U of W program teaching women’s self-defense in light of downtown crime

While recent incidents – including an attack on two women at a downtown bus shelter earlier this month – have made many Winnipeggers concerned for their safety, a program out of the University of Winnipeg wants to give women and girls the confidence to defend themselves.Free women’s self-defense classes are being offered through Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre at the university’s RecPlex, and one university administrator told 680 CJOB Sunday the program has been a big success so far.Story continues below

Angeline Nelson, the U of W’s Director of Community Learning & Engagement, said the class started in connection with programming related to missing and murdered Indigenous girls, women and two-spirit people, but has since expanded to include students, staff and women in the community as well.READ MORE: Man arrested for assaulting women, Transit staff at downtown bus shelter“We’ve had a big response every time we’ve offered the class,” said Nelson.“We often think about what we can do to help women protect themselves. We didn’t see anywhere else that was offering a self-defense program for women for free.“It was really just seeing that need right away, prior to seeing the increase of some incidents, we were already starting to run this program.”The class is taught by Prof. Jason Parenteau, someone Nelson says is a “wonderful” teacher.“He’s a black belt jiu-jitsu professor. He’s teaching escape techniques, he’s giving them a voice, he’s teaching them self-confidence, he’s teaching them to defend themselves,” she said.“I think they’re really learning to have a voice, learning to say ‘stop’, and they’re learning about boundaries as well.”While the class is over for this semester, it’s likely more will be offered. Find out more here.WATCH: U of M offers women’s self-defense classes for students