If you happen to pop by Ranchland Mall in Pincher Creek this Wednesday you’ll see a booth manned by purple-clad staff from the Pincher Creek Women’s Emergency Shelter.
On top of sporting purple fashion, the workers are handing out information and resources raising awareness for Family Violence Prevention Month, as well as recognizing Nov. 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Throughout November, family shelters and resource groups across the province have been participating in a public and social media campaign through #gopurpleAlberta to help individuals and families feel safe in their homes and in their communities.
The campaign is especially important as Alberta has the third-highest rate of self-reported spousal violence in Canada.
Lori Van Ee, executive director for the shelter, says community members are asked to don purple throughout the day to help highlight efforts to prevent family violence.
The shelter’s plans extend beyond the day of Nov. 25 and into the night as well.
“We are encouraging community members to take part in our first-ever Shine Your Light Event,” says Lori. “This event will ask community members to shine their outside light, put a glow stick in their window, or turn on their holiday lights for the remainder of the night to help raise awareness.”
The goal of Family Violence Prevention Month is twofold: help provide resources that prevent family circumstances from deteriorating, and ensure people in an unsafe domestic situation find the information and the help they need.
Helping families through stress, says Kayla Strandquist, is the main focus for the Crowsnest Pass Women’s Resource and Crisis Centre.
The centre provides counselling and support services for anyone who may be feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Though acknowledging that reaching out for help can be tough, Kayla emphasises the centre is a safe place to talk.
“There’s always someone that will be willing to listen. Lots of times people don’t think that they can reach out for help, but there are people out there willing to help,” she says. “Sometimes people feel isolated or scared to ask for help, but just know that you’re not being judged.”
Though the centre has shifted the majority of its counselling services to telephone or virtual sessions, people without access to technology are still welcome to come for conversations in person as long as they wear a mask.
The centre is also running a Coats for Kids program and can provide free household items for families in need. A Christmas toy hamper will also be starting in December.
Should anyone find themself in a situation where their safety is in danger, the centre can also provide same-day transportation from Crowsnest Pass to the shelter in Pincher Creek.
The shelter, explains Lori, is more than a bed for women fleeing abuse.
“Our residential program is a 21-day stay and assists women to assess their danger levels, create a safety plan, provide the necessities, and work with women to attain short-term goals such as finding housing independent from their abuser,” she says.
“Women’s shelters remain the safest place for women fleeing violence. Our staff are trained to help women assess their danger levels and create a safety plan,” Lori continues. “We encourage anyone facing immediate danger to call 911. You are not alone.”
The shelter also runs a support program to help moms meet the needs of their children, as well as facilitating age-appropriate activities for children staying in the shelter.
Helping get women out of immediate danger is only one aspect of the shelter’s mandate. An outreach program also helps clients identify their needs, helping put women on a path to living independently and productively from abuse.
The program lasts up to six months but can be extended as needed. Additionally, Lori says, women do not have to be living in the shelter to access the outreach program.
“We can take referrals from community agencies and or community members themselves who see a need to access the supports that our outreach program can offer,” she says.
A host of resources are available for anyone experiencing family violence.
Any individual can contact the Pincher Creek crisis line at 403-627-4868 or 403-627-2114. In Crowsnest Pass, anyone in need of assistance can contact the resource centre at 403-563-9077.
Provincially, a toll free crisis line is available at 1-888-354-4868. The Family Violence Info Line is also available in more than 170 languages at 310-1818. In case of immediate danger, people are encouraged to call 911.
Online provincial resources can be found at www.alberta.ca/family-violence-find-supports.aspx.
Provincial shelters can also be looked up at www.alberta.ca/find-shelters.aspx.
Further information on the Pincher Creek Women’s Emergency Shelter can be found online at www.pcshelter.ca. Likewise, additional information on the Crowsnest Pass Women’s Resource and Crisis Centre is available at www.cnpwomensresourcecentre.ca.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze