YWCA Regina History
Supporting women and their families since 1910.
YWCA Regina has been part of the community for more than a century, established in March 1910 when the city was booming and a large population of newly-arrived young women needed a place of friendship and support. The YWCA Traveller’s Aid program was the first point of contact for these women, which included new immigrants. The YWCA helped newcomers connect with resources, community or family, and helped create a network for those who needed a place to belong.
Located downtown on Lorne Street beside Knox Metropolitan Church from 1912, the YWCA started dealing with people who had problems with alcohol misuse and people who were homeless after WWI. The YWCA continued to be a safe haven for girls coming to the city for education or employment.
YWCA Regina moved into its current home on McIntyre Street in 1970. The greatly expanded facilities supported a wide range of educational, residential, and recreational programs. Two swimming pools and a gymnasium were in constant use and many Regina residents fondly recall taking swimming lessons at YWCA.
More recent times brought a shift toward concerns with social housing and advancing leadership in women, children and youth. Our target has increasingly been populations who face barriers in their lives, supporting them in making safe and healthy choices.
The Isabel Johnson Shelter opened in 1983 in response to the needs of women fleeing domestic violence. The Kikinaw Residence began serving women needing a supportive housing situation whether for reasons of mental health, poverty, or addiction. In 2008, My Aunt’s Place opened on Lorne Street.to meet the needs of homeless women and their children.
In 2009, Kids in Transition Shelter (KITS) opened in partnership with the Ministry of Social Services to provide short-term shelter for children who have been removed from their homes.
In 2010, the pilot program Village Networks for Single Mothers was launched, and the 90-space Century Crescent Child Care Centre opened. In 2012, Parker Place opened as a transitional home for children and Evergreen House in 2013. In 2014, a new 51-space childcare centre was launched in partnership with the Lumsden Elementary School.
In 2015, Executive Director Deanna Elias-Henry retired after 18 years of leadership during which the YWCA enjoyed financial stability and operations tripled. Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen was appointed Chief Executive Officer in February 2015.
In 2016 our Outreach Program was created to assist women in working towards long-term housing stability. That year, work also began on the new Centre for Women and Families, a wraparound hub that will prevent women from entering crisis, support them if they are in crisis, and provide opportunities for healing. The position of Indigenous Relations Director was added to our senior staff in 2017. In 2019 we opened Blue Turtle Rock House as a short-term placement for up to five children while they wait for family reunification or other long-term living arrangements.
In over a century since YWCA Regina was established, much has changed, but we continue to respond to the immediate needs of women and children, stabilize crisis situations, build social networks, and connect women, youth and children with the resources they need to survive and thrive.