National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Trans, and Two-Spirit People

Unceded lands of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations/Vancouver, BC) – Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) is in solidarity with Indigenous families, communities, and survivors in honour of all of the lives of our murdered and disappeared Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people whose lives have been taken by acts of violence: more often than not, acts of violence committed by men. Too many families and communities have been affected by the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people. Today and every day, we ask all of our staff, volunteers, and allies to stand in solidarity with us.

Violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people is deeply rooted in Canada’s history, and will continue to do so until the lives of Indigenous women, girls, trans and Two-Spirit people are no longer considered disposable. It will continue to be rooted in Canada’s history until the demands for justice for murdered and disappeared Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people are answered, are pursued, are believed, are investigated, are tried and convicted.

Indigenous women and girls in Canada have been murdered or have gone missing at a rate five times higher than their rate of representation in Canada. And yet, Canada still has done nothing.

Calls for recommendations made over the last decade continue to sit on a shelf and go unanswered. Because of this failure, Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing, and are eight times more likely to face abuse, than non-Indigenous women.

Along with the state failure to protect Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people, the criminal justice system also continues to fail them. Cases of murdered or disappeared Indigenous women are far more likely to go uninvestigated, and unsolved. As a matter of fact, not only do they go unsolved—they are ignored, dismissed and in closed cases, with no answers or answers that are absurd.

The following three points are an adaptation from the Red Women Rising Report. BWSS is in complete solidarity and supports these calls to actions that can immediately be implemented at a provincial and federal level.

  1. Violence against Indigenous women and girls is a violation of inherent, constitutional, and internationally protected Indigenous rights. Implementation of the united Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people (UNDRIP) at all levels of government, assertion of Indigenous title over lands and jurisdiction over law-making, and restoration of collective Indigenous women’s rights and governance is the only meaningful way to end this violence.
  1. Increased state enforcement alone cannot eliminate violence against Indigenous women and girls because structural violence is connected to individual acts of male violence. A comprehensive plan to end violence against Indigenous women must address socio-economic factors including equitable access to self-determination over land, culture, language, housing, child care, income security, employment, education, and physical, mental, and spiritual health.
  1. Indigenous women are not silent victims or stereotypes. Indigenous women come from diverse nations and families, and have unique stories and dreams. Indigenous women in the DTES are all leaders who contribute countless hours to the community and will never stop fighting for justice. Any policies, services, and solutions must be based on Indigenous women’s collective input and leadership.

Violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people are at epidemic levels. Canada is in a state of crisis and should be ashamed as to how little they have done to value, honour, respect, and protects the lives of Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people. Despite this, the resistance and resilience of Indigenous women, girls, trans and Two-Spirit people have been louder and bolder than ever.

Here’s to honouring each other’s unique stories and preventing erasure in a world that is committed to their disappearance; to reconnecting and protecting the lands; and to continuing the fight for justice.

Wildflower Women of Turtle Island Drum Group shares the Strong Women’s Song with each and every one of you. This song comes from one of our sisters who was in PWD4 Solitary Confinement in the Kingston Penitentiary. She sang this song for strength. And today that is the message we want to share with you: The message of strength, of survival, of never giving up.

Time to Thrive: Join Thriving

Thrive is one of our programs at BWSS that is carefully-designed to support the diverse needs of women with lived experience in sex economies in setting and achieving their goals.

Thrive offers a non-judgmental space where participants can meet one-on-one with a support worker to explore trauma and coping, build healthy coping tools, develop their support system and/or explore options for meeting their everyday needs including: housing, legal advocacy, treatment, clothing, emergency shelter, safety planning, support groups, and many other goals.

We have a new workshop that will help you thrive!

Thriving is a safe, confidential place for women with experience in sex economies to build community and empowerment every Thursday evening from 6 to 8 pm starting on Thursday, October 22, 2020.

A $20 gift card will be provided to each participant after every workshop.

What you can look forward to:

  • Week 1 – Visioning
  • Week 2 – Goal setting
  • Week 3 – Building safety and community
  • Week 4 – Traditional healing ceremonies and practices
  • Week 5 – Trauma-informed healing practises and tools
  • Week 6 – Social wellness: Rights and self-advocacy
  • Week 7 – Healthy relationships: Myself and others
  • Week 8 – Economic resources
  • Week 9 – Exploring volunteering, educational, and employment opportunities
  • Week 10 – Reflecting and celebrating

To join Thriving:

Please contact Brooklyn by phone or text 604-808-4378 or by email thrive@bwss.org.

Please help us get the word out — share this poster today!

Battered Women’s Support Services in need of more crisis line volunteers as support for domestic violence victims and survivors expand

Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) has been taking calls from victims and survivors at their most vulnerable times for the past four decades. As of March 2020, BWSS expanded their community-based crisis line to support 24/7, and added a texting service in addition to communicating by email. BWSS’s crisis lines rely on dedicated, trained volunteers to support, educate, and empower callers to a life free from violence. More volunteers are needed and BWSS’s world-renowned Violence Prevention and Intervention Training Program is now accepting applications to join the fall cohort starting on September 18, 2020.

Participants of the free training program are provided skills-based knowledge grounded in a strong theoretical framework for understanding violence against women and girls in relationships and systemic oppression. The training program covers crisis intervention, peer counselling, safety assessment, safety planning, advocacy, referrals, group facilitation, and public education.

The crisis line typically gets 18,000 calls annually. However, this year, calls have increased by 300 per cent as the crisis line is now open 24/7 and as COVID-19 exposes more victims to danger and lethality for having to stay at home. Most calls from the crisis line are from victims and survivors, family members, children and youth, and coworkers. Forty per cent of callers are calling for the first time.

“The crisis line is where we learn of the unique and changing needs of survivors and victims across various demographics and we build our systemic advocacy based on the calls we receive,” said Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director of BWSS. “Volunteering with us is a way of giving back to the community for those who deeply care about ending gender-based violence. Our volunteers make a difference in the lives of thousands of victims and survivors as they are the first point of contact, becoming a gateway to accessing services including counselling, legal advocacy, and our various specialty programs that centre the needs of our callers.”

The training is now mostly virtual, which creates more options for participants who need the flexibility. Many of BWSS’s services are also offered virtually and in person. There are many shifts that need to be filled as the line is always open, and the crisis line offers shifts online and from home. Volunteers are supported and supervised by experienced and trained BWSS staff while on shift.

“Our goal is for victims to become survivors, and to live free from violence,” said Elza Horta, Crisis Line and Intake Coordinator at BWSS. “We also receive calls from people who want to help survivors and want to be active in the community especially during the increased rates of domestic violence during COVID-19. There are lots of education, life-changing and life-saving conversations happening over the phone.”

For more information about the Violence Prevention and Intervention Program and to apply for the fall training now, visit bwss.org/volunteer.

The BWSS Crisis Line is available 24/7 and can be reached by phone at 604-687-1867 or 1-855-687-1868; by texting 604-652-1867 or email intake@bwss.org.

 

BWSS Legal Services and Advocacy Program will be resuming our clinics

We’re happy to be resuming our Legal Forms Clinic

Our Legal Forms Clinic are for Supreme and Provincial Court Family forms. They are offered for no fee and are facilitated by legal advocates and interns who can help women draft very specific family law court forms. We’re able to  help women who know which forms need to be filled out (e.g Affidavit, NOFC, NOA, F8, etc.).
 

The clinic will happen twice a month, every other Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Each appointment lasts two hours, and we ask women to come 15 minutes prior to their appointment so we can efficiently work together. There will be two BWSS legal advocates (Mayra Albuquerque and Summer Rain Bentham) and a legal intern from UBC Allard School of Law, allowing us to help three women per clinic. Legal advocates and interns will not be providing legal advice.

 

We are pleased to have family law lawyer Tanya Thakur who will be available as the duty counselor at each clinic, and will review the forms filled out by legal advocates and interns, and in some cases, will swear affidavits or F8.

 

The Legal Forms Clinic is available on the following dates from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.:
• Thursday, September 10
• Thursday, September 24
• Thursday, October 8
• Thursday, October 22
• Thursday, November 5
• Thursday, November 19

 

If you are interested in attending a Legal Forms Clinic, please contact the BWSS Intake Line at 604-687-1867 or 1-855-687-1868 (toll-free) or email intake@bwss.org.
Our Family Law Clinic is here to help women access justice

Our Family Law Clinic are staffed with pro-bono family law lawyers who will give free legal advice to women who are low-income (including division of assets & debt), and help them prepare to go to court. Please note that the pro-bono family law lawyers cannot prepare typed legal documentation or go into court on behalf of women.

 

Typically, the pro-bono family law lawyer advises women, and then, women will have to make a separate appointment with BWSS legal advocates to figure out their next steps. Appointments with the pro-bono family law lawyer will last approximately an hour, which will allow us to help three women per clinic.

 

Thank you so much to our pro–bono lawyers for their time and expertise in helping increase women’s access to justice. All too often women are self-representing in their family law cases without the benefit of legal support, and these services are extraordinarily important in dealing with abusive partners who often have lawyers to represent them.

 

The Family Law Clinic is available on:
• Saturday, August 29: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Wednesday, September 9: 5 to 8 p.m.
• Saturday, September 26: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m
• Wednesday, October 14: 5 to 8 p.m.
• Saturday, October 24: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Wednesday, November 4: 5 to 8 p.m.
• Saturday, November 21: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

If you are interested in attending a Family Law Clinic, please contact the BWSS Intake Line at 604-687-1867 or 1-855-687-1868 (toll-free) or email intake@bwss.org.

Work and volunteer at BWSS

Apply to come work with us

We are a feminist ending violence organization with an entrepreneurial spirit known for our commitment to creating and implementing programs and services that empower women from all walks of life. We offer the opportunity to work within an accomplished team making a difference every day on the frontline and beyond. If you are looking to work in an organization engaged in making a real difference in the lives of children and women in our community, please apply to work with us!

The following positions are currently open:

  • Research and Policy Analyst
  • Indigenous Women’s Legal Advocate
  • Housing Advocate
  • Latin American Women’s Counsellor
  • Volunteer Coordinator for My Sister’s Closet

Sign up for our Prevention and Intervention Volunteer Training

Our Prevention and Intervention Volunteer Training Program is offered to self-identified women who want to obtain the necessary skills to contribute to end gender-based violence, and will be offered again starting on September 18 to December 4, 2020.

We’re proud to say that our training is well-respected and well-known in the anti-violence community. Program training participants gain skills in crisis intervention, peer counselling, safety assessment, safety planning, advocacy, referrals, group facilitation, and public education.

With our crisis line and intake now extended to 24 hours a day and seven days per week, we are grateful for the commitment of our volunteers who help us respond to victims and survivors on the other side of the crisis line.

Consider these when helping your loved one suffering from domestic violence

For those that are experiencing domestic violence, reaching out to a loved one is extra challenging under COVID-19.

Now that we are in a different phase of the pandemic, it has been recorded that more than a million Canadian women lost their jobs in the first two months of the pandemic, and are facing additional stressors related to finances, and health. Some are torn about the next steps for their children’s futures.

Our crisis line continues to take calls from people who are concerned about their loved ones experiencing domestic violence. Although there are so many factors that are even more frustrating at this time, your friend or family member may still be unable to contact you because of their abusive partner. Your support, involvement and presence continue to be vital.

Please consider the above thoughts when talking to your loved one who is suffering from abuse.

You can also call our crisis line and we can help you determine how you can support your loved one.
📞 Call 604-687-1867 or 1-855-687-1868
📱 Text 604-652-1867
✉️ Email intake@bwss.org

Wear your support for BWSS

We’re selling shirts with 100% of proceeds going towards our mandate to end gender-based violence.

If you’re interested in other fashionable wear, check out our social enterprise My Sister’s Closet – social enterprise of Battered Women’s Support Services. We have an online shop and our store at The Drive (1830 Commercial Drive – Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm) is now open!

Thank you very much for your support.

We’re here to serve you online and in person

Here for you in person too

Our direct service team has been working very hard since social isolation was mandated in March.  Our office has remained open for drop-ins and staff have been onsite. As we enter the next phase of the pandemic here in BC, we are offering more services at our confidential location in Vancouver.

Crisis Line and Intake Coordinator Elza and volunteer Breanne, along with the rest of the staff are practicing physical distancing in the office as we continue to offer in-person services as well as virtual sessions. Although our office hours are still reduced, we acknowledge the importance of having face-to-face sessions for many of the women we serve, and have continuously found ways to stay connected.

Volunteers back in action

Congratulations to BWSS Prevention and Intervention trainees who graduated from a unique spring 2020 training series.  BWSS has offered this training for 40 years and this year, under COVID-19, the entire session happened virtually in addition to our support group with the entire session happened virtually in addition to our Healing from Trauma support group with Ileah and Daniela; Wildflower Women of Turtle Island Drum Group and art workshops by Summer-Rain and Michelle; and the Advancing Women’s Awareness Regarding Employment Program (AWARE) workshops by Stephanie and Claudia. Big thanks to our wonderful team members including Manager of Direct Services and Programs, Rosa Elena Arteaga, and Crisis and Intake Coordinator Elza Horta who did a fabulous job moving the training to the virtual world. 

Our trainees have now become committed volunteers, taking calls through our 24-hour-and-7-day-a-week crisis line. Great work, everyone!

Our training is world-renowned, and if you would like to join the September 2020 session to take action on gender based violence through our crisis and intake line, we would be thrilled to have you join us.

We offer Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression and Ending Gender Violence workshop

With the continued movements such as Black Lives Matter and Land Back, which demand to eradicate racial injustices and inequities globally, BWSS is proud to be a part of these movements by providing anti-racism training for thirty years. We have now also designed a workshop especially for anti-violence organizations. Angela Marie MacDougall, our Executive Director, is conducting an Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression and Ending Gender Violence workshop for the great people at Sara for Women, a feminist non-profit society providing safe refuge and community-based resources for women in Mission and Abbotsford.

The Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression and Ending Gender Violence workshop intends to deepen the application of an anti-racism and anti-oppression framework in the frontline work of women’s and anti-violence organizations.

Working Towards an Intersectional Feminists Recovery

According to a report by RBC, Canadian women’s participation in the labour force is down to its lowest level in three decades, while also having to shoulder more child care responsibilities than men. The federal and provincial governments are now talking about what “recovery” could mean and unfortunately we are seeing minimal recognition and action on the impact for women.  As a founding member of Feminists Deliver, we are taking action on “just recovery” through a report, This Economic Labour Hurts the Arch of Our Backs: A Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for COVID-19.

Find our more by listening to our Executive Director Angela Marie MacDougall’s interview alongside Feminists Deliver’s Priscilla Omulo with CBC’s Stephen Quinn.

We’re now a part of BC Society of Transition Houses

We’re excited to be members of the BC Society of Transition Houses, which supports anti-violence workers in their work to provide the most compassionate and effective help possible for women, children and youth experiencing violence. Together, we can be a strong voice for those we support and advocate for the changes needed to end violence against women, children and youth.