(continued)

 Women and children will pay the price

 

by Casey Weichert, Executive Director

Women's House of Bruce & Grey

 

March 6, 2013

First Nations

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"Will the closure of D’binooshnowin (Women's Shelter of Cape Croker Nawash) result in fewer options and supports for women and children dealing with domestic violence?

Will the expertise and capacity that has been built over the years at Nawash continue to be available to the Nawash community and beyond?

While Women’s House Serving Bruce & Grey understands the need for a broad approach to healing and violence and that the enhanced service model the Band proposes will attempt to meet these ends, not having a secure shelter to escape a violent attack will surely leave women and their children more vulnerable to injuries and repeated incidents of violence.

Women’s House Serving Bruce and Grey is very concerned about the closing of D’binooshnowin, the shelter for abused women and their children on the Cape Croker Reserve north of Wiarton.

Violence against women and children has not been eradicated from the Nawash community, or anywhere else, yet a women’s shelter is closing!  Shelters, especially in rural areas, are life-saving for many women experiencing abuse and who have nowhere else to turn. Where will the women escape to now?

D’binooshnowin Crisis Centre has been a valued member of the Bruce & Grey communities since 2004 in many ways:

  • advancing and supporting safety and supports for women and children in dealing with domestic violence
  • offering examples of alternative and effective ways of engaging the community in violence prevention activities
  • providing critical leadership to address racism and discrimination towards native people within mainstream services and in communities in Grey Bruce
  • advocating for First Nations and Aboriginal rights in general

D’binooshnowin, with the previous support of the Nawash Band Council, has made many significant and important contributions to violence prevention and an improved community response over the years.

Women’s House Serving Bruce & Grey provides services in all of Grey and Bruce counties, but our rural shelter is located two hours from Cape Croker. What a shame that a woman is forced to choose between staying in her community or moving two hours away, often on a moment’s notice, to seek the safety of an emergency shelter.

As we understand it, the closing will take place by March 31, 2013. We continue to offer our support and assistance in ensuring adequate resources are available. There are many uncertainties for the women of Cape Croker who experience abuse such as:

  • How can services for abused women and their children (emergency shelter, counselling, safety planning, crisis and longer supports) in Grey Bruce best meet the needs of Nawash women and children once D’binooshnowin is closed?
  • Is there an opportunity to build a working partnership between Nawash and local Violence Against Women services to ensure that Nawash women and children who need safe shelter can get their safety and cultural needs met off reserve?
  • Are there specific joint communication and/or training plans that will be needed to address barriers such as transportation, fear of leaving the community, lack of cultural services off reserve, lack of information about off reserve services?
  • Will Nawash and the new service continue to be part of the current Community Response Protocol, and if so, what changes need to be made to this protocol to reflect the role and responsibility of the new service?
  • What plans are in place to support abused women who are involved with Child and Family services, where that agency requires that the women and children not live with the abuser?
  • Will the new service offer women and children risk assessment, risk management, safety planning, trauma informed counselling, as well legal and court support, all of which are crucial for women and children dealing with domestic violence?

 

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In our Statement of Principles, we believe ...  “ A coordinated community approach to service delivery is essential in order to provide options and information about services and the impacts of abuse and sexual violence so that the victims/survivors can make informed choices”.  As an organization providing services across Bruce and Grey Counties, including providing second stage housing and counseling services in Wiarton, our desire is to be helpful to the women of Nawash while also publically objecting to the closing of a women’s shelter in any community, let alone our own.

It is indeed a sad day to see the closing of a woman’s shelter, hard fought for by women and family members who lost their loved ones to violence at the hands of their intimate partners.

The planned closure of D’binooshnowin Crisis Centre is a big change for everyone. The Chippewas of Nawash can be very proud of the services and supports that they have provided for women and children [in the past] dealing with domestic violence in their community over the past years.  An expanded service that focuses on the root causes of violence and a holistic approach is an important step for the community.

Women’s House Serving Bruce & Grey is willing to support the transition to a new service and contribute to the ongoing safety and support needs of women and children dealing with domestic violence during this transitional time. "

On behalf of staff and the Board of Directors

Casey Weichert, Executive Director


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