Ikwe, Indigenous Safe-Ride Service For Women, Can’t Keep Up With Need

Lifestyle
Christine Brouzes, a co- director of Ikwe Safe Rides - Women Helping Women, is photographed outside Winnipeg's notorious Main Street hotels, March 28, 2018.

WINNIPEG — Jackie Hartog opens the door to her white van as she pulls out her cellphone, checking the Ikwe Safe Rides Facebook group to see where she is heading next.

She’s been volunteering with the Winnipeg non-profit for about two years and has provided transportation for women around the city.

“It’s fantastic. I always tell the women that, during the day, I work with kids. So I’m always talking with kids, that’s my job,” Hartog said with a laugh. “Then I go out in the van and they do me a humongous favour. They talk to me, I talk to them. I listen, they listen to me.”

Hartog was one of the first drivers to get behind the wheel when Ikwe was founded in 2016 after Indigenous women came forward about their safety concerns in taxicabs.

More than 46,000 rides

Ikwe co-director Christine Brouzes was also an early volunteer after facilitating a national roundtable for the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Brouzes left that meeting feeling helpless.

“I heard about Ikwe from a friend and a light bulb went off. I thought this is what I can do,” Brouzes said. “I felt that if I could help keep one woman safe by providing a safe transportation ride for her, then that would be my tiny pebble in the river to help this situation.”

Ikwe — which means woman in the Anishinaabemowin language — has now provided more than 46,000 rides. The Facebook-based group has more than 15,600 members and 43 drivers.

I’ve been in a cab before and the driver pulled over and said, ‘Do you want to go for a drink?’ and I said ‘No, take me home, my husband is waiting.’

Many of Ikwe’s passengers share stories about inappropriate sexual comments while taking taxis and Brouzes said a small number of women have had violent encounters.

Diane Marr is a regular passenger, using the service to get groceries and even go out of town for work as an actress.

“I’ve been in a cab before and the driver pulled over and said, ‘Do you want to go for a drink?’ and I said ‘No, take me home, my husband is waiting’,” said Marr, who wasn’t married. “I said that because I felt unsafe.”

Drivers, riders screened

Anyone identifying as a woman can request access to the group and go through a vetting process. Once in, passengers post a request saying where they’d like to go. A …read more

Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel

      

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