About Ernestine’s

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About Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter

Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter was opened in 1983 by a group of community members who saw a need for a safe place for women and children fleeing violence and abuse.

The founders were pleased to name the shelter after Ernestine van Marle, a locl communtiy activist who gave them support and guidance as they began the shelter, and continues to support the shelter’s efforts in ending violence against women and children until her passing in 2006. Ernestine’s embodied all the characteristics that our shelter aspires towards: energetic, community-minded, supportive, and dedicated.

Our Mission: Why We Exist

Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter, an organization run by women, provides support and shelter for women and children escaping violence.

Ernestine’s assists women and children in rebuilding their lives by providing crisis intervention and a range of holistic support services, while acknowledging the multitude of issues facing survivors of abuse.

Ernestine’s adapts our services to honour diversity and the unique needs of the individual.

Ernestine’s promotes awareness, education and advocates for early intervention.

Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter: What We Do 

Ernestine’s is a 32-bed emergency shelter with 14 private bedrooms.

We provide a home for the women and their children – who stay with us from six months to over one year – until we find appropriate housing for them. During their stay, we provide them with all the necessities they might need (new bedding, clothes, school supplies, toiletries, baby supplies, prescriptions not covered by OHIP, loaded Presto cards, and anything else they might need).

In addition to shelter clients, we support over 400 women and children from across the GTA through our Outreach Program. The shelter’s Outreach clients have access to counselling services and programs as well as the shelter’s on-site donation rooms and food bank.

We provide a range of holistic services to our shelter and Outreach clients. Our services and programs include 24-hour crisis assistance, individual and group-based counselling support, skills exchange programs, Child & Youth programs, as well as legal, housing, and immigration support and advocacy.

Since we opened our doors in 1983, we have supported over 10,000 women and children.

Thanks to our supporters, last year (2019-2020) we were able to

  • Respond to 1,455 crisis calls
  • Provide shelter and support to 44 women and 47 children, who called Ernestine’s their home
  • Offer lifelines to 189 women and 277 children within the community through our Outreach Programs
  • Engage with children and youth – who form the majority of our clients – for individual support 2,237 times
  • Provide 908 advocacy engagements through our Housing, Legal, and Settlement Program
  • Engage with our community clients for individual support 546 times
  • Facilitate 454 visits to our on-site food bank

Our Guiding Principles

Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter recognizes the impact of violence on children, and acknowledges that the rights of children are separate and distinct from their parents.

Ernestine’s recognizes each woman’s right to self-determination.

Ernestine’s acknowledges that violence can be, physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual.

Ernestine’s is managed by a leadership team, and is a participatory organization accountable to the Board of Directors and stakeholders’.

Ernestine’s is a collectively managed organization accountable to our Board of Directors and Stakeholders.

Ernestine’s operates from an anti-racist /anti-oppressive feminist framework.

Ernestine’s ensures there is an equitable distribution, based on need, of all resources available to the shelter.


An Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Framework is:

A perspective that confronts all aspects of injustice and inequality within society’s institutions, structures, systems and practices, and is intended to understand and eradicate racism and oppression in all of its forms.

At Ernestine’s, we strive to provide accessible, appropriate, and relevant services to children, youth, and women within an anti-racism anti-oppression framework.


Strategic Priorities


We develop community partnerships with agencies and grassroots groups to enhance our excellent service delivery to women, youth and children. These strong partnerships will support community engagement and diversifying funding opportunities.


We develop and deliver, alongside our stakeholders, multi-platform education about gender-based violence. We will continue to use an anti-racism and anti-oppression framework for this education.

Financial Sustainability

We build a long-term sustainable funding model that supports Ernestine’s to deliver valuable services for women, youth and children impacted by violence.


Charitable Number: 10167 8969 RR0001

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