Program works to improve women’s safety

Already becoming clear is the need for education to help us all recognize what is unreasonable and abusive behaviour

CCWS Advisory Committee

The provincial average says that 10 per cent of women are currently experiencing violence or abuse in their homes. The percentage expected to experience violence and abuse in their lifetime is 25 per cent. Clearwater's population of approximately 2,300 might be expected to have yielded 115 women or girls experiencing violence or abuse in their homes during the period of Jan. 1, 2011 and Sept. 1, 2012. However, only 16 cases of domestic violence were reported to Clearwater RCMP. Either Clearwater is an unusually safe and respectful place for women or the problem is massively under reported. Judging by personal testimony and local research currently being funded by Status of Women Canada, unfortunately, the last option is right: the problem is under reported.

In response to recent national high profile incidents of violence against women and girls, particularly in small rural communities, Status of Women Canada is funding Community Connections for Women's Safety (CCWS) in the communities of the North Thompson Valley. Here in Clearwater, there is a stakeholder's committee creating a community plan for reducing violence and abuse against women and girls. A research project into women's experiences of violence and abuse in the local area has been undertaken. It will be soon be available as a public document. A panel of women who have experienced abuse has been meeting regularly and has presented recommendations to the stakeholder's committee.

Already becoming clear is the need for education to help us all recognize what is unreasonable and abusive behaviour. Women and girls benefit from knowing when to say no and seek help. Men and boys benefit from recognizing their own oppressive behaviours toward women and girls and growing to see that this is a problem which diminishes us all.

The community plan is shaping up to include a more unified, accessible, and transparent way of responding to women in distress. There will be educational initiatives and perhaps other initiatives not yet fully clear - this plan is a work in progress anticipated in early 2013. That will just be the beginning of the work ahead. CCWS and the stakeholders committee seek to foster a more respectful and safer environment for everyone in the Valley.

CCWS is administered by YCS. Program coordinator is Wendy Vogels who may be contacted at 250 674 3530 or e-mail wendy.v@yellowheadcs.ca