By Laura Stovel
April 18 to 24 is national Prevention of Violence against Women Week. To recognize the week and raise public awareness, the Revelstoke Women’s shelter is organizing a community walk on Tuesday, April 19. Walkers will meet at Queen Elizabeth Park near BegbieView Elementary School at 11:30 am. They will walk down Mackenzie Avenue to First Street, walk west to the Grizzly Sports Bar and end at the 7-11.
The 7-11 will donate a free small beverage – a slurpy, coffee or soft drink – to walk participants. The Women’s Shelter will provide a free lunch to school children who join the walk. The 7-11 will also accept cash donations for the shelter all week.
Revelstoke Women’s Shelter’s Team Leader and Acting Executive Director Lynn Loeppky encourages everyone to attend: men, women, children and youth. It’s important that youth are involved because education needs to begin at a young age. “We need to educate our youth around violence in relationships so that we can end cycles of violence,” she said. Also, when men join the walk it “sends a message that violence against women isn’t ok.”
Violence against women is not just something that happens elsewhere. It is also an issue in Revelstoke, Loeppky said. Between March 2015 and March 2016 the shelter had 1,260 bed nights in our transition house and that was women and children coming through as victims of violence. We are consistently getting higher, not lower.”
“For every woman and child who comes into the transition house, whether they return to their relationship or whether they move forward, I think we plant seeds, in one way or another,” she said.
Loeppky, who has worked at the transition house for eight years, does not see specific trends in violence against women in Revelstoke except that “elder abuse is a little more known. There are some older ladies coming through the shelters.” Increased awareness about elder abuse is largely due to the efforts of the Community Response Network which was initiated and continues to be hosted by the Women’s Shelter.
While this week focuses on violence against women, Loeppky acknowledges that violence “touches everyone. Men can be abused; children can be abused; women can be abused.”
“Revelstoke as a whole has been very supportive” of the Women’s Shelter, Loeppky said. “We get a lot of donations from businesses. We get community-wide support and we have people who are just doing their own fundraisers.”
The Revelstoke Grizzlies recently chose to donate to the Women’s Shelter. “That was important because it was a group of young men who chose to donate money to the Women’s Shelter, who thought it was worthwhile. They raised a little over $1,100 for the shelter.”
One upcoming fundraiser is the Revelstoke Mega Spring-Clean Women’s Swap on Saturday, May 14, at the Community Centre. The Clothing Swap is organized by Lexie Ast, who moved to Revelstoke less than two years ago. Ast wanted to organize a clothing swap and decided to raise money for the Women’s Shelter at the same time. “Revelstoke is a very close community and there is lots of fundraising,” she said, “but I hadn’t noticed any for the Women’s Shelter.” She therefore decided to make that her cause. For more information go to the event’s Facebook page.