Activism campaign against abuse ignites in the Kootenays
By Erin Knutson
The Canadian Mental Health Association Kootenays Branch (CMHA Kootenays) and the Community Coordination for Safety in Relationships (CCSR) are participating in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign this year by promoting actions negating abuse toward women and vulnerable individuals, including the LGBTQ community, on their social media platforms.
“With the hashtag #OurActionsMatter, we will be raising awareness of gender-based violence and starting conversations around the topic,” said Director of Women and Youth Services at CMHA Kootenays, Brooke Belkin.
The campaign started on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Nov. 25) and finishes on World Human Rights Day (Dec. 10).
On Nov. 25, the community was encouraged to wear purple as an act of solidarity.
“The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women held on Dec. 6 will remember the 14 women who were killed at the Universite du Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique massacre in 1989,” said Belkin.
Over the two-week campaign, CMHA Kootenays will be promoting a diversity of tools, resources, and educational tips daily to bring awareness of abuse to the community and attention to the global event while connecting people with local assistance.
Programs offered by CMHA Kootenays include Kootenay Haven Transition House, which is a 24-hour emergency shelter for women and children fleeing or at risk of violence, as well as Haven Gardens, which offers second-stage programmed housing for women up to 18 months.
The Community Coordination for Safety in Relationships is on the frontline of abuse prevention and advocacy.
“The CCSR team meets to build a coordinated response to violence in relationships. Team members represent a variety of social service organizations with a vested interest in educating community members, ending violence, and creating a safer community. We are currently looking for new members,” said Belkin.
For those interested in joining the CCSR team, please contact Natalie Hake at (250)-426-5222 ext. 3063.
Gender-abuse awareness and prevention are more critical than ever, with a documented rise in gender violence as COVID-19 has progressed.
By creating an open discussion on the issue, Belkin hopes that people will find the courage to come forward and seek help.
“It’s a crisis that no one talks about – it’s a quiet epidemic that is still going on in the 21st century, and people are cautious about their public image or afraid to leave for financial reasons. Through awareness and letting people know they’re not alone, we can help them,” she said.
The CMHA Kootenays offers community outreach, Crisis Line-East Kootenay, housing, prevention, education, advocacy, counselling and empowerment, youth outreach, and family support.
Please visit the CMHA Kootenays Facebook page from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 each day to learn about new actions against gender-violence.
Lead image: CMHA Kootenays Cranbrook location. Photos by Erin Knutson