Recognizing that Canada is highly regarded around the world for the quality of life it offers, you may find it surprising to know that according to Statistics Canada, in 2010 there were almost 99,000 victims of family violence across the nation, accounting for 25 per cent of all victims of violent crime.
Fortunately, there are a number of organizations throughout the Greater Toronto Area that make it their mission to provide safety, shelter and support to women and children fleeing abuse. One such facility, which Greater Toronto REALTORS® support through the Ontario REALTORS Care® Foundation, is Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter.
Established in 1983 by a group of people who identified a need for such services in the community, Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter has supported more than 5,000 families with immediate, critical care services. Offering a crisis line, shelter services, and transitional and outreach programs, it strives to help women rebuild their lives. These services are vitally important, not just to the victims of abuse, but to all Canadians, since according to the organization, health related costs of violence against women in Canada exceed $1.5 billion a year. Equally staggering is the fact that in Canada, between one and two women are murdered every week by a former or current partner.
Organizations like Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter, however, are making a difference. Executive Director Jill Cunningham points to the story of one client who, as result of the support she received from Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter, went on to complete her education, find affordable housing and daycare and establish a successful company.
“Women and children that stay at Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter learn that the violence and abuse is not their fault, they’re not alone and that they can live independently,” says Cunningham.
In order to foster more success stories, Greater Toronto REALTORS® has offered a grant to Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter that will allow the organization to provide family start-up kits to women and children leaving the shelter or escaping an abusive relationship. Each kit consists of the basics required for beginning again, along with some financial relief. Having been proud supporters of Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter since 2008, Greater Toronto REALTORS® are very pleased to be able to make this contribution to the start-up kits, support that Cunningham says is crucial.
“Most women who come to the shelter come with only the clothes on their back so it’s really important; also the government has recently made cuts in the area of helping out with community start ups so the support is more important than ever.”To learn about opportunities to support this very worth organization, visit www.Ernestines.ca, and if someone you know needs support in fleeing an abusive relationship, please urge them to call the Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 1-866-863-0511. For more information about the many ways Greater Toronto REALTORS® make a difference to quality of life in our city, please visit www.TorontoRealEstateBoard.com