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ACWS launch "You Are Not Alone" campaign

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The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) has announced a public awareness campaign aimed towards newcomer and refugee women experiencing domestic violence.

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The ACWS represents 40 emergency and second-stage sheltering organizations for women and children fleeing violence and abuse and provides professional development and training, action-based research and increases public awareness of issues related to family violence for the benefit of abused women and their children.

The area non-profit is launching a multi-lingual awareness campaign that aims to reach women with an important message: “You are not alone.” The province-wide campaign seeks to connect with newcomer and refugee women who may be experiencing violence by sharing ACWS’s toll-free 24/7 shelter hotline and website information. Posters and videos feature the message in 5 languages: Arabic, Punjabi, Tagalog, Urdu, and English.

The campaign is a response to the additional barriers that newcomer and refugee women often face when they are experiencing violence in their trusted relationships. These challenges can include language or cultural barriers, uncertain or precarious immigration status, isolation, fear of repercussions of disclosure, limited or lack of access to finances and lack of knowledge of their rights and available services. These obstacles may prevent women from accessing the help that is available.

In addition to culturally sensitive supports, ACWS’s member shelters have access to CanTalk translation services to assist clients with a first language other than English. Zainab Khan, Project Manager with the Canadian Pakistani Support Group which operates Maskan, a shelter in Calgary, explains, “Imagine having to deal with all the things women fleeing violence have to deal with – lack of affordable housing, expensive childcare, being fearful for your life at home, etc. And then add to that the systemic racism experienced by visible minorities, having communications barriers, facing heightened cultural and spiritual pressures to preserve the marriage at all costs, not having established networks of friends yet, the list goes on.”

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The You Are Not Alone campaign arose from a tri-provincial collaboration between ACWS, PATHS in Saskatchewan, and the BC Society of Transition Houses, who ran a similar campaign in British Columbia and shared their resources with ACWS and PATHS to be adapted for use in Alberta. The BC iteration of the campaign received the BCAB (British Columbia Association of Broadcasters) Humanitarian Award in 2018.

The ACWS campaign is partially funded by the Prairie Action Foundation.

Jan Reimer, the Executive Director of ACWS, said: “Shelters are safe refuges for women and children of all cultural backgrounds. Shelter staff around the province are continually educating themselves about the unique experiences of families new to Canada and work hard to adapt their services to meet women’s needs. With this campaign, we want newcomer Albertans in particular to know that they are not alone and that shelters in Alberta welcome them.”

The You Are Not Alone campaign includes posters in transit spaces, social media advertisements, as well as video and audio Public Service Announcements broadcast on TV and radio stations.

jhamilton@postmedia.com

twitter.com/journo_jenn

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