Naming it is just the beginning of the journey… with Dr. June Francis

“Because, the power of #MeToo isn’t just naming it. Naming it is just the beginning of the journey” -Tarana Burke

Leading up to BWSS 40 Years Later Commemoration with Tarana Burke at the Orpheum Theatre on November 25th, 2019, BWSS asked local activists to share how “Naming it is just the beginning of the journey”…

“It is poignant that Tarana Burke, a Black woman who grew up in economically constraining circumstances, saw what others failed to see, that sexual violence and rooted racism are deep-seated power imbalances. Eliminating gender-based violence is dependent on achieving systemic change that upends this power imbalance. The same holds true for racial dynamics that are rooted in white supremacy and patriarchal systems.

We wish to commend BWSS for their 40 year commitment to freeing women and girls from violence by working for systemic change. BWSS works at the intersect that really matter to produce long term change. BWSS supports the “self-powering” of girls and women by working to achieve systemic change in institutional reform, education, economic inclusion and through the many ways they provide a “hug” of support for those most affected by violence. The local Black community are especially aware of the compounding effects of social, racial, economic and gender exclusion for creating the power conditions for gender-based violence.

We at Hogan’s Alley Society have as our vision “A world where people of African Descent are free to reach their full potential”. We know first-hand the difference that BWSS has made, especially, in the life of Black women and women of colour.

We hope this organization that has been a beacon of light will continue to receive all the support it needs to continue this invaluable work of helping women and girls reach their full potential”.

June N. P. Francis LLB; PhD
Co-Chair Hogan’s Alley Society
Co-Director -The Co-Laboratorio Project
Director Institute for Diaspora Research and Engagement
Associate Professor, Beedie School of Business



Ticket Sponsorship

We are seeking ticket sponsorship for individuals who otherwise would be unable to attend, if you would like to sponsor tickets please email

We are so grateful for our generous sponsors!

  • Davida LeComte 
  • Luiza Brenner
  • LOVE Fundraising 
  • Cystech Solutions Inc. 
  • SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement 
  • Elevate Inclusion Strategies
  • Vancouver Community College Faculty Association
  • Massy Books 










Recommendations, Feedback and Analysis on Paid Leave for Survivors

Over the past month, Chelsey Blair has been conducting a practicum placement with BWSS as a component of her undergraduate education in Social Work at the University of Northern British Columbia. During this time, her efforts have been focused on collecting information, organizing it and producing a feedback and analysis document for the provincial government on the implementation of a job protected, paid leave provision for domestic and sexual violence survivors.

Today, BWSS sent our recommendations to the provincial government based on the information and feedback we have recieved. Read the full report here. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in our surveys, your feedback was essential. We have a winner of the $50 gift certificate to My Sister’s Closet and will email the winner with details!


Tickets On Sale Now!

40 Years Later…

In 1979, five women started Battered Women’s Support Services with the goal of ending violence against women.  Forty years later and the journey continues.  Join us at The Orpheum Theatre on November 25, 2019, the International Day for the Elimination of Gender Violence for a carefully assembled program featuring:


Tarana Burke: Founder of the ‘me too.’ Movement and advocate for survivors of sexual violence

Tarana Burke shares the story behind the genesis of the viral 2017 TIME Person Of The Year-winning ‘me too.’ Movement, and gives strength and healing to those who have experienced sexual trauma or harassment.

The simple yet courageous ‘me too.’ hashtag campaign has emerged as a rallying cry for people everywhere who have survived sexual assault and sexual harassment – and Tarana’s powerful, poignant story as creator of what is now an international movement that supports survivors will move, uplift, and inspire you.

#MeToo is not just an overnight hashtag sensation; Tarana has dedicated more than 25 years of her life to social justice and to laying the groundwork for a movement that was initially created to help young women of color who survived sexual abuse and assault. The movement now inspires solidarity, amplifies the voices of thousands of victims of sexual abuse, and puts the focus back on survivors. In her upcoming book, Where the Light Enters, Tarana discusses the importance of the ‘me too.’ Movement as well as her personal journey from “victim to survivor to thriver.”  Tarana’s continued work with the ‘me too.’ movement has earned her the honor of being named The Root 100‘s most influential person of 2018.

A sexual assault survivor herself, Tarana is now working under the banner of the ‘me too’ Movement to assist other survivors and those who work to end sexual violence. She is now Executive Director of the ‘me too.’ organization. On stage, she provides words of empowerment that lift up marginalized voices, enables survivors across all races, genders, or classes to know that they are not alone, and creates a place for comfort and healing to those who have experienced trauma.


Special performances by

DJ Kookum

Cheyanna Kootenhayoo also known as DJ Kookum is a Dene/Cree Filmmaker and DJ. She is a member of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, originally from Cold Lake First Nations and is based out of Vancouver, BC. This hip hop, rap, trap, r&b, edm DJ is blowing up. This past year Kookum has opened for Princess Nokia.


Wildflower, Women of Turtle Island Drum Group

Wildflower, is a hand drum group that meets weekly. Together, healing from trauma, finding our voices and standing strong in our power through drumming and singing.  Many nations believe song and dance are sacred, and the drum beat itself is often referred to as the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

The drum group has grown immensely since its start and is often asked by local community and beyond to drum and sing at events, bringing empowerment and healing to the community.



M’Girl’s percussive based hand drum songs blends harmonies into a contemporary gospel style, reflecting both their cultural practice and their personal story of home. Led by Renae Morriseau, their music reflects their personal journeys and cultural worldviews held respectfully by each M’Girl living within the urban environment of the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada.


Leah McFly

A trailblazer, in her own right, Montreal based dancer, Leah‘McFly’ McKesey aka Waackeisha continues to push the envelope of what it means to be a dancer. Being the other half of “2 Marvelous” dance company, with her brother Linx. Their undeniable dance skills have landed them on stages around the world, opening for some of music’s greats, like A Tribe called Red, N.E.R.D, Big Daddy Kane, The Beach Boys, and Kaytranada, to name a few. She’s versatile; dancing many urban styles, and is internationally known for battling, teaching, judging and choreographing events, even Fashion houses abroad and is also a creative director and event coordinator of different events like; Chocolate Jungle 90s jam, Rawomyn exhibit, pop up shops and more.


Tonye Aganaba

Tonye Aganaba is a multidisciplinary artist, musician and arts facilitator residing on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Their new album ‘Something Comfortable’ is an intentional and devotional endeavour inspired by their battle with Multiple Sclerosis. The album serves as the score to ‘AfroScience’ an immersive performance and workshop series fusing live music, dance, visual art/digital media and storytelling to stimulate conversation and action around identity, addiction, healing and expression. Tonye’s shows, workshops and classes are connected and intimate experiences and evoke a kind of vulnerability that we all hunger for. 


Tickets:  A range of ticket options are available.
Ticket with a preshow reception with Tarana Burke at 6 PM $100
General admission tickets available at $30, $40 & $50
Get involved:  We are seeking ticket sponsorship for identified communities, if you would like to sponsor tickets please email


Our counselling team is growing -because of your generosity!

Battered Women’s Support Services counselling team is growing as a result of YOUR generosity! Because of our donors, our counselling program is expanding. We’re currently recruiting four new counsellors.

 BWSS is a feminist ending violence organization with an entrepreneurial spirit known for its commitment to creating and implementing programs and services that empower women from all walks of life.  BWSS is known for its inclusionary hiring practices. We offer the opportunity to work within an accomplished team making a difference every day on the frontline and beyond. 

Children’s Counsellor

8 hours per week  
 Saturday 9:00 am to 5 pm
Additional hours may be required
This is a part-time position

As part of the BWSS Counselling Program, the Children’s Counsellor is responsible for providing counselling services to girls and boys between ages of three and thirteen years old, who have witnessed violence against their mothers or have experienced violence/ abuse themselves. Provide parenting information and support for mothers regarding the impacts on their children of witnessing and experiencing violence/abuse.

Apply today!

Indigenous Women’s Counsellor

24 hours per week @ $30.68 per hour
Thursday 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Friday and Saturday 9:00 am to 5 pm
Additional evenings and/or weekends may be required
This is a one-year temporary part-time position

We seek an accomplished professional to join our counselling team and undertake a broad mandate that includes social change, to address gender inequalities and ultimately to end violence against Indigenous girls and women, through providing decolonizing and feminist intersectional based counselling for Indigenous women survivors of gender-based violence. Specifically, you will work within a multidisciplinary team to ensure an effective response for Indigenous women who are dealing with the impacts of violence and abuse in collaboration with our matrix of support services and external resources.

Apply today!

Women’s Counsellors

Right now, we seek two accomplished professionals to join our counselling team and undertake a broad mandate that includes social change, to address gender inequalities and ultimately to end violence against girls and women, through providing feminist decolonizing, intersectional based counselling for women survivors of gender-based violence. Specifically, you will work within a multidisciplinary team to ensure an effective response for women who are dealing with the impacts of violence and abuse in collaboration with our matrix of support services and external resources.

Part Time
16 hours per week at $30.68 per hour
Thursday from 4:30 pm-8:30 pm, Friday 9 am-5 pm and Saturday 9 am-5 pm.
Additional evenings and/or weekends may be required
Full Time
32 hours per week at $30.68 per hour
Monday – Thursday 9 am-5 pm.
Additional evenings and/or weekends may be required
If you would like to contribute to life-saving direct services, make a donation today.

Support Survivors: Paid Leave To Survivors Of Domestic And Sexual Violence Survey

One control tactic used by abusive partners is disrupting their partners’ professional life: harassing them on the job or interfering with child-care plans so they can’t get to work. Estimates of survivors of intimate partner violence being bothered in some way by their abuser at work (eg. harassing phone calls) range from 36% to 75% and most survivors of intimate partner violence report that violence negatively affects their work performance. It also affects their ability to get to work, through physical restraint for example or physical and emotional violence that requires them to take time off and ultimately has led to job loss for 27% of survivors in Canada.

For many survivors in crisis, having a job can be a lifeline. This is why a survivor’s job is incredibly important because it is essential to their ability to create a new life. But, intimate partner violence is a hard thing to bring up with an employer, particularly if the victim feels they could lose their job at any time. Many employers believe that violence in intimate relationships is an individual issue and is none of their business. 90% of domestic violence incidents will be disclosed to a co-worker (Ontario Safety Association 2009.) As a result many survivors feel like the violence they’re experiencing is somehow their own fault. Paid leave policies like the ones passed in Manitoba and Ontario send a message to survivors that “we care about you, believe you and it’s not your fault”.

Here in BC, there have been changes brewing with the Employment Standards Act with the provision of leave for workers who need to take time away from their jobs after facing domestic or sexual violence. In previous standards, people had no ability to take time from their jobs to find the solutions needed to make life safer for themselves and their families unless their employer agreed to the leave.

In Canada, in addition to providing unpaid job-protected leave, most provinces and the federal government require employers to provide paid leave for victims of domestic or sexual violence ranging from 2-5 days. BC has a provision of unpaid leave and is negotiating to add a paid component.

We at BWSS are pleased to be collecting feedback pertaining to the province of British Columbia’s decision-making regarding changes to the Employment Standards Act to provide paid leave to domestic and sexual violence survivors. We are asking that you consider participating in this survey to help us advise the province on our positions as to what will best support the people our organization is serving, and DV and SV survivors everywhere.

Click below to participate and you will be entered into a chance to win $50 gift certificate to My Sister’s Closet, social enterprise of BWSS!

Deadline to participate is 5 pm on September 27, 2019. 

Advocacy and Accountability: The Effort for Justice  

Sagmoen Back in Court on Monday

Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) will be on-site in Vernon, BC Monday, September 9th, 2019 at 8:30 am for the latest trial of serial attacker of women, Curtis Sagmoen. In his latest trial, Sagmoen stands accused of eight offenses including uttering threats, pointing a firearm, and use of a firearm committing an indictable offense.  Read the press release here. 

Earlier this year, we joined advocates Jody Leon and Ida Manuel at the Provincial Court in Port Coquitlam at Sagmoens trial, rallying for Justice.  

Sagmoen has a long history of hiring sex workers, usually Indigenous women, to work at his properties both in the Vancouver area and near Vernon then viciously assaulting them, resulting in an extensive criminal history including brutal attacks with a hammer, guns, and using a spike belt to slash tires and prevent a woman from fleeing from his property. BWSS created a timeline of Sagmoen’s activity since 2002, illustrating his ongoing history of violence against women.

She Was A “Known Surrey Prostitute with an Extensive Criminal Record”

Brooklyn Fowler, Thrive Program Service Co-ordinator at BWSS  will be in Vernon Monday morning. They have written about Sagmeon and the biases within Canadian systems that make gender-based violence with impunity possible. 

“On my second shift working relief at a sex worker resource centre in the Vancouver area, I was stopped by a program participant named Arlene.  Arlene is an older Indigenous woman with a kind, sincere smile; she knows everyone and she always sits in the same chair.  She stopped me to introduce herself and we chatted for a while about the centre, her grown-up children, and that night’s dinner menu.  After around ten minutes of casual chit chat about our families, her face suddenly fell and she said to me “I haven’t seen my sister in a long, long time.  She was one of the ones they found on the serial killer’s farm.” 

That was as jarring for me as if all the windows around us had suddenly smashed.  Like most of us, I am very familiar with that case, however, my experience with it was purely academic.  I had read and talked about it at length, but suddenly my safe and comfortable distance from the reality of it was shattered as I hugged a woman now heaving with sobs.  

In 2018 Battered Women’s Support Services became involved with the Curtis Sagmoen case, a case which bears many similarities to the previous serial killer case.  Sagmoen has a many year history of hiring sex workers, usually Indigenous women, to work at his properties both in the Vancouver area and near Vernon and viciously assaulting them, resulting in an extensive criminal history including brutal attacks with a hammer, guns, and using a spike belt to slash tires and prevent a woman from fleeing from his property.  Then, in late 2017, RCMP investigators found the remains of a missing 18-year-old girl named Traci Genereaux on his family’s property outside of Vernon. 

Yet, despite a lengthy criminal history of violence against women, the RCMP have continually abetted his violence by failing to properly investigate, stigmatizing the victims and survivors, and displaying bias against them based on their occupations, race, and gender.  In 2013 the Maple Ridge RCMP described the woman Sagmoen viciously beat a woman with a hammer, as “a known Surrey prostitute with an extensive criminal record.”

The word prostitute is an ugly word.  It is a power-laden word hurled at women working in sex economies that robs them of their own power over their bodies and labour.  While some sex workers have reclaimed the word on their own terms, it is generally used only to degrade, objectify and dehumanize sex working women.  In 1978 Carol Leigh coined the term “sex worker” to more accurately describe the highly skilled customer service work that takes place within sex economies. 

 The use of the slur “prostitute” by the RCMP to describe victims of crime makes agonizingly clear who is and who is not seen as deserving of basic protection from the state.  The RCMP’s mandate is to ensure the safety of all people in the territories we call Canada.  Yet, how can they claim this to be their mandate when they are abdicating responsibility for properly investigating attacks on Indigenous women, sex workers, and women living in poverty?  How can we feel safe or protected by a police force, or within a system that clearly demonstrates its belief that some people are not deserving of protection?

That bias is hardly committed solely by RCMP or police broadly speaking, but it is up to each one of us to commit to undoing it because of the violence against women that this bias causes and excuses.  It is all of our responsibility to commit to properly interrogate and dismantle racist bias, anti-sex worker bias, and misogynist bias.

Violence against women on the basis of their gender does not take place in a vacuum.  It is not an isolated phenomenon that takes place between two people.  Rather, it is a social phenomenon that is made possible by widespread de-valuing of women and feminized people.  This de-valuating takes place when we tell jokes degrading sex workers, use violent language about women, or assume specific roles and behaviors based on gender.  These and many other social forces conspire together to teach us that women are “supposed” to be obedient, to sexually gratify men on demand, yet simultaneously to be modest and nurturing”. 

Read the entire piece by Brooklyn here.