Work continues on addressing violence against women

Shelly Ferguson
For the Lakeside Leader

Northern Haven Support Society recently wrapped up another ‘Prevention of Family Violence’ Month,’ which takes place every November in Alberta and across Canada. It began with painting Main Street purple, as our Outreach Team tied purple ribbons on the light poles along Main Street.

Northern Haven distributed purple ribbons to businesses throughout Slave Lake this year and set up booths at Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire and Sobey’s at the start of the month to hand out purple ribbons to the community and talk about the prevalence of domestic violence in our province, including the Slave Lake area.

November is when we host our Annual Open House. This event gives Northern Haven Support Society’s Staff and Board Members the opportunity to share our work with the Slave Lake Community. This year, about 90 people joined us. Our Board Chair Lori Whitby spoke on behalf of the NHSS Board of Directors; RCMP Constable Corbiell provided statistics and information regarding domestic violence in the Slave Lake area from the RCMP’s point of view. My team and I presented information regarding our programs and services specific to domestic violence. These include the Danger Assessment, which is a tool our staff is certified to administer. It measures a women’s risk of being murdered by her intimate partner.

The Northern Haven Support Society’s Emergency Shelter for Women and Children has been serving the Slave Lake area since 2008 and has been in its current location since 2009. Since January 1 of this year, we have admitted 42 women and 45 children to the emergency shelter and our crisis intervention workers have answered 384 calls on our 24-hour crisis line.

In April 2016, we expanded our services to include community services, allowing us to support those who have been impacted by family violence and domestic abuse but cannot or do not want to be admitted to our shelter. Clients admitted to the community services program can be referred from the shelter, community agencies or themselves.

Since the launch of community services, the team has worked with and supported over 80 clients and their families with everything from safety planning and court prep, to obtaining emergency protection orders.

In addition to her work promoting our Purple Ribbon Campaign, this year, our Community Outreach Worker has begun delivering the Red Cross’s Healthy Youth Relationships program in Slave Lake’s high schools, teaching students about healthy relationships, dating abuse and consent.

Northern Haven Support Society got a little political this year—joining the #metoo rally at the Alberta Legislature Building this past March to show support to the movement and survivors of sexual violence. In June of this year, I was honoured to travel with the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, meeting with politicians and policy makers to advocate for women and children fleeing abuse in Alberta.

This brings me to where we are now. November 25 is recognized as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. From November 25 to December 10 each year, organizations around the world participate in the 16 Days of Activism aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls worldwide. This year’s theme is #hearmetoo (Hear Me Too).

The United Nations released a report on November 25th which highlighted that violence is the number one killer of women worldwide. Much of that is domestic violence.

Alberta’s shelters have continued to see an increase in the number of women and children being admitted each year.

Making a statement at the legislature, back in March.

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