Edmonton SafeWalk helps Muslim women feel safe in the city

After several attacks on Black, Muslim women in Edmonton, a new initiative aims to make women feel safe while out and about in the city. 

Edmonton SafeWalk is a new program by Sisters Dialogue, a grassroots organization that provides culturally safe spaces and supports for Muslim women and girls. The program offers a buddy system for Muslim women, especially Black women,  when they are  walking around or running errands in the city.

“The idea that people are safer in numbers and on walking together,” said Aisha Ali, board member at Sisters Dialogue.

Ali said the program was created in response to the attacks on Black, Muslim women in the city over the past number of years.

3:49A new pilot program aims to support Muslim women who are worried about their safety

A new initiative aims to make the streets safer for racialized women in Edmonton. SafeWalk is a pilot program launching this weekend. Local grassroots organization Sisters Dialogue is behind it, and Aisha Ali is a board member.

Somali Canadian woman was attacked in June last year, a Black, Muslim woman was attacked in northeast Edmonton on New Year’s day, and Ali said there are many others that escaped headlines. 

“Of all the things that have been happening against Muslim women, in particular Black Muslim women, there has been an increased sense of fear and hyper vigilance within our community,” she said.

In closed women-only groups on Facebook, Muslim women shared tips to keep themselves safe, including keeping personal alarms, asking about carrying pepper spray or carrying sticks while going on walks. 

Sisters Dialogue heard the concerns and decided to do something. The program works by pairing a Muslim woman with a volunteer who will accompany them while out on a walk or running errands. 

The volunteers for the program are selected through a rigorous process, Ali said. They are interviewed by Sisters Dialogue and EFCL and have to provide a criminal record check. 

“They also go through some training just to make sure that they’re not causing more harm to the vulnerable people that reach out in looking for support,” she said.

Although SafeWalk is aimed at protecting Black, Muslim women, Ali said the program is open to anyone who wants to feel safe while going out into the city. 

The pilot of the program launches in Northeast Edmonton communities like Bannerman, Fraser and South Clareview. 

The program launches on Saturday (June 17) at the Bannerman Community League hall with a community bazaar showcasing Muslim women-owned local businesses and free halal food.

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