Imagine. She lives in a violent home and it has become a way of life. Her children are in danger and she cannot turn to her family for support. If she chooses to leave her community, she risks her family being homeless, ostracized, and without means.
She will be forced to enter a new, unfamiliar setting that discriminates against her on the basis of her race, gender, and background. Her lack of education will prohibit her from securing stable employment. Her different parenting style will be misinterpreted as bad parenting. She, and her children, will experience racism, sexism, and poverty here in Calgary.
Every. Single. Day.
“While 1 in 10 women in Canada is abused by her partner, almost 1 in 3 Aboriginal women is abused.” **
1 in 3.
Close your eyes and think of three women. She could be your sister, your mother, your friend, your neighbor, your colleague, or the woman standing next to you on the sidewalk.
1 in 3.
Yet her story is lost, swept under the rug, falls through the cracks. The oppression she has experienced on, and off, reserve has been internalized and leads to depression, mental health issues, and addictions. She has lost the connection to her culture and to her land. Her path has been arduous and her wounds are deep.
53% of the women served in our Community Housing Program are Aboriginal. We strive to acknowledge the historical context and the current realities or our Aboriginal clients. Our case managers and mental health specialists meet the women and children, where they are at in their lives, to provide flexible and fluid services and housing that fit the family. They ask questions to gain an understanding of Aboriginal culture; they walk alongside their clients as allies, advocates, support. Our program is about choice and empowerment to build “lives worth living for them, by their definition.” – Lana Bentley, Community Housing Program Manager.
Violence travels via secrecy and isolation. It is time to break the silence.
Will you acknowledge the violence?
What will you do to work towards the solution?
What questions will you ask?
** (Dr. Peggy J. Blair, Rights of Aboriginal Women On and Off Reserve, Scow Institute, October 2005).