Angela Marie MacDougall has seen the tragedy that can amount from gender-based violence up close.
The now-executive director of the Battered Women’s Support Service pivoted her career after losing a high school friend in the 1980s.
“That was when I changed the trajectory of my work, and became in some way, politicized, about ending gender-based violence,” she told Black Press Media.
MacDougall said since 2020 there has been a significant uptick in the number of outreach attempts from survivors, and according to a news release from the organization there were 94,736 outreach attempts between March 2020 and March 2022 from individuals experiencing domestic or sexual violence.
“Whatever gender equity we thought we made leading up to 2020, we’ve lost ground,” MacDougall said.
This summer, the service is running the ‘Sweat to Support Survivors’ fundraiser that seeks to promote health and wellness alongside spreading awareness of gender-based violence.
This individualized challenge is to raise money to support the service’s programs that support survivors who reach out to them.
At the participant level, MacDougall said one of the main aims of the fundraiser is to start conversations foster a sense of community based in promoting self-empowerment.
“The financial assistance that’s needed for the entire breadth of what one survivor needs to go through in order to leave a relationship is astronomical,” Sarah Jamieson, a trauma and somatics specialist at the service said in an interview.
The service’s fundraising goal is $50,000, enough to put 2,000 women through one of the offered programs according to Jamieson.
The Battered Women’s Support Service takes what Jamieson called a “multi-faceted approach” to supporting those who reach out. Alongside the crisis line that has been active since 1979, the service also offers legal advocacy, employment support, and specialized “by-and-for” supports for Black, Indigenous, and Latin-descent individuals run by members of those communities with similar lived experiences.
Anyone can register as a single participant or with a team, and all registrants must pick an activity and a duration.
Someone can register to run for a certain number of kilometres, or go on a multi-day hiking trip – as long as it involves physical activity, there are no limits. Participants must raise funds as part of their activity, and Jamieson said no matter the amount, donations are extremely helpful.
“Movement in any capacity has the ability to break down barriers,” Jamieson said.
The top three fundraisers can win prizes, and any person who raises more than $300 will receive a free challenge-branded sweatshirt.
“It’s a really flexible way to participate, and to participate in movement that makes sense for individuals. There’s nothing prescribed in how people need to move. It’s also a way for people to engage with the issue,” MacDougall said.
Registration is open until Aug. 14, and challenge donations are accepted until Aug. 31
The service’s crisis line can be reached at 604-687-1867, or toll-free at 1-855-687-1868.