Women’s Initiatives For Safer Environments - Initiatives des Femmes pour la Sécurité Environnementale

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Blog Posts

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November 2019 - ByWard Market Safety

ByWard Market Safety

By: Chloe Watt, WISE Chair

The ByWard Market has many attractions for all ages both during the day and at night. During the day, you’ll see the busy hustle and bustle of a vibrant market with many independent stores and restaurants, and tourists exploring our beautiful city. When the sun goes down, the nightlife comes alive and often, you’ll be able to see buskers performing during the summer or some interesting night life. The general sense of comfort however seems to fall as the night progresses largely due to the recent increase in violent crimes in the area. We should not live in fear or feel uncomfortable going out with our friends but we should always remain vigilant.

As someone who has worked in the ByWard Market for a long time, I have often been asked if anything has happened or if I feel safe walking back to my car late at night. I’ve been lucky so far and aside from a few scares, nothing serious has happened to me. Do I feel comfortable? No, not always, but there are a number of things that we can do to keep our community safer for all:

  • Report unsafe areas to WISE to conduct a community safety audit and/or let your city councillor know. Take photos or videos of the area.
  • Let someone know when you’re leaving and when you’ll be back: I always let someone know when I’m leaving and when I get back. We send so many text messages in a given day but this one could make a huge difference in determining that there is a problem if I don’t check in.
  • Walk with friends or a co-worker if possible: It’s always safer to travel in groups so when this is an option I always take it. Going into the garage we will walk to one car and then drive to the other person’s car.
  • Is it an emergency? Call 9-1-1-. If not, think twice before involving the police: Did you know that police are called in more instances where there are racialized or Indigenous people involved when no police are actually necessary? In some cases, police presence aggravates situations of distress and conflict. If you see a crime, you can report it online at www.ottawapolice.ca/onlinereporting, by calling the non-emergency number at 613-236-1222, ext. 7300.
  • Trust your feelings: if I feel like something is off I don’t just brush it off. I will either pick another route or reassess if I should find another way of getting home like calling a friend or a taxi service.

Many community initiatives are working towards keeping us safer in the Market but we all have a role to play starting with practicing community safety and not turning away when we see a problem.

Learn more about WISE can support you and your community safety needs. Email us at info@wiseottawa.ca or give us a call at 613-230-6700.

 

 

August 2019 - Immigrant women facing intimate partner violence: A view from the frontline

Immigrant Women Facing Intimate Partner Violence: A view from the frontline

By: Kewei Xiao, WISE Board Member

Intimate partner violence exists in every country and community. However, education programs and prevention strategies for violence against women (VAW) can vary. Some countries, like Canada, place emphasis on this pervasive issue while others tolerate or ignore the problem. Culture has a great impact on how women are perceived and respected. 

As a law enforcement officer, I deal with intimate partner violence disputes on a nearly daily basis; ranging from verbal arguments to physical assault causing bodily harm. On the frontline, I hear first-hand the stories and am able to help women who are suffering from physical and psychological abuse in their relationships. In many cases, women are isolated from their friends and families. In other cases, women are unable to leave abusive relationships because they are newcomers to Canada without any support to rely on. Intimate partner violence can have a huge impact on children who witness it on an ongoing basis. The abuse can lead to serious physical injury to women and can be fatal. Yet, the number of reported domestic violence incidents does not accurately reflect reality. Why is that? 

From my experience, there seems to be a number of reasons why women, women who have immigrated to Canada in particular, are less willing to report instances of abuse:

Women are fearful that they may lose their immigration status. Often they are dependent on their partner who may be earning their household income. Fears of being deported are always a strong motivator to remain silent.

Women may not have the training or experience to enter the workforce when they first arrive. This further increases dependency on their partner.

Women are fearful of losing financial support. Laying complaints against an abuser can leave them vulnerable, often isolate them from their cultural community and leave them with no means of support. 

Mistrust of the police because of previous experiences and interactions with them either here or abroad.

Community or cultural norms often create huge pressure on women which discourages them from airing issues frowned upon by ethnic community leaders. 

As more and more immigrant families arrive in Canada, it is imperative that we provide more education and prevention programs that can help break down such barriers for immigrant women and create support systems for when they choose to leave an abusive situation. We need to do more to support these women until the violence stops.

At WISE, not only do we offer our Personal Safety Workshops to everyone in the city of Ottawa, including immigrant women, but we also offer a Legal Education Workshop to help all women know what their rights are here in Canada. If these workshops are of interest to you or to your community, or you simply want some more information, send us an e-mail at info@wiseottawa.ca.