Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC) is thrilled to be the recipient of a generous $4.5 million donation from the Rogers family to improve the lives of women and children fleeing violence, the largest in WSC history.
“COVID-19 has taught us that a sector is only as good as its people,” said Lise Martin, Executive Director of WSC. “Shelter staff have been working creatively to adapt the services they provide to keep women and their children safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. This gift from the Rogers family will provide much-needed resources to our sector as it continues to adapt to new realities.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted violence against women in Canada. Since social distancing measures were introduced, at least 10 women and girls have been killed by intimate partners or family members and Canada’s worst mass murder was perpetrated by a man with a history of domestic violence.
“Our family is honoured to be able to do a small part to help Canadians and Canadian families as they try to recover from the difficult financial challenges that COVID-19 has brought to so many people, especially people already under financial stress,” said Martha Rogers, Chair of The Rogers Foundation. “All of the money will be donated in 2020 so we can make as immediate an impact as possible.”
A significant portion of the funds will be distributed directly to provincial and territorial associations to help build the capacity of the Violence Against Women (VAW) sector across the country.
“By supporting provincial and territorial shelter associations, the Rogers family will be encouraging local solutions and supports for our members who have continued to provide emergency shelter and other essential services throughout this crisis,” said Jo-Anne Dusel, co-chair of WSC’s Board of Directors and executive director of the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS). “This donation will help to build the capacity of shelters across Canada to respond to intimate partner violence in the context of the current pandemic and beyond.”
The remainder of the funds will be used to further the capacity of women’s shelters and transition houses across the country to support women and children fleeing violence in an ever-shifting climate. This will include increased training for shelter workers in serving marginalized women, with an emphasis on First Nations, Metis, and Inuit women; ensuring that shelters can continue to work together and learn from each other in a new, more digitally-focused context; enhanced work on the National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence and the National Housing Strategy; and a national prevention campaign that will include a comprehensive listing of programs for perpetrators.
“This donation from the Rogers family is much appreciated as the needs of emergency and second stage shelters across the country continue to increase, three months after the pandemic was declared,” said Gaëlle Fedida, co-chair of WSC’s Board of Directors and coordinator of l’Alliance des maisons d’hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale in Quebec. “Provincial funding varies a lot, and this significant amount will enable the VAW shelter movement to consolidate and share best practices.
Women’s Shelters Canada and its 14 member provincial and territorial shelter associations are incredibly appreciative of the Rogers family’s generous donation, which will support a multi-pronged approach to address intimate partner and family violence across Canada. We do not want to “return to normal” after the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to violence against women; this donation will help us move forward by keeping women and children safe.
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Women’s Shelters Canada brings together 14 provincial and territorial shelter organizations and supports the over 550 shelters across the country for women and children fleeing violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can find your nearest women’s shelter and its crisis line on www.sheltersafe.ca.