The project found that those most at risk were women who are isolated, Aboriginal especially those living on reserves, those who are marginalized, women who grew up witnessing violence, and those with low self esteem.
Clarice Eckford of the Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society says a lack of proper housing and being able to find child care are among the reasons for violence against women.
“Some of the discouraging things would be some of the major gaps in service that affect women and girls who are experiencing violence,” she says. “Some of the big service gaps are things like affordable housing, affordable and accessible child care, and councilling. Those are the three big gaps for families who are experiencing violence especially women and girls.”
She adds there are many things that can be done to help combat the problem but it is not an easy task. In discussions had with service providers, Eckford was told of approximately 30 different programs available, but the degree of staff turnover hinders the public’s awareness of those programs.
“There’s lots of different things that needs to be done; it’s such a complex issue. Certainly in Fort St. John there’s a number of contributing factors. There’s addiction issues. Drugs and alcohol play a big factor in violence. In terms of trying to reduce violence against women and girls the big thing is educating the community about what violence is and why it is happening and ways to prevent violence. It’s tough here because the service providers in town are excellent and there’s some really great services. The issue here is that there is quite a high turn over here. There’s a lot of people maybe aren’t aware that certain services exist so those referrals aren’t happening as often as they should be.”
Some of the suggestions provided by those taking part in the project included educating youth violence against women and girls, increase community awareness about local services, and changing attitudes in the community about violence against women and girls.
For more information on The Peace Project and to see the Peace Project Community Plan click here, or call the Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society at 250-787-1121.