Breaking the Silence together

Raising awareness about supports for victims of domestic violence

Wahbung Abinoonjiiag is working with Meet Me at the Bell Tower for a domestic violence awareness event on Nov. 9.

Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black

On Nov. 9, Wahbung Abinoonjiiag Inc. (Wahbung) and Meet Me at the Bell Tower (MM@BT) will work together to foster dialogue and awareness of domestic violence as part of Stop Domestic Violence Month.

Wahbung is an Indigenous-led community organization that provides a wide variety of supports for those who have been victims of domestic violence. There are supports for healing and community- building programs for women, youth and children; housing support; and many workshops that anyone can participate in.

Dana Arabe, Wahbung’s executive director says for this event, “we’re coming together. We’re walking to the Bell Tower, we’re coming to bring awareness and information to the community about Wahbung Abinoonjiiag, about the programs we provide and the supports that we have.”

MM@BT is an Indigenous-led, community-building event that happens every Friday at the North End Bell Tower. These events feature a wide variety of speakers and subjects, encourage relationship building and provide a space for community dialogue.

Jenna Wirch, one of the cofounders of MM@BT, says their goal is to stop cycles of violence through community building, because “stopping the violence isn’t just going out there and stopping a fight on the street. It’s a whole state of mind.”

Wirch says talking about domestic violence in a public event is “a way to create a safe space for it and make it not a taboo subject by being able to say ‘these are the dos and don’ts, and here are the red flags, and if you see yourself in a situation where there is domestic violence, these are the resources you can go to.’”

Public education around domestic violence means “having a voice around domestic violence and acknowledging all of our traumas and all of our pasts, but then acknowledging that we’re moving forward in a healthy and good way,” Arabe says. “It’s allowing women and children and youth to find their voices and end the cycle of violence and then also find their voices for empowerment.”

Arabe says public community events are important places for people who may need Wahbung’s supports to find their voice and feel comfortable seeking help.

She says all of Wahbung’s events are participant-led, which means “our community, our women, our youth are putting on the events and are speaking at them,” and are run through an Indigenous lens. Arabe and Wirch both say these voices need to be central to dialogue around domestic violence.

“It’s important for Indigenous women to lead this conversation, because domestic violence and violence is perpetrated against us at a higher rate than anyone else,” Wirch says.

For Stop Domestic Violence Month, Wahbung will also run a domestic violence training session for service providers on Nov. 16 and a self-care day on Nov. 21.

The Break the Silence Bell Tower takes place on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. by the North End Bell Tower. All are welcome to attend.

Published in Volume 73, Number 9 of The Uniter (November 8, 2018)

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