Winnipeg safe-ride group heads out-of-town for family beach day

A Winnipeg ride-sharing group that focuses on providing safe transportation for Indigenous women made its first out-of town-trip to the beach on Saturday.

Ikwe Safe Rides organized its first out-of-town trip for families without access to a vehicle

Around 20 people, most of them children, boarded the bus for the Ikwe Safe Rides trip to Birds Hill Park Saturday. (CBC)

A Winnipeg ride-sharing group that focuses on providing safe transportation for Indigenous women made its first out-of town-trip to the beach on Saturday.

Ikwe Safe Rides rented a bus for trip to Birds Hill Provincial Park and opened it up to families who use its ride-sharing service.

"We have some people registered today who otherwise wouldn't get to go to the beach because they don't have a vehicle or they wouldn't feel safe paying a taxi," said Christine Brouzes, who is one of the group's directors.

About 20 people, most of them children, boarded the bus to the beach.

Ikwe Safe Rides was started by artist Jackie Traverse in 2016 to provide a ride-sharing service as an option for Indigenous women who might not feel safe using taxi services.

It began after a series of complaints about difficulty hailing cabs and accusations of rude behaviour experienced by Indigenous women in taxis.

Family's 1st beach trip in 2 years

For its first beach trip, the group charged a small registration fee to cover the cost of renting the bus. Brouzes said it also had donations to cover the fare for families who couldn't afford it.

"For some it's not even about the budget, it's the safe feeling, and this is a community event for us. We want to support and bring people together," she said.

Elora Anderson said her family signed up for the beach day with Ikwe because they don't have access to a vehicle to get out of the city. (CBC)

Elora Anderson said she registered as soon as she saw the posting about the beach day on the group's Facebook page. She said this is the first time her family is going to the beach in two years.

"This is pretty exciting for us to get out as a family and have a little fun in the sun," she said, adding her family doesn't have a vehicle.

She said her four-year-old son, Robert, loves the water and usually spends time at splash pads in the summer.

"As soon as we said we're going to the beach he just popped right up," she said. "He is really excited. He was born in the water, so he loves it."

Taxi drove off with son still inside

Anderson said she uses Ikwe around once a week because she doesn't feel safe taking a taxi. She said when her son was smaller, a cab driver drove away after letting her out while the child was still in the car.

"I had my laundry with me.… I told the driver my son was sleeping in the back and not to take off yet," she said. "I grabbed my laundry and put it on the step and as soon as I closed the trunk, he drove off with my son.

"I was beyond hysterical," she said. "I am not a runner … I ran after this cab driver and I was screaming and wailing and hollering all the way because I was frantic."

Anderson said she got her son back quickly, but hasn't wanted to use cabs since.

"That really makes me feel thankful we have Ikwe around to provide services for us," said the mom.

Ikwe said it plans on organizing more out-of-town beach days this summer.