mill St.
Nelson, BC V1L 4R9
Thank you to all who support the Nelson & District Women’s Centre!
The Staff and Coordinating Collective
∞ We acknowledge and honor that we reside and work on traditional Sinixt tum-xula7xw (territory) ∞