Regina YWCA asks public for help with $4.1 million in funding

Regina YWCA asks public for help with .1 million in funding
Regina YWCA asks public for help with .1 million in funding

Before the YWCA Regina Kikakihtânaw Centre can help women and children, it needs help from the community.

Kikakihtânaw was named in a ceremony by YWCA knowledge keeper Nina Wilson. It means ‘we all succeed.’

Planning for the new center began in 2017. Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen, CEO of the Regina YWCA, said the building was fully funded by 2022, but the pandemic has increased costs.

“Our building was fully funded a few years ago with $54 million,” she said.

“It was celebrated here on location with a garden party. Since then, escalation and inflation have driven the cost up to $70 million. We are now $4.5 million short.”

The YWCA has covered most of its $16 million deficit through individual donors, corporate donors and assistance from the City of Regina.

YWCA CEO Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen (L) says the new facility was fully funded in 2022. But post-pandemic inflation pushed the price tag from $54 million to $70 million. June 28, 2022 (Lisa Schick/980 CJME)

Construction of the new building is approximately 85 percent complete and the YWCA expects to vacate its old building on McIntyre Street and move into its new home in early November.

But that means the YWCA has less than eight weeks to reach its goal.

“On top of the government funding, the YWCA has raised over $18 million in the community,” Coomber-Bendtsen said. “So we’ve seen a tremendous amount of support. People really believe in this project, see the value of it and the potential to really change generations of families in our community, so we’re confident that the community will help us get to the finish line.”

Coomber-Bendtsen said the public fundraising campaign has started and she encouraged everyone to get involved.

“We have a beautiful website called,” she explained. “It has a fly-through of the entire building. There are so many ways and opportunities to be a part of this project to be there for her, to be there for her family. So I really encourage people to check it out, make a donation, tell your friends, share it on social media, and help us see this project through to the end.”

The building was created with people who have experienced significant trauma in mind. Coomber-Bendtsen explained that it was designed to deinstitutionalize the services that women often seek.

“There are really fascinating and interesting aspects of it that are traumatic and that make it feel like home, that make it feel cozy and less like an institutional response,” she said.

“The whole building is about preventing people from needing shelter in the first place. We have consistently turned away over 4,000 women and children from our shelters over the last five years. We know that if we don’t do something different, we will just keep adding more shelter beds and more women and children who need them and more people on our waiting list.”

Children are an important part of the new YWCA building. Lower sinks and windows were installed with little ones in mind. (Nicole Garn/980 CJME)

She added that community involvement is an important part of the new facility.

“When the community that is not in crisis is interacting and building relationships with those who are in crisis, that sense of hope and being part of something bigger is life-changing,” she said. “There’s a lot of community space here. We have a coffee shop as a social enterprise, there’s a multipurpose room, there’s a playground for the community to use, so it’s really a public building as well. We think that’s essential to stopping the cycle of shelters.”

The new facility will provide many services to people who need them.

Cubbies for kids at the new YWCA in Regina. (Nicole Garn/980 CJME)

“The Kikakihtânaw Centre will house the YWCA Regina, our domestic violence shelter, our homeless and children’s shelter, and 72 temporary, affordable second-phase homes,” Coomber-Bendtsen said.

“It will also house our outreach center and community programs. This includes a youth center with an on-site family physician in partnership with The Nest. It will also have mental health counselors and drop-in programs for youth ages 14 to 24. The space will also house mobile crisis services in the city and two child care centers, so 180 child care spaces. As an act of reconciliation, the YWCA built a healing and sweat lodge in partnership with All Nations Hope Network, which provides indigenous healing, medicine, and elder care to the community.”

The YWCA is set to open for childcare on September 3. Women seeking assistance will be able to use the new building starting October 3.