La Ronge may have placed high on a list of police-reported statistics about violence against women, but the numbers don't tell the whole story according to a women who works on the front lines.
In a report published by Vancouver based Discourse Media, La Ronge was found to have the third-highest rate of police-reported violence against women in the country. The report used Statistics Canada data from 600 communities, and the results were shared with paNOW. The data used in the report was collected between 2008 and 2015.
Piwapan Women's Center Executive Director Karen Sanderson said the numbers don't show a true reflection of the community.
“It's not really a positive highlight on some of the stuff we do here and some of the programs that are available,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson said the amount of work being done in the community by staff and volunteers from different organizations is a good example of the level of concern La Ronge has regarding violence against women.
She said the women's shelter is able to help 8 women and 12 children escape from violence at any given time. The shelter is also is licensed to host 16- and 17-year-olds escaping violent situations. Renovations which are currently underway will give one of the rooms full handicapped accessibility, she said.
“Our shelter is utilized quite frequently. We have been having to use a waiting list because of the number of cases we've been taking on recently,” Sanderson said, adding a number of shelters she knows have had to employ waiting lists as well.
She said a second-stage housing unit, which gives women working with Piwapan's outreach program a place to rebuild or transition should they decide to leave their community or start over, will hopefully be open by March 1.
“The awareness of our services is growing, so that's very good," Sanderson said. "We want to get more into the outreach stuff and get more into those services."
She said outreach work is done in both La Ronge and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. Workers share information about healthy relationships, domestic violence and which services are available. Piwapan also hosts the Iskwesis club, which was described as a girls' empowerment group led by local professionals and leaders on the centre's website. Crisis support is offered through the centre, and raising awareness about violence against women is highlighted through events like the Sisters in Sprit walk hosted in early October and the memorial heart displays set up in February.
The executive director identified a youth home as a service the community needs. She said prevention and awareness is important for young women, who are most at risk for violence. Having a safe place for them to stay is needed, she said, but more discussions must take place to make the home a reality.
“We have some programs going on, and we know there are more needs, but we're slowly trying to meet the current needs that we have that are related to violence,” Sanderson said.
--The police-reported sexual violence data featured in this story was originally obtained by Discourse Media.
On Twitter: @BryanEneas
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