She’s a middle-aged immigrant woman teaching business courses at Red River College’s downtown campus. She’s heard of and located me. She wants to chat…insistent I listen. Her words spill over, with pressing concern, forceful and pained. We meet in private. She has but an hour in-between classes to convey her urgent message: “Do you know, Sherrie, there’s a huge hidden gap in services in this city?” She goes on to disclose that there are professional and career women from the Eastern Block who are highly educated, who speak English fluently, who are either now well-employed or gaining their Foreign Credential Recognition in order to resume their careers here in Canada, or who are back in school re-educating themselves…and yet, they are living in intimate partner violence…their husbands are abusing them every day…and yet they stay. Stay? ‘Do you know why they don’t leave?’ she queries, leaning in toward me.
They don’t need to be in a residence. They stay because there are no safe social gathering places for them to meet other women who are going through the same experiences. Where they can learn that they are not alone. Where they can listen to other’s stories, swap resources and tips, perhaps even gain the courage to leave…to have hope again. With a furrowed brow and serious countenance, she matter-of-factly states, “I have two such women as students. They have nowhere to go. There are hundreds of these women in this city.”
“Sherrie, do something! Please open your doors, not just for the immigrant women who need a residence, but for those who need a safe meeting place – a place to discover that they are not alone, a place to gain the courage it takes to leave domestic abuse, a place to find themselves again and regain hope.” My heart felt pierced. Deep in thought, I walked back to my car wondering why there was this unmet need. All I could come up with is that we don’t know what is needed until we’ve heard it from those in need. Only once we have heard it, and our hearts have been pricked, can we then realize our power to do something. . . to impact another person’s life for good. I vowed then that SHADE would do something to meet this need. It is a disservice not to provide services for these career immigrant women who significantly help in creating the amazing fabric of our city and society.
SHADE is working on the design of culturally safe circles of support for professional immigrant women to meet in safe locations twice a month. These support groups will be offered in various communities within Winnipeg. To do this, SHADE needs to raise $10,000.00. This is not an impossible amount! Today, you can effect positive change through your donation to SHADE. Your donation will be used to help return hope to today’s women and tomorrow’s generation who need to escape domestic abuse/family violence.
To donate via CanadaHelps click here.