Thunder Bay, ON, November 6, 2018 – Beendigen Anishinabe Women’s Crisis Home & Family Healing Agency has been providing healing and hope for women in Thunder Bay for the last four decades. Today, the organization is celebrating its official 40th Dinishkaa in the community, an Ojibway word, meaning anniversary.
To honour the milestone, hundreds of community members, organizations and partners gathered for a celebration at its Victoriaville site to recognize the achievements and the people that have helped add to the success and evolution of Beendigen since established in 1978.
“Beendigen has experienced tremendous growth over the last four decades and has really evolved to adapt to the needs of women and children to support them to live their lives free of violence but to also build leadership skills so women can become leaders of their families and community. Programming not only responds to women and children’s immediate needs but also ensures they can work toward a healthy and happier lifestyle,” says Beendigen Executive Director, Debra Vermette.
Beendigen provides programing and services to assist families and women who are in a crisis. Through cultural values and traditions, the organization supports the healing process with an integrated approach to improve resources for mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional wellbeing. To date, twelve programs are offered through one of four Beendigen sites located in Thunder Bay.
“Over the past year alone, Beendigen has expanded, offering new site locations, launched the Talk4Healing Indigenous women’s helpline provincially, and unveiled new text and chat technology that will increase the ability to provide support and services across Ontario. Beendigen also introduced a new Anti-Human Trafficking program and Circles of Care program,” continues Vermette.
In the last forty years, Beendigen has supported thousands of women and children. Since 2018, 7, 550 women were assisted by its services and programming, with almost one-third of those women walking through the doors of Beendigen’s Crisis Home, while more than 1,500 children received support, which included safety and shelter, and child witness programming.
“Looking to the future, it has been identified that services for men are just as important to families on their healing journey. In 2019, Beendigen will begin to offer more support and programming for entire families, which includes men and specifically, dads. Current studies suggest that over half of men who abuse women say that a family member has abused them. Men need to get involved in order to stop the cycle of abuse,” says Beendigen Program Manager, Katie Bortolin.
As a part of the Dinishkaa, Beendigen will be hosting bannock and tea presentations at various organizations throughout the community. A special women’s healing tea was created with International House of Tea to commemorate the event. An anniversary quilt will also be on display at City Hall throughout the month of November that was crafted by Beendigen staff. The 20 hand-stitched squares represent the history of the organization.