History of SHNS
Early Centres in Nova Scotia
By July 1971, volunteers had formed the Family Planning Association of Nova Scotia, the forerunner to Sexual Health Nova Scotia. Members of this group, along with three enthusiastic university students, travelled around the province giving out information on birth control and researching attitudes towards it.
On October 22, 1974, the Family Planning Association of Nova Scotia became incorporated as Planned Parenthood Association of Nova Scotia. It was now a non-profit organization with funding from the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada.
At the same time, a group called the Metro Area Family Planning Association started providing 'well-woman' health care and distributing sexual health information around Halifax County. The Metro clinic became the first affiliate of Planned Parenthood Nova Scotia. It has gone through several name changes, finally becoming the Halifax Sexual Health Centre.
Groups around the province began applying for affiliate status with the provincial organization, including Pictou County Centre for Sexual Health (1979), Cape Breton Centre for Sexual Health (1979), Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland County (1981), Sexual Health Centre Lunenburg County (1988) and Sheet Harbour Sexual Health Centre (2000). Yarmouth also had a small centre between 2005 and 2014.
Some of the early centres had strong ties to feminist organizations. In the 80's, there was an affiliate from Clare-Argyle in Yarmouth County. The Cape Breton Centre for Sexual Health got off the ground when a woman's organization applied for funding to start family planning services. They received $120,000 in federal monies to hire an executive director, office manager and public educator. Second Story Women’s Centre in Bridgewater and LEA Place Women's Resource Centre in Sheet Harbour both started small affiliates of Planned Parenthood with services being provided from offices within the women's centres. Later, they both separated and became independant Centres.
Sexual Health Nova Scotia ~ Today and Tomorrow
The many names of the provincial organization, as well as its Member Centres, reflect a movement towards recognizing a more holistic view of sexual and reproductive health. It is more than just 'family planning' but a complex aspect of our well-being. Sexual Health Nova Scotia and its Member Centres do more than just give out free condoms and provide education on contraception - communities receive support on all aspects of sexual and reproductive health, including issues of sexuality such as gender and orientation.
All of the work done by Sexual Health Nova Scotia reflects a sex-positive, pro-choice, youth-positive, LGBTQA2S* friendly approach. Everyone who walks into Member Centres finds spaces that respect individual choice. Furthermore, all services are free.
Many things will evolve as laws and contraception options change - however, with adequate funding, Sexual Health Nova Scotia will continue its work to improve the well-being of our province.
See the Timeline to learn more about the history of SHNS.