New Circles of Care Program to Support Women and Children Experiencing Violence

October 30th, 2017, Thunder Bay, ON – Today, Beendigen launched a new program in Thunder Bay, to support women that have experienced violence, and provides assistance in navigating the child welfare system. With several community partners in attendance, Beendigen introduced the Circles of Care program that will be offered out of its South Syndicate site. With an understanding of the unique needs of Indigenous women, the program takes a culturally rooted and holistic approach.

“Women are sharing with us and saying they need more support. We know mothers who experience violence face enormous pressures to protect themselves and their children, and that children of abused women often become involved in the child welfare system. This is unknown territory for most mothers and can be a very scary situation. With very little material and social support to help them through this very challenging time, many don’t feel understood, safe or even protected;” says Beendigen Executive Director, Debra Vermette. “The Circles of Care program is designed with a focus on crisis management and mitigating the effects of violence. Supporting mothers, protects children; Meeting women’s needs better protects women and children.”

The Circles of Care program provides services by creating circles of care to meet cultural, mental, physical and spiritual needs. Through the program, family support workers can advocate on behalf of women and their families, assist with planning and goal setting, liaise with service providers, provide conflict resolution and provide awareness and education.

“Some of the most intrusive interactions for women occur in the child welfare system. Women have reported that they don’t feel heard or understood and they live in fear with the threat of having their children removed. One of the most important roles we can play to help mothers cope, is to provide education and advocacy,” says Beendigen Circles of Care Program Family Support Worker, Royleen Dupuis. “The Circles of Care program ensures women feel respected and comfortable, by providing a safe environment with an understanding of the circumstances of women’s lives, including violence.”

Community partners are encouraged to refer clients to the Circles of Care program. For additional information, contact Beendigen: (807) 700-7470 or The Circles of Care program is funded by the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA).

“Access to meaningful social support is absolutely essential for women and children’s safety. Without these supports, women will continue to return to abusive relationships where they will not be safe,” continues Vermette.

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