BCWLE is proud to partner with the VPD’s Women’s Personal Safety Team (WPST). BCWLE supports the work of the WPST members in decreasing gender based violence through their mission: to educate, inspire and empower women to take ownership of their personal safety.
In 2012, the first WPST workshop was created and conducted by Inspector Colleen Yee and her sister Detective Alice Yee. The workshop taught the basics of personal safety and violence prevention and was designed to be accessible for all participants, regardless of physical ability and prior knowledge. Participants lauded the simple, yet effective tactics taught by women for women. Through this positive experience grew demand for more workshops.
Since then, the team has grown to 28 female VPD members. They have conducted 130 community based workshops and educated over 5,400 women in Vancouver on the requisite skills necessary to defend themselves in potentially threatening and/or violent situations.
Members of the WPST have found that the workshops have proven invaluable in establishing trust with women in marginalized communities who may be apprehensive of the police.
As well as instructing participants on the 4 A’s of personal safety: Awareness, Assessing, Anticipating and Acting, members of the WPST have found that the workshops have proven invaluable in establishing trust with women in marginalized communities who may be apprehensive of the police. Some participants may have been incarcerated, had members of their family arrested or have been victims of crime themselves and as such unwittingly associate police officers with traumatic memories. The workshops provide these community members with a fun, interactive and welcoming experience which helps to establish a deeper trust with law enforcement.
The team has also supported other police agencies by providing workshops in nearby jurisdictions and has even hosted a delegation of female officers from the Ukraine. WPST hopes to provide their knowledge to other agencies to decrease gender based violence not just in Vancouver but in Canada and around the world.
WPST is continuing to recruit new instructors and expand the program. Moving forward, WPST plans to apply a youth-specific lens to the workshops as well as incorporate leadership development in young women through mentorship opportunities.