The first shelter for women in Ottawa

Abuse and violence have been around at all times. In the old days, it was not customary to talk about it. It was shameful, humiliating and disgraceful, so many preferred to keep silent and tolerate this attitude. But it couldn’t go on like this forever. In the second half of the 20th century, one of the first shelters for women who had suffered violence appeared in Ottawa, where they could find support and protection. Learn more at

History of the Cornerstone shelter for women

The Cornerstone shelter for women victims of violence was first established in 1983. Initially, the help center housed only three beds. It was located in the basement of an Ottawa church on Sandy Hill. Over time, this place has become a genuine lifesaving center for victims of abuse and the first shelter for women.

For many years, the shelter worked through the support of the church. During this time, Cornerstone has significantly expanded, improving its program to help women, including its services and transitional housing facilities. In the 21st century, Ottawa’s Cornerstone shelter for women can house over a hundred victims at a time. For the convenience of its residents, Cornerstone has expanded its housing throughout the city. In the 21st century, it is represented by five housing communities across Canada’s capital city. Over 80 professionals and about two hundred volunteers provide qualified help to women victims of abuse.

The primary goal of the Cornerstone center is to help people who have suffered from abuse. At this center, all of them can regain physical, emotional and psychological health to find peace and harmony in their souls, be rehabilitated, and continue with their lives to the fullest. Thanks to such a help center, including several other institutions providing support to victims of and fighting against violence, Canada’s capital city is becoming a safe place to live.

At Cornerstone, help and temporary housing are available to anyone, regardless of their sex, race, religion, orientation, or anything else.

Cornerstone’s activities in the 21st century

The Cornerstone shelter was not only the first shelter in Canada’s capital city, but in the 21st century, it has become the largest shelter for women in the whole of Ottawa. This facility accepts women, both victims of abuse and also those who have lost their homes.

In 2020, with the spread of the pandemic, the number of homeless women in the Ottawa area increased substantially by 17%. But the Cornerstone shelter, in partnership with a local organization called Shepherds of Good Hope, has created additional space for Ottawa’s homeless and Coronavirus-affected resident women. In early 2020, the shelter had only 61 beds, but within a month of the pandemic, it had expanded to 125 beds.

For many years, over a thousand women have become homeless every year in Canada’s capital city. Each year about three hundred women apply to the Cornerstone shelter. Here they are provided with an entirely fledged rehabilitation program, primarily housing, various information programs, support programs, various services, etc. Moreover, the shelter offers a specialized space where women who have suffered can find complete safety and heal themselves.

The shelter has saved many lives. It is an affordable place to rehabilitate and start a new life. For example, just one night in an Ottawa hospital costs over a thousand dollars, while one night in jail costs about five hundred dollars. At the Cornerstone shelter, women can pay for housing starting at only nineteen dollars and stay as long as they need to get back on their feet.