Nellie’s was named after Nellie McClung, Canada’s pioneer feminist who advocated to change the system for women’s right to vote in Canada. Incorporated in 1973, we have over 40 years of experience providing safety, shelter and support services to women in our community. We were one of the first shelters for women in the City of Toronto and opened our emergency shelter at a time where there were 400 beds for homeless men and only 40 beds for women.
During Nellie’s herstory, we have worked in partnership with other community organizations. We assisted in the development of the South Riverdale Child Parent Centre, Scarborough Distress Centre, The AIDS Committee of Metro Toronto, Casey House and the Danica House Project. Nellie’s wrote in support of Sistering, a new drop-in centre for women who are homeless, Phoenix Rising, a publication by and for psychiatric survivors, and the Anishnawbe Street Patrol.
Nellie’s supported the following community initiatives: The Coalition for the Establishment of Abortion Clinics, Jessie’s Centre for Teenagers, Margaret Fraser House, Cornerstone Women’s Hostel, Gerstein Crisis Centre, The Hostel Outreach Program, The Assaulted Women’s Helpline, Community Housing Supportive Services, Women’s Street Survivor Project, The Women’s Detox, The Alternative Housing Subcommittee, The Amparo Housing Project, The Adelaide Women’s Centre and The Clothes For Change Project. We were active in social justice and advocacy efforts during the Robin Voce Policy Inquiry into sexual assault by Police Officers, the Drina Joubert Inquiry, the Rupert Hotel Coalition and the Coalition for Justice for Graciela Montans.
Nellie’s was very involved in second-stage housing and operated four housing projects for women until 1995, when funding for this type of housing was eliminated. In November of 1998, Nellie’s restructured to address long-standing issues within the organization. We strengthened our mission to ensure an integrated feminist, anti-racist, anti-oppression framework was implemented throughout all aspects of our work at the Board, staff, volunteer, community and service levels. We have written a new chapter in Nellie’s herstory by paying attention to our past, learning from it, and making changes that have created a new future. Today our programs and services continue to be responsive to the needs of women and children marginalized by poverty, violence, homelessness and oppression. We continue to be active in the community working on issues at the local, provincial and federal levels to affect social, economic and political justice for women in our community.