A time to remember and support victims of family violence

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Nov. 30 marks the end of Family Violence Prevention Month, but not the end of the problem, which includes an increase in ‘femicide’ (the homicide of a woman) during COVID-19.

“Every six days, a woman is killed by an intimate partner or ex-intimate partner in Canada,” says Northern Haven Support Services executive director Shelly Ferguson.

Northern Haven Support Services is #wheretoturn to escape domestic violence in Slave Lake area. It runs a women’s emergency shelter (children are also allowed) and has community and outreach workers who provide support for women, children, and men, escaping abuse who live outside the shelter. This outreach branch also does events to raise awareness.

On November 26 at 7 p.m., Northern Haven is holding an online Family Violence Prevention Month Candlelight Vigil.

The event is to remember “survivors and victims,” says Ferguson.
It will be on Northern Haven’s Facebook page.

“We used to do it (a vigil) a long time ago,” says Ferguson. This then morphed into an open house and banquet. Last year, Northern Haven mixed things up. It held three large events and worked in schools.

“This year a lot of stuff got cancelled,” says Ferguson. When it came to Family Violence Prevention Month, getting creative instead of canceling became the motto.

At the beginning of the month, Northern Haven gave businesses purple ribbons instead of giving them to individuals. It also hung them around downtown Slave Lake. As already mentioned, the vigil is online.

The other main Northern Haven tradition in November is for the board to set up at the Moonlight Madness Market to accept donations of necessary items and Christmas gifts.

Women and children escaping violence often leave with the clothes on their backs, says Northern Haven board chair Lynne Haas. Therefore, the shelter is always in need of pajamas, toques, mitts, underwear, socks, and other necessities. Also, it is very nice if kids have some gifts to unwrap at Christmas.

This year, the board put “a little different spin” on the annual purple tree of giving, says Haas. It will be a drive-thru donation.

The purple tree of giving will be in the Slave Lake Canadian Tire parking lot on Dec. 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. and Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Board members, the purple tree and banners will be set up, but people will do contact-less drop off. This will be a box or bin for physical donations and the board is working out how to safely accept cash.

Shelly Ferguson

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