Building a Bigger Wave (BBW) is partnering with the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH) to engage communities on: WE COUNT FEMICIDE BECAUSE... to raise a public alarm about femicide in Ontario. We want to draw attention to the critical need for investments in prevention and to engage leaders in communities and at all levels of government in dialogue about how we must work collectively to prevent the future deaths.
We hope to engage all VAWCCs in the actions. Supporting materials have been developed to make it as easy as possible to participate in a consistent process and messaging that we will continue to develop together as we learn and evolve. If your community does not have a VAWCC or a Coordinator, contact us to talk about how your community can participate.
COVID-19 has taken a real toll on people. For those who work in the GBV field – the vicarious trauma of violence is an everyday part of the job. We do not know the impact on others when we start to amplify femicides on a regular basis. It is important to be trauma-and violence-informed in our actions to not cause harm. Remember that we are asking people to stop and feel the loss of every life. For this reason, we want to be cautious and thoughtful about our messaging. This is not a campaign to shame and blame.
Instead, we are seeking to educate and engage people in all parts of the system, including politicians and bureaucrats, to help us shift collectively toward prevention. It is in everyone’s interests to address gender-based violence in all its forms and to respond as early as possible to warning signs.
To this end, we are looking for new investments in prevention from all levels of government and for ongoing support for public education while we work to raise public awareness.
As communities, we can coordinate our actions more effectively once violence has occurred. Despite the erosion of the social safety net for many years now, local relationships between individuals and organizations, and the combined expertise in the field, are real strengths to build on. VAWCCs have a unique role to play in community coordination as the only multi-sector table with a GBV focus. We can learn to manage and reduce risk as a community, with accountability mechanisms and mutual support for the different roles and responsibilities of each member agency. Recommendations from the Renfrew Inquest and the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee can help guide our efforts. Many VAWCCs report struggling in recent years with finding a sense of purpose. We Count Femicide Because… has potential to help renew direction and commitment to building up responsive community coordination.
The materials are provided as Word documents to allow for customization of local information and adding logos. As much as possible we want to keep the messaging consistent and to develop a coherent provincial process… while also allowing for unique local content. We expect the process and materials to evolve over the next year as we use the tools and learn how to coordinate our efforts. We Count Femicides Because… will be a standing item at the monthly meeting of the BBW Coordinator network to discuss and share what is happening so that we can refine as we go and continue to develop tools.
Note: Coordinators are asked not to distribute the package. From time to time, we will need to update the materials and it will be difficult to do that if the package is distributed beyond the coordinator list. When sharing the letter template with committee members – watermark it with ‘draft’.
VAWCCS that wish to participate can contact BBW to receive the package of materials and to join the distribution list.
Femicide is described as the intentional killing of women, children and other gender-diverse individuals, by men. Women and girls who are Indigenous, Black, 2SLGBTQ+ and those with disabilities are at an increased risk and experience disproportionate levels of gender-based violence.
On November 25th OAITH publishes the Annual Femicide List. The numbers should be considered conservative as the information comes solely from media reports. The numbers can change as more information becomes available.