News Release 2021 Federal and Provincial Budgets Revealed Amid the Third Wave of COVID-19

Gender Equity Learning and Knowledge Exchange

2021 Federal and Provincial Budgets Revealed Amid the Third Wave of COVID-19

For immediate release: April 20, 2021

Vancouver, BC –The budget takes important steps towards addressing gender based violence. The pandemic has exposed and amplified long-standing inequities, disproportionately impacting women and people of marginalized genders. We are hopeful that the 2021 federal budget will help those most vulnerable in our communities, as BWSS continues to work on the frontline to end gender-based violence.

“We recognize that economic recovery requires addressing systemic inequities and gender-based violence from a feminist, intersectional perspective”, said Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director at BWSS, “And we have called for action to support Black, racialized and Indigenous women and people marginalized by their gender who face oppression in different forms”.

$600 million anti-violence initiatives through the National Action Plan -$400 million earmarked for gender-based violence organizations, which BWSS called for through our work with Women’s Shelters Canada.

This includes:

  • $55 million for anti-violence programs for Indigenous people and LGBTQ2S
  • $30 million for crisis lines
  • $2 million for anti-violence programs for immigrant and refugee women
  • $85 million for legal advice and representation for victims of sexual assault
  • $11 million for better disaggregated data for research projects
  • $14 million for a National Action Plan Secretariat

Budget 2021 proposes to invest an additional $2.2 billion over five years to address the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murder of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. With the release of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls almost two year ago in June 2019, Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people continue to go missing and/or be murdered. Immediate action and implementation of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls needs to be made.

The 2021 budget also pledges $30 billion over 5 years for affordable child care. Locally, the BC Child Coalition has been hard at work, advocating for affordable child care. It’s encouraging to see their success on this front, with the goal of $10 a day child care becoming a reality by 2026. For women who access BWSS services and programs, lack of access to affordable child care is one of the main factors that traps women in abusive relationships.

$250 million to create 560 spaces in shelters and transitional houses -up to 43 new spaces in each province and territory. This investment is so important for women and their children’s safety when feeling violence.

$45 million to fund community-based organizations that help make sexual and reproductive health care information and services more accessible for vulnerable populations; dedicated funding to support better data collection on sexual and reproductive health.

Announced today, BC 2021 budget leaves much to be desired when it comes to gender based violence and gender equity for the province. This budget being released in the third wave of the pandemic is a reminder of how important it was to see the current government’s commitment to gender equity and ending gender based violence.

“BWSS has seen a drastic spike in requests for services during the pandemic”, says Rosa Elena Arteaga, Director of Direct Services and Clinical Practice at BWSS. “We know that this pandemic has further isolated and put women in danger through stay at home orders and other measures to reduce the spread of COVID 19. It was our hope that this years’ BC budget would address these issues that impede women’s safety and equity in BC”.

We applaud the attention the government has finally paid to address women and people of marginalized safety in rural regions with the commitment of $4.5 million to improve cellular service on Highway 16 from Prince Rupert to Prince George. “This will help make the highway safer for many Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit people”, says Summer-Rain, Manager of the Indigenous Women’s Program at BWSS, “However, it is disappointing that there is not a stronger focus in the budget supporting Indigenous women and human rights”

There has also been a pledge to support women, single parents, refugees, Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ2S and people with low incomes with access to legal systems by committing $132 million for equitable access to justice. However, we note that it is unclear how the investment will particularly support women who are self-representing in family law situations.

Unlike the strong commitment towards affordable childcare in the Federal budget, the province has allocated $233 million over three years towards childcare, less than the $250 million they committed to at election time.

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Media contact:

Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director, BWSS – 604-808-0507

About Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS)

Established in 1979, Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) is on the front-line in the effort to end gender violence, including domestic and sexual violence. Every day, the BWSS team takes action through the delivery of direct services, training, legal, institutional and systemic advocacy and social enterprise responding to over 18,000 requests for service annually – with COVID-19 requests have increased to over 30,000. Forty-one years later and BWSS continues as a committed member of the decolonizing and anti-oppression feminist movement emphasizing the necessity of community-based approaches and interventions into what are some of the most pressing social problems of our time. For more information: www.bwss.org

Download the news release here. 

Online Resource Goes Live to Help End Gender Based Violence

Gender Equity Learning and Knowledge Exchange

First of Its Kind in B.C., Online Resource Goes Live to Help End Gender Based Violence

Press release

For immediate release: April 14, 2021

Vancouver, BC – For Prevention of Violence against Women week, April 11 to 17, 2021, a gender-equity provincial advisory group launches, the Learning and Knowledge Exchange online resource platform. Inspired by a similar Ontario-based resource, virtual hub mobilizes community-based experiences and evidence-informed resources to advance gender equity by ending gender-based violence. The website will feature webinars, curricula, research and resources to promote British Columbia-based networks directly supporting programs, operations and systemic advocacy of the ending gender-based violence sector and its allies.

“The BC Society of Transition Houses and its membership is honoured to be part of the BWSS Gender Equity Learning & Knowledge Exchange to support the growth of this dynamic inter-disciplinary intersectional resource for BC to prevent and end gender based violence for all.” Said Amy S. FitzGerald, Executive Director, BC Society of Transition Houses.

“The Gender Equity Learning and Knowledge Exchange will connect practitioners, in any field or discipline, with each other to discuss their work, learn from one another.” said Angela Marie MacDougall executive director Battered Women’s Support Services. “The key ingredient in this innovation is experiential knowledge by centring the voices of Black, Indigenous and people of colour who affected by gender inequity and gender-based violence.”

“As a lifelong social justice advocate for Indigenous people, I believe we need strengthen our supports, knowledge, and action by and for Indigenous women and girls” Said Leslie Varley, Executive Director, BC Association Aboriginal Friendship Centres “I’m looking forward to joining this amazing group of people to share, learn, collaborate and grow together.”

The provincial advisory committee will provide expertise on research, curriculum development, practice, and prevention and help convene knowledge keepers and assist in disseminating knowledge derived. Hosted by Battered Women’s Support Services, the provincial advisory group includes representatives from BC Society of Transition Houses; BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres; West Coast LEAF; Rise Women’s Legal Centre; Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour; BC Refugee Hub and Newcomer Info; Qmunity; and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.

“This project is important to me because, as a Two-Spirited & queer person, I am excited to see more grounded representation and understanding of two-spirited identities.” Said Songbird, Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. “I am proud to play a role in helping the community understand the cultural importance and roles of our two-spirited peoples.”

“Gender equity is a collective responsibility and requires commitment from everyone to make impactful change” Said Bahar Taheri, Project Consultant, BC Refugee Hub.

“I raise my hands to BWSS for stewarding the Gender Equity Learning and Knowledge Exchange. This initiative will ensure community members have open access to information that is relevant and useful to them!” said Nancy Laliberte, PhD

“I am so excited to been able to access specialized information and knowledge through the BWSS Gender Equity Learning & Knowledge Exchange.” Said Rosa Elena Arteaga, Director Clinical Practice at BWSS. “This is a one of a kind resource for the anti-violence community, academics, researchers, and everyone who wants to learn more about gender equity ”

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Media contact:

Angela Marie MacDougall
Executive Director, BWSS
604-808-0507

 

About Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS)

Established in 1979, Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) is on the front-line in the effort to end gender violence, including domestic and sexual violence. Every day, the BWSS team takes action through the delivery of direct services, training, legal, institutional and systemic advocacy and social enterprise responding to over 18,000 requests for service annually – with COVID-19 requests have increased to over 30,000. Forty-one years later and BWSS continues as a committed member of the decolonizing and anti-oppression feminist movement emphasizing the necessity of community-based approaches and interventions into what are some of the most pressing social problems of our time. For more information: www.bwss.org

More Information:
The Gender Equity Learning and Knowledge Exchange https://genderequitylke.org/
The Learning and Knowledge Exchanges https://genderequitylke.org/learning-knowledge-exchanges/
Projects Underway https://genderequitylke.org/our-work-end-violence/#projects

The Gender Equity Learning and Knowledge Exchange is possible because of the financial support from the Vancouver Foundation and My Sister’s Closet – social enterprise of Battered Women’s Support Services.

Gender Equity Learning and Knowledge Exchange

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 [email protected].
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 [email protected].

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 [email protected]

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.