In light of recent sexual assaults, increasing violence against women and cuts to social services that have left women wondering where to turn for help, Stephanie Gordon said the Parkdale Anti Violence Education (PAVE) working group is stepping up efforts to get information into the hands of the people who need it.
Gordon, community outreach coordinator at The Redwood Shelter for women and children leaving an abusive situation, is one of the organizers of PAVE’s annual Dec. 6 Community Educational Forum in Parkdale.
Dec. 6 is the anniversary of the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique Massacre where 14 women were murdered at the university and The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day.
A robust program of speakers and presentations is planned to attract more participants to the sixth annual forum which will be held at the Masaryk Cowan Community Recreation Centre, 220 Cowan Ave., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“The event is open to both men and woman because we want to talk about Dec. 6, what happened and what the significance of it is,” she said. “But we also want to bring it back to the current situation and what is going on in our community, looking at the sexual assaults that have happened over the last couple of months and the different forms of violence that are impacting women and, to a certain respect, men in the community.”
The forum will take a look at bullying with a workshop touching on strategies for parents to deal with bullying and the steps they can take when a child is being bullied.
“We think this is important since there are a lot of newcomer women who may not be familiar with the system and who they can go speak to,” Gordon said.
The Toronto Rape Crisis Centre will give a presentation on sexual assault and a representative from the White Ribbon Campaign will be speaking about what men can do around the issue of violence.
Gordon will give a presentation on how to access shelter services when you are experiencing violence.
The Native Women’s Resource Centre will give a talk and spoken word performance about violence against native women.
A new community organization started this past summer, the Parkdale Women’s Advocacy Group, will give a presentation about the support group and what women can expect to gain by being a part of it.
“It brings women together to teach them leadership skills and ways they can advocate around issues that impact women and children,” Gordon said.
PAVE pulls together community organizations including Parkdale Legal, Parkdale Community Health, Parkdale Community Information Centre, Creating Together Family Resource Centre, St. Christopher House, Parkdale Intercultural Association and the Parkdale Community Response Network.
The event is free to attend, however community organizations can purchase a table to display their materials and resources for $25, which goes back into the event to help offset the cost hosting the event.