Constitutional Challenge to Inadequate Legal Aid Services Launched 

West Coast LEAF and BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre (BCPIAC) are going to court to defend women’s right to fair and equal access to the family law system in the aftermath of fleeing violent relationships or dealing with ongoing situations of abuse from ex partners. In BC, legal aid services in family law are drastically underfunded, having been cut by 60% between 2002 and 2005.

“We have heard loud and clear from women in BC that legal aid – or the lack thereof – has played a significant role in their lives and the lives of their children. Without access to a publicly funded lawyer, many women in poverty are not able to get the adequate representation they need to resolve their complex cases, involving child custody issues and protection orders, and must navigate the system in fear and at risk, often facing their abusers in court alone,” says Debbie Henry, board members and spokesperson for Single Mothers’ Alliance of BC.

We share West Coast LEAF’s belief that no survivor of violence should be deprived of the legal help necessary to protect their rights and safety and their children’s well-being. #LegalAid4Women

Read the full press release

Sexual Assault Prevention Month  

May is Sexual Assault Prevention month, an opportunity to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on sexual assault prevention. We all have a role to play in ending sexual assault and harassment by shifting gender norms that uphold a culture of violence. Speak out against systems that fail women and prevalent attitudes, norms and behaviours that condone, excuse and encourage sexual violence.

In addition to prevention efforts through our Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Project, we are actively working to improve access to sexual assault services in the Corridor.

In our region, we need:

  • access expanded to 24/7 to facilitate “on-demand service” throughout the STS Corridor
  • access to 24/7 medical forensic services in Whistler and Pemberton
  • safe, reliable transport to these services when the survivor is ready to take that step and/or explore a mobile model of service delivery
  • ensure cultural competency and safety within service so Indigenous people, as well as people from the LGBTQ2S community, are comfortable accessing locally available services
  • a public awareness campaign to support common knowledge of how to access medical forensic services and what to expect from the evidence collection process, as well as follow-up care
  • exploration on how the Ministry of Justice can do more to support the delivery of medical forensic examinations

Contact us (604.892.5748) to learn more about our Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Project and how you can help.

#GetLoud for Mental Health 

It is estimated that in Canada approximately 1 in 3 women have experienced violence at some point in their adult lives and that 1 in 10 women are presently experiencing violence (Canadian Women’s Foundation). Experiences with violence can have significant impact on women’s mental health. According to the Report on Violence Against Women, Mental Health and Substance Use “women who have experienced violence have significantly higher rates of substance use and mental health concerns compared to women who have not.”

Currently, women in Canada who have experienced violence who have varying levels of mental health and/or substance use are often unable to access support that recognizes and responds to their lived experiences of the connections between these concerns and often face high levels of discrimination and judgment in society and in the services they attempt to access.

During Mental Health Week, we echo the Canadian Mental Health Association’s call to #GetLoud for mental health by speaking out against discrimination and stigma and using your voice to raise awareness and build support for yourself and those around you, including women who have experienced violence.

With the upcoming BC election on May 9, one way to #GetLoud is by contacting your local candidates. Let them know mental health is important to you, particularly developing violence-informed services that recognize and understand the impact violence has on mental health and substance use and respond to the needs of women impacted by these intersecting issues by providing more holistic, nonjudgmental services.

Notice of AGM

Howe Sound Women’s Centre is providing notice of the Society’s Annual General Meeting: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 5:30-8:00pm at the Squamish Adventure Centre: 38551 Loggers Lane, Squamish, BC.

Registration begins at 5:30pm, followed by formal proceedings at 6:00pm.

In order to vote, you must be a member in good standing with fees paid up to date. You may pay your annual fees upon registration.

Members wishing to apply for vacant positions on the Board of Directors must complete a Board Nomination Package and submit this via email to admin@hswc.ca, in person, or fax (604.892.5749) to Howe Sound Women’s Centre by Friday, June 2, 2017. Package must include nomination form, board candidate letter of consent, resume, short bio, and photo of each candidate. Please contact Sarah Saunders to obtain a Board Nomination Package at admin@hswc.ca.

The list of board nominees and Annual Audited Financial Statements will be provided to the Membership at least one week prior to the meeting.

For more information, please visit www.hswc.ca or contact us by phone at 604.892.5748.

“There is light in darkness, you just have to find it.” – Bell Hooks