Women Providing a Safe Ride for Winnipeg’s Indigenous Women

April 16, 2018 10:24 am Last Updated: April 16, 2018 10:24 am

Jackie Hartog opens the door to her white van as she pulls out her cell phone, checking the Ikwe Safe Rides Facebook group to see where she will be 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 … I come home and I talk with kids,” 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 in response to Indigenous women in the city sharing stories about feeling unsafe in taxicabs.

Ikwe co-director Christine Brouzes was also an early volunteer, getting involved after facilitating a national roundtable for the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Brouzes left that meeting feeling like there was nothing she could do to help keep her Indigenous sisters safe. “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.”