About 40 people gathered at the community complex on March 4 for what organizer Dina Bambrick called A Conversation About Violence Against Women.
It was just one of several events organized by the Kootenai Community Centre Society after it received funds from the Justice and Children and Family Development ministries.
“The day was the result of some very rushed and intensive planning by our staff and board of directors,” said Bambrick. “But I was pleased at the willingness of so many to take part with quite short notice.”
From a relevance perspective, the timing couldn’t have been better. This month a survey revealed that on just one day, 242 shelters in Canada helped 4,178 women and 2,490 children. The survey also shows that 116 of the women were pregnant and 184 had been threatened by a gun.
When an application for funding was approved, KCCS took a multi-pronged approach to promote awareness. The day included a workshop for the Interagency Case Assessment Team (ICAT) members, a visit from BC Lions centre Angus Reid and the Conversation about Violence session.
“We got lucky that Angus would take this on with such short notice,” said Bambrick, who also credited the involvement by the RCMP. “(Staff Sgt.) Bob Gollan has been awesome. He said that the awareness day was a good idea and encouraged us to make it more of a social conversation and involve the community.”
ICAT is a relatively new approach that Gollan says is a big step in tackling the problem of violence against women.
“It came as a result of a group that we already had that decided to explore the ICAT approach being used in some other B.C. communities,” he said.
Regular meetings now include representatives from KCCS, the Creston and District Community Resource Centre, Ministry of Children and Family Development and Lower Kootenay Band social services. Also participating are probation officers, family doctors, Interior Health representatives and the victim services co-ordinator.
“It’s a very strong program where we discuss and assess potential serious problems and then develop intervention strategies,” he said.
Following a presentation about ICAT, the Conversation About Violence session turned into a general discussion about violence against women, with a variety of perspectives shared by participants.
Later, following a dinner in the Creston Room, Reid took to the stage to talk about the Be More Than a Bystander program that he and fellow BC Lions volunteer in. Earlier in the day, he had met with a group of Prince Charles Secondary School students.
“I tell students that I don’t care about their motivation for doing the right thing,” he said. “What I want is to see them do the right thing.”
The right thing, Reid said, is to not be part of or tolerate bad behavior against women. Casual joking in a sports locker room can lead to an attitude that says its OK to abuse women.
Bambrick was so impressed with the Be More Than a Bystander program that she has asked Reid, who announced his retirement from football on Friday, to return soon. He has agreed, she said.
“Organizing this event took a huge effort by our staff and our board of directors,” Bambrick said. “I would like to thank them, and to all those who participated in the sessions. We hope that we have taken another step forward in reducing violence against women.”