Angel's Lighthouse: Victims of Domestic Violence Shelter for the North East
North East Outreach and Support Services (NEOSS) is a community based non-profit organization that provides services to assist those affected by interpersonal violence in North East Saskatchewan. Some of these services include operating a 24-hour crisis line, providing counseling and public education with the aim to reduce and prevent violence in our communities.
NEOSS receives its operational funding from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice, fundraising initiatives and community donations. In December 2009 NEOSS began the process of applying to the Ministry of Justice for funding to operate a Domestic Violence Shelter in the North East.
The only safe option is transportation to other regions in the province that have domestic violence shelters. Currently, the closest shelter for the North East would be Prince Albert Safe Shelter for Women. In the 3rd ¼ of their 2010 operating year they had to turn away 304 women and children. In August of 2010 they had to turn away 74 individuals and were only able to help 11 people due to their facility operating at capacity. In this instance the only other option is to transport women and children to shelters much farther away from their communities and support systems. Many of the women NEOSS has dealt with have chosen to stay in their current situation rather than be relocated away from family and friends.
After much research and assistance from the community NEOSS submitted its first proposal in September 2010 which included 39 letters of support from a variety of organizations within the North East. The proposed Domestic Violence Shelter was given the name “Angel’s Lighthouse”. It would not only provide a safe place for women and children escaping violent situations, but educational and support programing would encourage safe, stable and nurturing relationships between children and parents; promote gender equality and prevent violence against women; and help to change cultural and social norms that support violence. The proposed shelter would be a 16 bed (7 rooms) unit which would be wheelchair accessible and link to community services such as Mental Health, Social Services, Saskatchewan Housing, Salvation Army and Legal Aide. The shelter’s main goal is to provide safe and secure accommodations for women and children leaving situations of domestic violence by assisting with temporary shelter, counseling and case planning.
The proposal was reviewed by the Ministry of Justice in March 2011 and was denied. NEOSS has resubmitted the proposal twice and been denied each time. We must now reapply for the March 2013 government funding and we need your help. We are confident that people in the North East are willing to sustain and support this shelter in the long run as is evident from the fundraising and donation support NEOSS has received since the proposals for the shelter have been submitted. We want to show just how strong our community support is, so that the Ministry of Justice will not be able to deny us any further. We are at a critical time with our proposal, as a delay may jeopardize federal government CMHC funding. Therefore we need to act now. Please sign the i-petition if you believe that the North East needs a Domestic Violence Shelter.
Excerpts from The Need for a Women’s Safe Shelter in North East Saskatchewan, by R. Trann as prepared for North East Outreach and Support Services Inc.
§ In 2008, there were 569 shelters across Canada providing residential services to women and children escaping abusive situations, unfortunately only 4% of these shelters exist in rural communities. Also in 2008, shelters reported a growing need for additional or improved services to meet the needs of their clients while also reporting the most common reason of turning women and children away was due to a lack of space with the shelter (Statistics Canada, 2009, p. 5).
§ Women and children often find it difficult to leave violent situations as they may not have the financial means to find their own housing, no housing is available, or they may feel frustrated, defeated and helpless after realizing space in women’s shelters may be full, or worse yet, no shelter exists within their area. Women experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, violence are left with little options for safety.
§ In the “Report of the Task Force on Housing Affordability” presented by the Provincial Government of Saskatchewan, increasing the number of emergency shelters and transitional spaces in the province was listed with the recommendations (Task Force on Housing Affordability, 2008, p. 5).
§ In rural and remote communities, offering culturally appropriate services within each agency becomes even more important because substitute agencies may not be available, or may not exist within the geographical area.
§ For the creation of a women’s shelter that services both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, it would be vital to have all relevant stakeholders from each population, government, and service group to be fully involved at every stage of the planning process. In an advisory capacity, such a group would provide leadership and voice for the communities being served and the issues being addressed.
§ Direct associations have been found between family violence and homelessness, meaning that both family violence services and shelters services need to acknowledge the interplay of these issues. Many Canadian studies have found that “abuse and assault seem to be salient features of homeless mothers’ childhood and adult experiences…and women suffer its devastating medical and emotional consequences for the rest of their lives” (Novac, 2006, p. 7).
Please sign our petition so that we may forward the electronic signatures to the Honourable Gordon Wyant, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, to show the necessity for and support of a shelter for female victims of violence and their children in north east Saskatchewan.
North East Outreach & Support Services website
Need Help In North East Saskatchewan?
1-800-611-6349 (crisis line)