November marked Family Violence Prevention Month (FVPM) across the province. Locally, the Family Violence Coordinating Council (FVCC), a collaboration of 20 community organizations, is committed to using the FVPM platform to increase awareness, reassure survivors of their support and connect with fellow change-makers in a united, community-wide effort to end family violence in the Wood Buffalo region.
“Family violence is a serious issue, and it is always unacceptable,” says Mayor Sandy Bowman. “I am very thankful for the dedication of service providers, law enforcement, justice professionals, emergency responders and victim advocates who work tirelessly in support of survivors.”
As a region, it’s our shared responsibility to support survivors by becoming allies, engaging in conversation and demonstrating we are doing what we can to stand against family violence, be it within our homes, workplaces, schools or social networks.”
Family violence is more prevalent in our community than most realize and is a complex issue that is nearly impossible to measure. “While crisis line calls, shelter occupancy and victim services cases are all measured, they do not provide a complete picture of what is happening in our communities – it’s estimated that 70-80 per cent of violence and abuse cases go unreported,” says Michele Taylor, Waypoints Executive Director and FVCC Chair. “Instead of relying fully on statistics to measure efforts, we remain focused on the whole picture from prevention and awareness strategies, 24-hour crisis interventions and accessible, local resources to support those impacted by family violence.”
The FVCC works collaboratively with its partners to tackle the issue of family violence in the region through a multi-faceted approach that considers all socioeconomic repercussions from various forms of violence and abuse that can affect housing, employment, education and the overall safety in the community.
“We will have a greater impact on preventing all forms of abuse through community-wide, collective action,” continues Taylor. “This collective action involves multiple sectors bringing attention to the issue and taking a community responsibility approach to learning how to recognize the signs and taking action to stop family violence. We need our community to take a stance and say, ‘We will not allow family violence to continue.’”
The FVCC launched an Engaged Bystander campaign in August – a local campaign aimed at increasing awareness around the issue of family violence and creating momentum toward a culture shift in the Wood Buffalo region to stop family violence. Featuring community leaders with impactful messaging centred around community action and becoming engaged bystanders, the campaign also includes online resources for engaged bystanders to learn more about family violence and abuse, and how to recognize the signs and strategies to safely intervene. Further details on how to become an engaged bystander can be found on the FVCC’s website at woodbuffalofvcc.ca.
Special thank you to the following community members for their support and participation in this initiative
- Anna Gillespie, Deputy Crown Prosecutor, Crown Prosecutor’s Office
- Max McCoy, Fort McMurray Oil Barons Alumni (2020-23) and Owner The ON Season
- Jason King, Executive Director, Some Other Solutions
- Cliff Dimm, Director of Development, Syncrude Mine & Tanks, Suncor (Retired) & Board Chair of Waypoints
- Natasha MacArthur-Poole, Superintendent, Fort McMurray Catholic Schools
- Annalee Nutter, Superintendent Fort McMurray Public School Division
- Elder Robert Cree, Knowledge Keeper, Fort McMurray First Nation #468
- Kyrianne Mills, Firefighter/Primary Care Paramedic, RMWB Emergency Services
- Mafily Mae Diabagate, Branch Coordinator, FRAP-Society Région Wood Buffalo
- Constable Ninna Briscoe, Specialized Investigative Unit, Wood Buffalo RCMP
- Marty Giles, Owner, NorthStar Ford Lincoln
- Kristi Hines, Founder & Owner Hines Health Services Inc.
- Denean Robinson, President & CEO, Fort McMurray International Airport – YMM
- Austin Giles, Assistant Service Manager, NorthStar Ford Lincoln Performance
- Mayor Sandy Bowman, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
- Jay Notay, President & CEO, Keyano College