Part art project and part community research, The EmpowerHER: a women's map to the city included a series of personal and collective maps made by local women to make visible their feelings and emotions about the city in which they live. The participatory project aimed to recentre the voices, everyday knowledge and authority of women in the community. We started with four questions:

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Where do you feel safe?

Where is there beauty?

Where do you feel unsafe?

Where are important community services?

These maps identify many interests including spots of beauty and social connection or problematic areas of concern where a woman may feel unsafe when alone or with small children.   These maps also locate existing emergency resources and crisis services. While each workshop resulted in vastly different aesthetics and focus, preliminary findings include:

  • expressions of value regarding the natural environment and the need for more safe public space;

  • varying perceptions of safety based foot or car traffic;

  • and a deficit of gender specific support in existing family, health, and crisis community services.

The project provided a creative method for critical reflection and engagement between women for knowledge exchange within a community context. A public artwork outcome will disseminate the findings to women, community organisations and people who live in Kamloops.

EmpowerHER: a women's map to the city was developed as a community research partnership between United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo and Thompson Rivers University.  Additional support was provided by the City of Kamloops Social Planning, United Steelworkers Local 7619, Thompson Rivers University Student Union, Elizabeth Fry Society Housing, JUMP and My Place Day Shelters, and the many women who participated. 


This project has been approved by the Thompson Rivers REB Research Ethics Board with lead investigator Prof Will Garrett-Petts, Faculty of Arts\RIGS, as part of the project 'Developing Interpretive Schema for Cultural Maps'. File Number: 101785, valid until February 06, 2019.