WEAAD: Education can be fun!

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Not the most fun sounding title for a day, but, with a fun and interactive environment, learning how to protect yourself and those you love can be.

For eleven years the BSG Coaltion to End Violence has been organizing their annual Seniors Kitchen Party in recognition of this day, or as they call it…WEAAD. Offering live music, a hot meal and interactive entertainment combined with many community display boards, seniors enjoy a fun day, filled with important information regarding services and tips to make aging easier and safer.

This year, gathered at the Royal Canadian Legion, seniors were pampered and treated to a delicious hot roast turkey dinner with cake for dessert. Keynote speaker, Nancy Power of Service Canada spoke of changes to the Old Age Security program and Death Benefits. Paula Woodfine and Cheryl Johnson from the YMCA got participants up and out of their chairs punching and moving to musical beats of oldies but goodies. Each were offered a complimentary session as a parting gift, thanks to the YMCA.

Not to sit idly when music is pumping through speakers, dancers from the Twilight 50+ Dancers Club in Port au Port, kick-started the dance thanks to the musical entertainment of local band Overflow.

During the afternoon event, participants were encouraged to browse the dozen community display boards each promoting their own programs and services offered to our aging citizens.

As the day came to a close, many stopped a moment to get capture the day with a photo. Dressing in silly hats, colorful boas and accessories many posed at the photo booth to reflect the smile they carried inside with all vowing to return again next time!

Each of the local coordinating committees under Violence Prevention Southwest host and organize their own WEAAD event.

To check out pictures of the day’s event, follow us  on Facebook!

WHO agrees “Transgender not a disorder!”

As the calendar approaches the most colorful month of the year, Pride Month (June), the World Health Organization (WHO) finally got things right with notable changes to their global manual of diagnoses. According to BBC News, WHO now accepts that “Transgender health issues will no longer be classified as mental and behavioural disorders.”  Going forward, transgender health and issues of “gender incongruence” can be found under a chapter on sexual health.

While this announcement is considered to have a “liberating effect on transgender people worldwide,”  there is still caution that transgender is noted under sexual health, as if a choice to exercise.

According to BBC News countries have until 2022 to put changes in place.

Source cited: BBC News

IDAHOT: Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion

In a world where technology and advancement has enabled us to send an instant message to someone across the country; check out our own groceries or attend a wedding without leaving our own home, how can we be so behind in basic human rights?

How can so many countries and individuals not believe in the simple truth? LOVE IS LOVE! Regardless of gender identification, assigned sex, or sexual preference we ALL should have simple right to love freely and who we want.

Today, over 70 countries around the world still criminalize same-sex relationships. Many LGBTQ+ people continue to experience severe human rights abuses and persecution in their home countries. Often fleeing from their countries and homes in search of freedom and justice all in the name of love.

May 17th is recognized by many countries as International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. A day aimed to raise awareness globally of LBGTQ+ rights, while encouraging change and inclusion.

Joining the worldwide celebration, members of Bay St. George Coalition to End Violence joined the Western Pride committee at the Town of Stephenville Office on Friday afternoon as Major Tom Rose read and signed a proclamation declaring IDAHOT a day to be celebrated and recognized in the small community. Mayor Rose spoke with pride how he feels proud of his community and his council’s commitment to ensuring Stephenville is a community known for inclusion and acceptance.

BSGCEV Chair Bernice Hancock, thanked the three dozen individuals gathered for their continued dedication to enticing and encouraging acceptance and change. However, she also added, that “While we have come a long way, there is still so much more that needs to be done.”

Following the proclamation signing, the group gathered outside as the Pride Flag was lifted to fly outside the town office.

Violence Prevention Month: Spread the Kindness

Heart-filled chocolates and flowers are what comes to mind for most when one says February. But, for the Violence Prevention Southwest committee February brings images of pink Stand Up shirts, kind words and messages. Aptly named, the month of love is also Violence Prevention Month. Communities, schools and organizations are all encouraged to spread kindness to each other while promoting anti-bullying messages.

Local coordinating committees in Burgeo, Port aux Basques and Bay St. George host and support many events. Among these are municipality proclamation and flag-raising, Stand Up day in school, social media challenge, hot chocolate message campaigns, offering Violence Action Awareness Training and encouraging local residents and businesses to decorate their window fronts in pink. Whatever the event the message is the same…Spread the Kindness.

Although February has come and gone, the work for this organization continues for the next eleven months and each calendar year thereafter until the message is as expected and steady as the beat of each heart. Spread the Kindness every day, not just for 28 in February.

Check out our Facebook VPM photo album for pics of the many events, organizations, schools and individuals who have vowed to Stand Up against bullying and violence.

A Person! No Matter our Differences! Cultural Sensitivity Training

In partnership with the Bay St. George Coalition to End Violence, NAWN (Newfoundland Aboriginal Women’s Network, facilitated a one-day Cultural Sensitivity training to front-line service providers, post-secondary students, health and justice providers along with other governmental department and community organizations as part of the Violence Prevention Month activity and event line-up. 
Setting the pace for the day, participants enjoyed a traditional opening engaging in song, smudging and opening prayer. The morning’s agenda covered information on the indigenous heritage, a history of the oppression,  an awareness of the indigenous groups in our province and an overview of their history. During the afternoon, what was preconceived by the participants as a fun, interactive activity, soon turned emotional as, the Blanket Exercise, gave life to the challenges of the indigenous people and how they suffered at the hands of the “white” people and how resiliency is a huge part of their culture and proud heritage. 
Four narrators told the story of a once-happy people who were emotional and physically beat down, drove from their homelands, killed off by deadly infectious diseases and had their families torn apart as their children were “scooped” from them during the ‘Sixties Scoop.” For many, self-identified, indigenous people in the room, the interactive Blanket Exercise slowly gave an emotional indication of the plight and suffering of their ancestors.  As many tried to form their thoughts and feelings into words, raw emotions were evident. Words such as embarrassment, anger, heart-break and speechless were among those used to describe the feelings following the activity. 
Coming together in union, hand-in-hand the participants, following an emotional day, swayed and joined in song and prayer as the day’s training came to an end with many a promise to continue educating and advocating for respect for all people. As Kofi Annan said, “We may have different religions, different languages, different colors of skin, but we all belong to one human race.” 
Remember, during Violence Prevention Month, and every other month, be kind to each other; don’t judge until you have walked a mile in their shoes.
Another session will be held on Thursday, March 7, 2019. For more information contact 643-4563.



February is Violence Prevention Month

Members of BSG Coalition to End Violence, a local coordinating committee under Violence Prevention Southwest, gathered at the Stephenville Town Council on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019 to witness the proclamation of February being observed as Violence Prevention Month in Stephenville. A group of 32 youth, seniors, and various community organizations and government officials sat dressed in pink as Mayor Tom Rose charged each of us as responsible for ensuring the message for anti-violence moves forward with us as we go about our daily lives in ou

r respective communities.“We must make sure our voices are heard in society!”

Bernice Hancock, Chair, BSG Coalition to End Violence, thanked all for coming out. “We each have a role, every day let’s remember what we can do and help make our community, our schools and our workplaces violent-free.” Adding, she spoke to the students in the room. “You are the future generation that will help us end violence.” 

Janice Kennedy, Executive Director of the BSG Status of Women’s Council urged that “when someone says that something is not right, believe them! Take advantages of the resources in our community.” She spoke of the recent tragedy in Conne River and told how a red dress still hangs in the window of the Women’s Center in remembrance of all the missing and murdered indigenous women in our country.

Reading the proclamation, Mayor Rose added, “Violence does not just affect the individual but it moves outward with it’s ripple effect felt by many.”



Ecole Polytechnique Massacre Still Remembered 29 Years Later

“Twenty-nine years later, and we are still committed to keeping their memory alive” This was the sentiment spoken by Michelle Felix, Assistant to MP Gudie Hutchings in reflection of the massacre that happened on December 6, 1989 at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec. In her delivery of a letter sent by MP Gudie Hutchings, MP Hutchings pledged to continue working towards a future where “gender-based violence must not be tolerated in this country.”

December 6 is a day in Canadian history that is not remembered as a great one, or one that provokes happy thoughts. Instead it is filled with grief, heartache and sorrow. It is on this day 29 years ago that 14 women, strong, independent and intelligent, were targeted, shot down and killed simply because they were women.

During a candlelight vigil held at LA Bown in Stephenville on December 6, Bernice Hancock, co-chair of the BSG Status of Womens Council, recounted that fateful day’s events. 

“Marc Lépine, a lone gunman, ran through the hallways and entered a classroom on the first floor. He separated the men and the women and asked the men to leave the room. He shot the women. He then proceeded through the school, specifically targeting women. Within fifteen minutes, he had murdered 14 women and injured thirteen other students. He carried a note stating that he blamed women for all the problems in his life and in society as a whole.”

She recalled as a young mother of a son, how Lepine’s mother must be tormented and the sorrow she must have felt knowing that her child, her son, committed such a violent act then took his own life. Ms. Hancock spoke of her own commitment and vow to raise her son “to be a strong, caring, kind man who would see women as equal and respect them.”

Since 1989, the BSG Status of Womens Council, the College of the North Atlantic, in partnership with the BSG Coalition to End Violence invite community members and students to gather in memory and remembrance of these 14 young women and the hundreds of aboriginal women who are either missing, or murdered because of their gender and/or ethnicity.

Raw emotions were visible as the names of each of the 14 are read aloud with a description of their all-too-soon ended lives. Roses were laid in their honour and candles lit offering light to come from the darkness. 

Words of encouragement and hope were offered by Sharon Williston, Executive Director of the Newfoundland Aborginal Women’s Network.

“Take a look around here today. Many stay in unhealthy relationships because we don’t think we are worth it. We don’t hold value in our lives, but look around. These are people who care…care for you. If you need help. If you need to speak to someone, look around, these are people who can and will help you. You are not alone!”

Executive Director, Janice Kennedy brought words of empowerment and offered 14 acts of action that each individual can choose to do to help change this world in which gender-based violence is still apparent. 

Following the vigil, BSGSWC board member, and previous recipient, Brenda Dennis awarded the Stephanie Cormier Chassion Leadership award to 2nd year Community Studies student, Lenny Tiller for his outstanding leadership qualities and commitment to the college and the community at large. 

In concluding the event, Ms. Hancock invited everyone to remember today, to remember these women “and to go forward in this world and make it a better place.  Be the change you want to see in the world.”