Montreal Massacre Remembered

Twenty-eight years after the horrific mass murder of 14 young women in Montreal, candlelight vigils continue to be held to remember the lives of the 14 female students shot down during class at Ecole Polytechniques on December 6, 1989.

During an emotional remembrance ceremony held at the BSG Campus of the College of the North Atlantic, Executive Director, Janice Kennedy offered somber statistics that indicate that violence against women, particularly in this province is continuing to rise. She went on to say that until we come together as a united front, she fears the numbers will continue to increase. “We need to start the conversation” she continued.

Representing and honouring the young women who lost their lives at the hands of one man who decided that their lives didn’t matter, were 14 Community Studies students who laid a rose 

and lit a candle as a symbol of the life that was. Each were remembered for who they were, not the manner in which they died.

Michelle Felix, Assistant to Member of Parliment Gudie Hutchings, brought greetings on Gudie’s behalf, saying that “Canada is committed to addressing gender-based violence.” She also confirmed that “living a violence-free life is a right.”

Each year at the Dec. 6 Vigil, a second year Community Studies student who portrays exceptional leadership qualities is awarded the Stephanie Cormier Chassion Leadership award in memory of a lady who excelled in this area, giving selflessly to her family, and her community. 

BSG Status of Women’s Council board director, Brenda Dennis announced Daryl Oakley as this year’s recipient. Brenda congratulated Daryl on being a leader in his community and to his peers. During her presentation Brenda spoke of how Daryl regards leaders as people who are passionate about wanting to help, and to get a job done through many things such as inspiration, passion, loyalty and motivation. Daryl says “that leadership is so important because people take on the personality of their leaders.”

Following the ceremony, those attending offered congratulations and socialized in the dining hall over refreshments.

Check out Facebook for more pics. 


International Day of Persons with Disabilities

To ensure equality for all, the Bay St. George Coalition to End Violence supported Brenda Dennis, Independent Living Intern with Empower as she hosted a Community Resource Fair in recognition of International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Dozens of community folk dropped by the Stephenville Lions Club on Friday afternoon, Dec. 1st to visit the many displays on hand. During one-to-one conversations many learned about the useful resources available in our community such as Mental Health & Addictions services. Having housing issues, Michelle Power, the Housing Support Worker with the Community Education Network was happy to offer assistance.

In addition to the displays and take-away information, several guest speakers educated the audience on many programs and services available, particularly to the aboriginal community and other minority groups. Rocky John from Conne River spoke on Jordan’s Principle; a program that offers financial assistance to families of children under the age of 19 who is requiring medical attention. Dr. Stewart McNeil and Jonathon Bennett, with the Tajike’k Center, encouraged all to become more in tune with their personal wellness journey.

Several presentations engaged the group in interactive, fun activities. Sharon Williston with the Melgignat Women’s Group had everyone on their feet playing a childhood favorite party game-Pass the Parcel, just one of the fun activities they enjoy during their elder and youth socials. Kim Kendell, Youth Outreach Worker, taught the group the advantages of being more mindful in our own lives. Encouraging everyone to slow down and to become more aware in the present moment.

Those who attended all agreed the afternoon was an informative, fun way to learn about some of the programs available to all in our community and surrounding areas; that equality and inclusion is not to be only recognized one day of the year, but every day.

Don’t forget to check out Facebook for more pictures.

November 20 A day for safety

November 20 is a day most known in Canada as National Child Day, but it is also an annual observance that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. Today let’s remember the innocence of children and pray for their safety as they grow, for acceptance in their true identity.


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!