2017 AGM Highlights Another Busy Year!

“Bottom line-Change Happens!” That was the final note made by keynote speaker, Jackie Lake Kavanagh during Violence Prevention Southwest Annual General Meeting on November 16, 2017.

The Child & Youth Advocate for NL, Ms. Lake Kavanagh thanked Bernice Hancock, Executive Director with the Community Education Network for the invitation and opportunity to address the coalition members and others in attendance. During her keynote she spoke of her role as “Advocate for the rights of children and youth of our province.” With a short slideshow she highlighted the office’s role, mandate and services offered.  She cautioned that “we as adults shouldn’t assume what youth are thinking,” and that she and her office, “meet them{youth} on the grounds where they feel safe”

She informed the audience that the OCYA is in the process of a conducting a provincial listening tour where NL young people have a voice. They are travelling across the province going into schools, meeting with Choices for Youth, working with youth groups and speaking at events such as this to meet them where they are. “We can’t advocate for what we don’t understand” she said.

Joining in on the day’s events and speaking with Ms. Lake Kavanagh were 1st and 2nd year Community Studies students from the College of the North Atlantic. One student offered how the day helped her learn more about the OYCA providing networking opportunities as this is the form of work she plans to pursue.

Members of the local coordinating committees: BSG Coalition to End Violence, HELP Committee and Peaceful Communities shared several of their events from the past year, highlighting some first-time held events such as Pride Week in Port aux Basques and Strengthening Families in Stephenville Crossing.

Laura Alyward, Councilor with the Town of Stephenville spoke about the importance of the work done by the coalition and how great it is to see so many younger people involved in community work. She congratulated SWCEV on “all the good work {you} do.” Encouraging the coalition to continue strong with their violence prevention initiative. Ms. Hancock concluded the day by echoing Ms. Alyward adding that if never ceases to amaze her “how much work we are able to do with small amounts of money,” giving credence to the uniqueness of the SWCEV in how it operates different than the other nine regional coordinating committees across the province.

Operating under the Community Education Network, SWCEV fiances and administrative duties are carried out by CEN staff, allowing the majority of the funding provided by the Provincial Government of NL Women’s Policy Office-Provincial Violence Prevention Initiative to go back into the community through violence prevention programs, services and activities.

At the end of the day, many agreed this was an opportunity to come together to share information, motivate and inspire each other to continue forging a path to a world in which violence no longer exists.

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The Advocate for Children and Youth is an Independent Statutory office of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador.


Elder Abuse Information Sharing

Violence Prevention Southwest (SWCEV) appreciated and accepted an offer to share information regarding what it is the organization does in the southwestern region of our province.

Kellie Kerpan, with Qalipu First Nation in Grand Falls-Windsor has taken her New Horizons project on the road, travelling around the island meeting with organizations and committees like SWCEV offering information and resources to our aging population.

Two sessions this week, in both Burgeo and Stephenville, offered seniors attending and presenters, like SWCEV, more insight as to what is necessary to help our province’s aging population be aware and able to protect themselves when it comes to various types of abuse.

The key, Bernice Hancock, of SWCEV, told those in attendance, is  “connectivity.” She said, “ensuring our seniors are not isolated and vulnerable is important.” Events and activities such as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Seniors Kitchen Parties, Respect Aging sessions and the monthly Community Cafes are some opportunities to offer information and build a network of supports in a fun-filled manner.


Take Back the Night

As stated on NL Sexual Assault Crisis & Prevention Center’s website, the Take Back the Night march “is an action created to enable large numbers of women to publicly express our anger and intolerance of violence against women and vulnerable groups.” From an early age, to avoid the risk of violent attacks, females are told to not walk alone, to avoid dark areas, don’t walk at night, to avoid strangers, in essence to give up independence, a right thousands of strong women fought for.  The reality is that the spousal-homicide rate for women in this province is 5 times higher than that of men, with the largest number experiencing violence at the hands of someone they love.*

“The Take Back the Night March is a public protest organized by women, for women. It serves as a means for women to unite and voice our desire to end the fear and perceived responsibility women experience when it comes to sexual assault, harassment, and other forms of violence.”

Generally communities come together to march on the third Friday in September in recognition of Sexual Violence Awareness Week. The local coordinating committees, under Violence Prevention Southwest supports local women’s centers in the area with this march.

This year in Stephenville, 61 females, or those identifying as female, marched from the Killick Cafe to LA Bown where they were greeted and welcomed by men, women and children of the Drumming Circle. Marchers and supporters enjoyed delicious bbq while taking time to read the many messages of survival and hope drawn on t-shirts as part of the Clothesline project.

Also on display were the Faceless Dolls a project of the Newfoundland Aboriginal Women’s Network. Each doll represents a person who were murdered or missing.

HELP Committee in Burgeo took part in their Take Back the Night Walk on Friday, September 28, 2017. Although the weather did not cooperate in their favour, over 40 women and children “united and voiced their desire to end the fear” and perception that women are responsible for sexual violence and  other forms.

For more pictures, check out Facebook

*Statistics Canada, Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2005


Members of Violence Prevention Southwest joined dozens others in their respective communities to show their support and acceptance during Pride Week 2017.

For the first time, the community of Port aux Basques celebrated Pride Week with a flag raising on September 18th and a Pride Parade and BBQ on September 23, 2017 with several members of Peaceful Communities joining the celebration with Port aux Basques Mayor Todd Strickland leading the march. 

With their fourth annual Pride Week, BSG Coalition to End Violence members, as part of Western Pride NL, organized and delivered several events throughout the week of September 25-Oct 1, 2017.

Stephenville Mayor Tom O’Brien proclaimed the week Pride Week with an official signing and flag raising at the Town Office on Monday, September 25. Other events held in celebration were an education session hosted at College of the North Atlantic on Gender Identification and proper use of pronouns; Walking Wednesday in both the middle and high schools; a Coffee House at Killick Cafe; Bar Night at Paradise Lounge and the Bar & Grill; concluding the week with a parade of colors through Main Street and ending with a musical celebration at Blanche Brook Park. 

Pride Week offers the LBGTQ community and their allies an opportunity to be inclusive and proud of their own true colors and diversity and to be accepted by their peers. Who wants to live in a world of uniformity and dreariness, let yourself be who you were born to be. Show your true colors with PRIDE!

For more pics on our PRIDE Week’s events, check out Facebook


FASD: Not your typical “Walk in the Park”

September 9th marks International  FASD day, a day to recognize and raise awareness about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and the plight of individuals and families who struggle with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). This day was chosen so that on the ninth day of the ninth month of the year, the world will remember that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should abstain from alcohol.

Today, to mark this event, several folks came together for the 2nd annual FASD Walk in the Park organized by Community Action Committee’s Healthy Baby Club and Western Health Primary Care with support by the Bay St. George Coalition to End Violence.

Unfortunately,with darkened skies and threats of rain, the number participating was smaller than last year, but, regardless those who participated in the walk enjoyed the refreshing jaunt and beautiful views of the floral garden at Blanche Brook in Stephenville.  Following the walk, the nine, young to young-at-heart enjoyed a nutritious lunch in the Jerome Delaney Pavillion at the beginning of the park walking away with resources and information to share.

While September 9th marks the day, it is a good time to share and raise awareness every day of the year about FASD.

According to Public Health Agency of Canada, “it is estimated that 1% of Canadians (360,000 people) have FASD, a brain injury that can occur when an unborn baby is exposed to alcohol. It is a lifelong disorder with effects that include physical, mental, behavioural and learning disabilities.” 

Kim Kendell, Youth Outreach Worker with Mental Health & Addictions and Community Education Network supports this event each year, and says the main goal of the Stephenville event, outside offering information and resources, is to “offer a non-judgmental event, where everyone can feel safe and accepted.”

For more information on FASD, you may visit the Healthy Pregnancy Guide or the Government of Canada’s website at Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

(Source: FAS World, Public Health Agency of Canada)

IYD #Youth Building Peace

The Bay St. George Coalition to End Violence (BSGCEV) partnered with the Southwestern NL Community Youth Network in recognition of International Youth Day on Saturday, August 12, 2017.

Several youth gathered outside Coleman’s Food Center, a local grocery store in Stephenville, to spread peace and happiness to customers and passers-by. Offering handwritten positive messages on brightly colored paper that were written earlier in the week by members of the community during the Stephenville Day festivities, these youth offered to some a glimmer of hope, happiness and love.

Vanessa Lee, Youth Engagement Coordinator with CYN, and member of the BSGCEV, recalled one particular moment when a senior lady hugged one of the youth who had handed her one such message.  Not knowing the message that was conveyed, Ms. Lee said she witnessed the joy it brought this lady as she thanked the youth for turning around her “bad day.”

It was these 200 random words of kindness, the dollar-store toys and the musical talents of the youth that made this event a successful one.  The message from these youth is clear…it doesn’t take a grand gesture to offer peace and happiness, it can sometimes be as simple as a SMILE!


True Colors for IDAHOT

May 17th marks a day when 120 countries come together in unity to support gender equality, sexuality and gender orientation. A day whereby the LBGTQ community and those who support and love them show their true colors and rally for the day when sexuality, gender expression is not a thing but just is.  May 17 is IDAHOT: International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. 

In recognition of today, the Bay St. George Coalition to End Violence partnered with the Western Pride Committee to hold a proclamation signing and flag raising event, inviting the community. Twenty-six individuals gathered at the Stephenville Town Hall in celebration as Mayor Tom O’Brien, with a small child sitting on his knee, listened as Chantel Drake, Chair of Western Pride Committee, read the official Proclamation. As he signed to cheers and applause, he declared May 17th International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. To which he added, “While May 17th is the designated day, every day should be a day where we are all equal!”

High and proud, the Pride and Transphobia flags can be seen flying outside the Stephenville Town Office. While inside, during every council meeting, a smaller replica can be seen sitting just to the front of the Mayor himself. 

Following the official ceremony, the diverse group of people, devoted to educating and rallying for change, gathered for refreshments and conversations. As one youth, hair colored with pride, sat proudly in the Mayor’s seat and assisted with the flag raising, one can only reflect that this is as it should be, a world where young people do not fear to be themselves, to be free to love and live as they choose. A world where one is not subjected to discrimination or punishment for being happy. 

As Margaret Meade said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Here’s to changing the world, one color at a time.

Each of us have a duty to ourselves and our world. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated during a statement released for IDAHOT,  “Today, I ask Canadians and people around the world to fight hatred, honour love, and defend human rights for everyone. Together, we can build a world where all of us are free to be who we are and love who we love.”

For more pics check us out on Facebook.

Be Bold for Change-International Women’s Day Celebrated

Over 130 men and women, individual and group representatives, gathered today, March 8th, to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Bernice Hancock, Chair for the BSG Women’s Centre’s Board of Directors, thanked and welcomed all for taking the time to celebrate in solidarity. She spoke of the “importance of recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of all women who have come before us and who are with us today.”  She encouraged each to support and listen to each other, to take value in the work of all women to “create a bold new vision of a world where we are safe, supported and equal.”

Following a hearty brunch, Jenny Wright, Executive Director of St. John’s Status of Women, delivered an empowering keynote address. She congratulated many women’s groups, particularly those in rural Newfoundland and Labrador for being bold in the women’s movement, having seen countless successes, among them being the BSG Women’s Centre who organized and held the first peace walk in Newfoundland.

Ms.Wright regarded how women are bold from the time they wake up in the morning, until they put their heads back on their pillows, in every aspect of their lives. Bold  in their choice to marry and bear children; bold in their choice of career even when faced with a salary inequality; bold when running for political or leadership role, quoting “there have only been 39 female MHA’s since 1949.”  She spoke of how it is time to not be silent anymore, that “women want change.” She encouraged the audience to remember that it was not formal organizations that are responsible for feminism and change in our province, but “that much of the change came because one woman stood up and said this is not right.”

Although women and girls all come from different places in their lives, each has the ability and power to make change. She shared 14 opportunities for action and reflection, something she created in honour the 14 women murdered in 1989 during the Montreal massacre.

College of the North Atlantic, Community Studies student, Miranda Targett was the recipient of the Stephanie Cormier Chaisson leadership award. Presented in honour of a dedicated woman from the Bay St. George area, who is remembered as being a “devoted mother, dedicated worker, who was born a leader.”

Wrapping the afternoon’s events, Executive Director of the BSG Women’s Centre, Janice Kennedy, declared she and her staff would be closing for the day at 2:44 pm this afternoon. A symbolic stand to show support for equal pay, she encouraged everyone to join the efforts in making a stance regarding the gender wage gap. In essence, women get paid for 82% of their work hours, in relation to men’s 100% pay.

Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.

To all women and girls worldwide…#BE BOLD FOR CHANGE!

Southwestern NL STANDS UP to Bullying

If you happen to be in and around towns, schools, government buildings, just about anywhere in the southwestern region of Newfoundland on Wednesday, Feb. 22 you would have noticed a similarity…PINK! Everywhere!

Under the Violence Prevention Initiative of the government of NL, local coordinating committees of Bay St. George Coalition to End Violence, Peaceful Communities and HELP Committee partnered with several organizations and schools to promote violence prevention in their respective communities. 

While the month of February is Violence Prevention Month, schools recognize the third Wednesday of February as STAND UP day or Pink Shirt day. A day where students, faculty and staff wear pink shirts in support of standing up against bullying, instead of standing by; an idea that originated in Nova Scotia when two high school seniors donned pink shirts after a Grade 9 student was ridiculed for his choice of colored shirt.

Each school has its own creative way of promoting the idea. Like St. Bonafice All Grade School in Ramea whose
classrooms decorated their doors in a Violence Prevention theme. How about the Pie Contest that Burgeo Academy held integrating fun while educating on the importance of violence prevention. There are many ways to show support and kindness like students in Port aux Basques who, during their Random Acts of Kindness Week, wrote thank you letters to local first responders. Students at the College of the North Atlantic’s Paramedicine accessorized their uniform with pink bowties for the day. Staff and students of Keyin College-Western Campus sported their pink shirts.

Teaching our youth about the importance of violence prevention is vital, however, this issue is not just limited to the young. Violence knows no age limit, race or religion.  Therefore, it’s great when you go to your local public health nurse’s office and see the staff in their pink shirts. Or when you drop by the local grocery store to pick up something for dinner and are offered a piece of cake, decorated in pink icing and pink balloons everywhere. In Stephenville, on a Monday night during the weekly bingo, patrons came dressed in pink clothing of all sorts, with one senior gentleman having gone as far as to have his granddaughter paint his fingernails pink. Businesses 
windows and doorways welcomed customers with pink posters, decorations and merchandise during that day!

What an amazing feeling to know that Southwestern NL is taking a stance and STANDing UP to bullying and violence and refusing to stand by any longer. To quote singer/songwriter Sam Cooke, “Oh what a wonderful world it will be!” Together we will make it happen!

Check out our Facebook page to see many more pics of how pink southwestern Newfoundland got.