City set to host women’s shelter event
Posted By Geoff Dembicki (Examiner staff)
Hundreds of delegates from countries as far flung as Pakistan and Nigeria will be descending on Edmonton for an eagerly anticipated conference on women’s shelters that organizers say is a milestone in the fight against family violence.
Running Sept. 8 to 11 at the Shaw Conference Centre, the First World Conference of Women’s Shelters will bring together social workers from across the globe to discuss strategies to end domestic abuse and share stories from the front lines.
The inaugural event has generated so much buzz in the social work community that organizers are facing a deluge of last minute callers eager to find room in a convention already packed to the brim.
“We’re sitting here in a sold out position, and people are still phoning to ask if they can come,” says Patti McClocklin, spokesperson for the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, the locally-based non-profit group hosting the event.
“They want to come so badly.”
Over the course of four days, participants will attend a series of workshops on such issues as human trafficking and prostitution and the best practices for shelters with limited means.
They’ll also get a chance to hear from Arun Ghandi, grandson of the revered preacher of nonviolence, along with several other prominent speakers.
Event co-ordinator Kimberley Stewart says Edmonton was chosen to host the event because of Alberta’s worldwide reputation for developing innovative strategies to combat spousal abuse.
“As a whole, we’re pretty forward thinking about domestic violence,” she says.
One example is the ACWS-sponsored Breakfast with the Boys, an annual outreach event where local men gather to talk about abuse in their communities and brainstorm male leadership solutions.
Innovation notwithstanding, McClocklin says Alberta shelters field nearly 100,000 calls every year.
And in Edmonton – and across the country – low-paid aid workers often work double shifts to provide essential care to battered and abused women who have no other recourse against abusive spouses.
“Our shelters are always full,” says McClocklin.
“There are more women and children who phone than can be accommodated.”
But events such as the upcoming conference give her faith for the future.
“I would like to hope that one day it will change.”
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