From the Sioux Bulletin online at http://www.siouxbulletin.com//sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/bulletinapr192006.pdf
First Step Women’s Shelter honours mothers through Mother’s Day card campaign
Tim Brody - STAFF WRITER - Sioux Bulletin, April 19, 2006
MAY 14 is fast approaching and with it, the day reserved specifically to honour our mothers.
To mark the occasion the First Step Women’s Shelter in Sioux Lookout has teamed up with well known local photographer Allan Morrison to produce a special line of Mother’s Day cards featuring local women. It’s entitled “Honouring Our Mothers.”
Money raised from the sale of the cards will be used to purchase new outdoor play equipment for the shelter.
The shelter is a fourteen bed facility which provides a safe and secure emergency shelter for women and their children who have been physically, emotionally and/or sexually abused.
The staff and volunteers of the shelter facilitate the selfempowerment process of women and children who are survivors of violence and/or abuse by providing support and advocacy services within a safe haven.
All contacts with the women are confidential and nonjudgmental. The shelter is safe and secure. A woman can stay for a few days to think things out, or to heal from injuries, or she can stay up to six weeks or longer while she decides what to do next.
The shelter offers such services as 24 hour support, counseling and crisis intervention from shelter staff, and referrals, support and advocacy to outside agencies, including counseling, child services, family services, hospitals, clinics, legal services, employment services, housing and other community resources.
Also offered are emergency clothing for women and children, follow up contact for the woman who chooses to maintain contact with the shelter through the transitional support/outreach program, which connects women to necessary community supports such as housing, counselling, parenting support, education upgrading, job training, income support, legal aid, and health and wellness services.
Other services offered by the shelter include therapeutic counseling services for women who have survived physical, sexual, emotional, mental or spiritual abuse recently or in the past, who are presently living in an abusive relationship, or are residents of First Step Women’s Shelter or clients of the transitional support program.
A part time child care worker is on staff to provide babysitting.
The shelter is a nonprofit organization, funded through the Ministry of Community and Social Services, which can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 737-1438.
The crisis line is 1-800-465-3623. The shelter also has a web site, which can be viewed at www.fsws.ca.
From April 1, 2004 – March 31, 2005, the shelter provided emergency shelter services to 315 women and children and received 1108 crisis calls and had 126 admissions.
Statistics provided by the shelter state that one in four Canadian women suffers some form of abuse by a partner, approximately 40 per cent of wife assault incidents begin during a woman’s first pregnancy, and it is estimated that just 25 per cent of domestic violence incidents are reported.
Shelter Associate Director Charlene Greene said statistics such as these create the necessity for the shelter.
She said from April 1, 2005 to December 31, 2005 the shelter operated at 100 per cent occupancy.
Greene said there is a need to provide additional outdoor playground equipment as the current equipment is for pre-school children. Funds raised through the Mother’s Day card campaign will be used to purchase such equipment as a swing set, slide, and basketball net for children staying at the shelter with their mothers.
Morrison, who operates his own photography business, Morrison Photography, said the card campaign is a brilliant idea and he is honoured to be asked to facilitate it.
Shelter board member Heather Mesich conceived the card campaign and contacted local women to set up appointments and Morrison took their pictures.
He then submitted a short list of photos from which board members picked their favorites.
Morrison, who began work on the project February 19, was full of praise for not just the attributes which have made the women selected community leaders, but also for their patience, some having to pose for an hour and half while he worked.
Peggy Sanders is one of the nine women who will be depicted in the Mother’s Day cards.
The grandmother said anything that raises money for such a good cause is a good idea.
The Order of Canada recipient is depicted sitting in front of her piano, which she is currently learning to play.
Virginia Head, originally from Sandy Lake, is a working mother of three who is depicted with her youngest son Walter-James Head.
Her thoughts on the card campaign were that she was surprised she was picked as one of the nine women who will grace the cards.
“It’s a good cause and I was actually glad I could help out in any way I could. I’m always for any type of fundraising for good causes.”
She said that cards commemorating mothers are a good idea. “It’s probably one of the most important jobs a woman can have.”
Mesich commented, “Celebrating the woman in our community can combat women abuse by erasing negative stereotypes about women in terms of sexism and racism… and by having cards that celebrate and honour women we’re hoping to sort of remind people that we need to honour the women in our community and in doing that you’re honouring the spirit of the women in the shelter.”
The cards span the spectrum of motherhood from pregnancy to being a grandmother.
“When I look at them I feel a huge sense of pride in these women. There are hundreds of women who belong on cards in this community. We really have a fantastic population of women and it wasn’t hard coming up with people …,” she said.
Due to the diversity of the community, Mesich said it is important to have the cards feature an equal representation of Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal mothers.
The cards, which will sell for $5 each, will be available begining the last week of April.
They will be on sale at Bloomin’ Wild Flowers, Johnny’s Fresh Market and Rexall on Front Street. Bloomin’ Wild Flowers will reduce the price of flowers by $1 if a card is included in the purchase.