Women’s Support Groups at Battered Women’s Support Services

Support Groups at BWSS | 2014

BWSS Support Groups meet the needs of women who are or have been abused in their intimate relationships, women survivors of childhood sexual abuse, incest, and adult sexual assault. We design our support services to accommodate the social situations of marginalized women in regards to culture/ethnicity for women of colour or experiences of colonization for Aboriginal women. We also address situations of immigration, refugee experiences, sexual orientation, age, poverty and disabilities.

To sign up for a support group, please call 604-687-1867 (we accept collect calls) during our office hours or email supportgroups@bwss.org

If you need support outside of BWSS office hours, call Victim Link Helpline at 1-800-563-0808.

Drop-In Groups


Latin American Women’s Drop-in Support Group

Every Monday at 10-12 pm

BWSS Vancouver office


BWSS Drop-in Group

Every Tuesday at 12 -2 pm

BWSS Vancouver office


DEWC Drop-in Group

Every Friday at 5-8 pm

Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre

302 Columbia Street, Vancouver

Specialized Groups


Healing From Trauma through Empowerment II

Wednesday at 2:30-4:30pm

From September 9th to November 25th, 2014

BWSS Vancouver office


Healing From Trauma through Empowerment II

Wednesday at 5:30-7:30pm

From September 10th to November 28th, 2014

BWSS Vancouver office


16 steps for Discovery and Empowerment Support Group

Thursday at 1-3 pm

From September 4th to December 8th, 2014

BWSS Vancouver office

Wildflower Women of Turtle Island Drum Group

Every Thursday at 6 – 8 pm, 2014

BWSS Vancouver office

This is the list of support groups offer at BWSS. Drop-in Groups are offered through the whole year and specialized groups are offered on seasonal basis or based on requests from the women who access our services.

If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?


YOUth Ending Violence ~ Education Presentation Opportunity

For 20 years Battered Women’s Support Services has delivered dating violence prevention education.
YOUth Engagement in Dating Violence Prevention.
Co-facilitated by a trained young woman and a young man.

Anticipated outcomes:

• A better understanding of the roots of dating violence
• Types of abuse
• Healthy Relationships
• How to help a friend who is being abused
• Effective bystander intervention
• Safety Planning
• Media Literacy Skills
• Online/Social Media Safety

The length of the workshop is approximately 50 minutes. Two and four hour workshops are available upon request.
Book as soon as possible as our calendar fills up very quickly.
By providing relevant education to youth about violence in dating relationships we are helping to end violence.

FOR INFORMATION call Rona at 778.558.7179 or email yev@bwss.org


To download poster, please visit here.

For more information about YOUth Ending Violence Program, please visit the program page:

 If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?


BWSS to Appear as Witness at Coroner’s Inquest into Death of Lucia Vega Jimenez

For immediate release
October 6, 2014

BWSS to Appear as Witness at Coroner’s Inquest into Death of Lucia Vega Jimenez

Vancouver, BC – For several years, Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) has been raising the alarm about the relationship between gender violence and precarious immigration for women, in general, and specifically from Mexico. The devastating situation for Lucia Vega Jimenez, a Mexican woman, who strangled herself, December 2013, while in custody at Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) at Vancouver International Airport awaiting deportation to Mexico is currently being examined by a Coroner’s Inquest and BWSS applied, was denied participant status into the inquest, however after issues of gender violence were illuminated, BWSS applied to the Coroner again and now will appear as a witness Monday, October 6, 2014.

The Inquest has illuminated the ways in which gender violence and precarious immigration status is not understood very well or is being ignored by Canadian officials. Through our work we have learned that it is virtually impossible for a Mexican woman to escape from violence and to make it into Canada, a country known to offer protection to people who are being persecuted, including those who experience gendered persecution. We have heard of women who have been deported to Mexico and have been murdered including in 2009, “Grise” was raped and murdered upon her deportation in Mexico and Veronica Castro who was in immigration detention center in 2012 and deported to Mexico and was murdered five weeks after returning to Mexico. Rosa Elena Arteaga BWSS Manager Direct Service and Clinical Practice will appear as a witness for the Coroner and through her appearance seeks to highlight systemic failures while making important recommendations. Rosa Elena Arteaga was born in Mexico, maintains communication with women’s groups all over Mexico and has participated in many forums to address the issue of missing and murdered women in north Mexico, as well as, the intersection between violence against women and precarious immigration.

“By coming twice to Canada, under the conditions that she did, we can easily conclude that she was seeking life and that life included freedom of violence.” Said Rosa Elena Arteaga, BWSS Manager Direct Services and Clinical Practice.

During the inquest, the testimony of three witnesses spoke to Ms Jimenez’s fear about returning to Mexico due to a domestic situation, which included not only an ex-boyfriend but a much more serious problem that involved fear of being tortured and murdered.  And it seems that CBSA treated her removal from Canada as a priority, over following appropriate procedures. It was clear that Ms Jimenez was intending to file a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment, or PRRA, which had to be submitted within 15 days. This is a final opportunity for someone who has no status in Canada to apply to remain because they could face persecution, danger of torture, risk to life, or risk of cruel or unusual treatment or punishment in their country of origin including gender violence.

The federal government has indicated that the possibility of filing a PRRA exists because “Canada is committed to ensuring that people being removed from Canada are not sent to a country where they would be in danger or at risk of persecution.” The CBSA knew that Ms Jimenez intended to file a PRRA because she had told them. But the CBSA officer testified that this was not her priority. In fact, she testified that assisting with a PRRA wasn’t in CBSA’s interest. BWSS questions whether CBSA had discounted Ms Jimenez’s experience of gender violence and the risk of death it appeared she faced returning to Mexico.

“Recognizing that gender violence is a reality for woman such as Lucia.” Said Vicky Law, BWSS Legal Advocate. “We recommend that CBSA follow appropriate procedures so that women are able to access all the possible legal options available in the time frame that is appropriate to fully complete the necessary steps.”


For more information:
Rosa Elena Arteaga, BWSS Manager Direct Services and Clinical Practice
Phone: 778-929-5273 Email: directservices@bwss.org
Vicky Law, BWSS Legal Advocate
Phone: 778-929-5273 Email: legaladvocacy@bwss.org

Community Forum on Responding to Changes to Immigration Policy

On November 15, 2013, BWSS organized a community forum to discuss responses to changes in immigration policy and ways to improve service delivery in collaboration with the Migrant Mothers Project and YWCA Metro Vancouver. We came together with 55 people including educators, front-line workers, management and volunteers who work in the areas of immigration and refugee settlement, immigration law, child protection/children’s aid, health care services, adult education, anti-violence against women services and community development.

Following the forum Rosa Elena Arteaga wrote Community Forum on Responding to Changes to Immigration Policy: Supporting Non-Status, Refugee and Immigrant Women Survivors of Gender Violence blog to share our knowledge and analysis on the discussed topics. Today, we are pleased to share a summary of the Forum to respond your requests for hearing more about the discussion and to share our knowledge to improve service delivery in our community.

Please read the Forum Summary, prepared by the Migrant Mother Project. You may download the document here.

Discussion Themes

Many topics emerged at the Vancouver Forum which commenced with acknowledgement that we are on Unceded Indigenous land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Throughout the forum, the connections between colonialism, global capitalism, and migration were integrated with analysis of the marginalization of women living with precarious immigration status in Canada. Here we expand upon some of the core themes that were raised at the Vancouver forum.

1. Linking Indigenous Sovereignty in Coast Salish Territories with Forced Migration

The Forum commenced with an opening ceremony led by Brandy Kane (Thunder Eagle Woman) who gave recognition to the traditional lands where the forum took place and led us in singing the Wonder Warrior song. Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director at BWSS added to the introduction and noted that the significance of the Women Warrior Song and the central role that Indigenous women are playing as leaders in anti-Violence Against Women work in Vancouver. It was evident that the women’s movement in Vancouver is committed to Indigenous sovereignty and recognizes the suffering of Mother Earth as inseparable to anti-violence work. This was further reinforced through linking the aboriginal plight of disputed lands in Canada, but also worldwide, to circumstances that lead to forced migration and oppression faced by immigrant women who are denied citizenship in Canada.

brandy kane2. Globalization and the Live-in-Caregiver Program

Linkages between global capitalism, the displacement of people worldwide, and gendered migration to Canada were especially pronounced in the Vancouver forum. It was noted that globalization and corporate culture have a transnational influence on government policies that result in environmental degradation, human displacement and cultural genocide. Live-in-caregivers were discussed as a group of women that represent a major source of income for the Philippines, but who must endure economic insecurity, forced cohabitation with their employers and family separation for several years. Through a series of case studies, forum presenters illustrated the layers of women face as live-in-caregivers and through their efforts to establish permanency in Canada and reunify with their families. The Vancouver forum attendees were congiscent of the tragedies unfolding in the aftermath of typhoon Hainan, which in part contributed to heightened awareness of the structural violence associated with migration and global inequalities.

3. Social Assistance for Mothers without Legal Status

In Vancouver, the Mothers without Legal Status Project, YWCA Metro Vancouver, began their research investigating the growing concerns for mothers without legal Canadian status and who have Canadian born children. Over five years of advocacy efforts, critical communication tactics and working with various ministries at the provincial level gave this group sufficient leverage to change certain policies in the Vancouver region including: 1) having children attend school without international student fees 2) allowing a mother to access British Colombia housing while waiting for permanent residency, and 3) providing social assistance to single parents without status who are fleeing abuse The importance of these changes were echoed by other forum attendees that noted the positive impact that these changes have had on women attempting to access services, especially within the shelter system. Moreover, the YWCA wishes to continue their advocacy efforts with other YWCA’s nationwide in order to make this a Federal campaign.

4. Developing Allies for Community Organizing and Policy Advocacy

The Vancouver Forum provided a space for attendees to discuss strategies around supporting women with precarious immigration status in Vancouver, but also to consider ways to develop networks with allies across the province and Canada-wide. The YWCA Metro Vancouver has been reaching out to YWCAs across Canada to explore the potential to expand their campaign for Mothers without Status to a federal level. There was a large desire to rally public awareness on this concern and doing so through sharing of women’s narratives, especially through social media and public awareness campaigns. In particular, the attendees noted the need to hold more events to raise consciousness on this topic in Vancouver.

community forum

The Vancouver forum created a space to discuss precarious immigration status, within a larger context of colonialism, globalization and subsequently forced migration. It is these factors that continue to impact and create links between Mother Earth, Indigenous sovereignty, as well as women with precarious immigration status seeking safety in Canada. Women’s experiences and resilience were honoured and shared amongst the group, which gave us a glimpse into the lives of the women that are caught in the middle of such global forces.

Service providers in the Vancouver area have been generating strong networks and are committed and able to discuss the injustices that are faced by their clients with precarious immigration status. Forum attendees highlighted the potential for networks amongst service providers to influence policy change at the local and provincial level.. However, additional efforts to mobilize networks that are able to engage media and policy makers to influence ministries at the provincial level and subsequently the federal level are critically needed. There was a strong sentiment of continuing to connect with one another in order to push for fair and equal policies for women, as well as their families, with precarious immigration status.

Within the anti-violence movement in Vancouver, there is an understanding that violence is significantly felt by women with precarious immigration status and that there is a need to prevent this violence from occurring by challenging and shifting unjust practices. Although more work remains to be done, the forum in Vancouver was an inspiring example of how to service providers, immigrant women and Indigenous leaders can work together to support women whose full humanity remains unrecognized in Canada.

Please read the article written by Rosa Elena Arteaga here: Community Forum on Responding to Changes to Immigration Policy: Supporting Non-Status, Refugee and Immigrant Women Survivors of Gender Violence

On November 15th 2013, Battered Women’s Support Services hosted a Community Forum on Responding to Changes to Immigration Policy, in partnership with The Migrant Mothers Project and YWCA Metro Vancouver. Over 50 front-line workers, counsellors, settlement workers, and community activists came together to learn and share knowledge. We reinforced our commitment to continue our collaboration and to increase our networks so we can affect change and attend to the inequalities that migrant women face within Canada’s economic, social, legal and political systems. Inequalities that, more than often, deny basic rights to migrant women and their families. Read full article…

Immigration Policy Community ForumDownload the poster here.

Battered Women’s Support Services responded to over 10,000 crisis calls from women and girls to get help and end violence in 2012. We could not provide this essential support without your contribution.



This blog was updated on December 23, 2013.

CEDAW Report Card 2013

CEDAW enshrines important protections for women in international human rights law. The UN CEDAW Committee is an international body of independent experts who are charged with monitoring state parties’ compliance and implementation of the Convention. Every four years, each country that has signed on to the Convention must report to the CEDAW Committee about how well it is measuring up to the CEDAW standards of women’s equality. Non-governmental organizations may also submit what are called “shadow reports”, expressing their views on that country’s CEDAW compliance.

Canada ratified CEDAW on December 10, 1981. In October and November of 2008, the CEDAW Committee considered the sixth and seventh reports from Canada, along with reports from local NGOs, and issued its observations on Canada’s compliance and implementation of the Convention. The BC CEDAW Group, a coalition of women’s organizations in BC including West Coast LEAF, produced a shadow report about the situation for women in BC.

The Committee was very concerned about a number of issues concerning women’s rights in Canada, and singled out some issues of significance in BC especially. The Committee took the unusual step of requiring Canada to report back to the Committee in a year on its progress on two issues of particular concern:

(1) establishing and monitoring minimum standards for the provision of funding to social assistance programs, and carrying out an impact assessment of social programs related to women’s rights; and

(2) examining the failure to investigate the cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and to address those failures.

The Government of Canada submitted its response to these questions in February 2010, and the BC CEDAW Group submitted a shadow report entitled “Nothing to Report.” The UN Committee has not yet responded to these reports. Canada is due to make its next submission to the CEDAW Committee in December, 2014.

This Report Card measures how well BC is measuring up to some of the CEDAW obligations that fall within provincial jurisdiction, including these two areas of urgent concern to the Committee. For more information on our methodology and grading scheme used, please turn to the back cover of the Report Card.

So… How is BC measuring up to international legal standards of women’s equality?

West Coast LEAF's CEDAW report card

The goal of West Coast LEAF’s CEDAW Report Card project is to raise public awareness about the shortcomings and successes of BC in meeting its international obligations on women’s rights, and to advocate for adequate responses to the CEDAW Committee’s concerns.
West Coast LEAF distributed a draft of the report card to a number of community organizations and representatives. We sought their written input and feedback, and engaged in telephone and in-person conversations as well. The feedback we received was extremely valuable in formulating the final version of this report card.