All of us at Second Story Women’s Centre (SSWC) are devastated by the horrific events in Nova Scotia on April 18/19 that left 22 innocent people dead. Our hearts go out to all of those affected and struggling to cope. We are angered by the continued increase in domestic and intimate partner violence we have seen since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and the ensuing isolation. Our vision of ‘gender equity and safe healthy relationships on the South Shore’, has once again been tested by these tragedies. The problem however as we all know, is bigger than these isolated incidents, and in their wake we are left questioning: where are we failing as a community and a society?
We know that our communities and the individuals within them need more support. For over 35 years in Lunenburg and Queens Counties, SSWC has been supporting women, girls and gender-oppressed people as they navigate challenges in their lives. We offer trauma-informed support in safer spaces. Our work and recent events continue to highlight the need for interventions and support to begin earlier. We believe happy, supported, and mentally healthy children have better opportunities for resilience and to grow into kind, caring, contributing members of society.
We are concerned that our youth are being raised in a society that regularly dismisses violence, narcissism, sexism, racism, and stereotypical attitudes toward gender. These views may affect how we behave as individuals or groups of people and ultimately what we come to expect from ourselves and others. The murderous incidents that have taken place in our province over the last several weeks (1 domestic homicide in HRM and 22 in Colchester County) demonstrate once again what can happen when gendered violence goes unchecked and when we succumb to stereotypical notions of gender that society continues to teach and model.
What are we at Second Story Women’s Centre doing to combat these issues? We provide programming and support for youth. Our Girl Talk, Express Yourself and Girls’ Loft programs counter stereotypical narratives of what it means to identity as female. We support and administer the Healthy Relationships for Youth program in South Shore high schools. This peer-led, violence prevention program addresses underlying issues of sexism, racism, stereotypes, homophobia, power and violence. Just as social distancing measures of COVID-19 were implemented, we were on the cusp of implementing our first ever boys-only program. The goal of this camp was to counter narratives of what it means to identify as male, break down negative and harmful gender stereotypes, emphasize self-appreciation and healthy emotional expression, and encourage mental health support: it’s ok to ask for help when we are struggling.
A hope for our community is that we:
We are living in unprecedented times and have been given an opportunity to pause, step back and take a look at what influences our beliefs and actions. As a community we can change direction for the better.
Please feel free to reach out to us at Second Story Women’s Centre. Please check out our website for more information and to sign up for our newsletter. We are here for you and we continue to offer support virtually during this time that our office is closed to visitors.
Please contact us at:
E – info@SecondStory.ca P – 902-640-3044 FB - @secstory