Giving season opening day

November 29th will be the 10th anniversary of Giving Tuesday. Initially created as a response tp (or perhaps a pushback from) Cyber Monday, when people are encouraged to get serious about their festive season shopping by taking advantage of online sales and specials, Giving Tuesday has grown into what it describes as “the world’s largest generosity movement.”

More than 80 countries now participate in encouraging individuals and organizations to share their time and/or money with others in their community or beyond. Last year, more than $43 million was donated in Canada during this 24-hour period.

The annual spending frenzy that calls itself Christmas is about to be upon us, and Giving Tuesday could be seen as its opening day.

I want you to consider making Luke’s Place the recipient of your generosity on November 29th this year. As many of you already know, Luke’s Place works to improve the family law experiences of women leaving relationships in which they have been subjected to abuse. We do this by providing direct services to women and by working at the systemic level, conducting research, developing and delivering training and engaging in system-change advocacy.

Making it better for women

Our direct service work means that fewer women face the family court system alone and more have a better understanding of their rights, the court process and their legal issues. Legal Support Workers make sure women are well informed so they can plan and prepare for their case. They assist women develop positive working relationships with their lawyer, should they have one. Women who don’t have lawyers – which is the case for most of our clients – are provided with guidance and information to help them manage without one.

We know all of this leads to better and safer outcomes for women and their children. Equally important, our work assists women regain their autonomy and feel empowered in their lives; something that has been stripped away from many of them by their former partner.

Our systemic work supports important changes to laws and policies that affect women who have survived intimate partner violence. Over the years, working collaboratively with other feminist organizations, many of our efforts have been successful: we helped to reform restraining order legislation so women are safer, to change family laws so courts are required to consider family violence when making decisions about post-separation parenting arrangements, to increase access to legal aid coverage for women fleeing abuse, and more. Our training work has increased the understanding of family violence for family law lawyers, Legal Aid Ontario staff, police, and many others who work with families where IPV is present.

Inquest recommendations

Right now, our advocacy work is focused on supporting implementation of the Renfrew County inquest recommendations. We’re not alone in this: lots of shelters, community-based violence against women coordinating committees and individuals are calling for implementation of the recommendations. Many of us are doing much of this work off the side of our desks, in minutes we can grab during the day, on Saturday mornings or late evenings when we are not occupied by our daytime responsibilities. Certainly, it wasn’t in my workplan for the fall, and we don’t have a budget line that says “Renfrew County inquest recommendation advocacy.” But, we have lots of passion, and working collaboratively with others who are similarly committed and under-resourced reminds us that our collective power can make a difference.

As November 25th — the start of 16 days of activism to end gender-based violence — draws closer, we are increasing our advocacy efforts. We continue to add new resources to our advocacy toolkit: if you look at the toolkit this week, you’ll see a template for writing an op ed as well as infographics for a number of the recommendations.

You don’t have to be an expert on intimate partner abuse to get involved with this work. Find out what the VAW organization in your community is doing for the 16 days of activism and join their efforts. Consider using our template op ed to write something for your local newspaper or other media. Send a letter to your MPP or other decision-makers, using the templates in our toolkit, urging them to support implementation of key recommendations during the 16 days of activism. Share one recommendation infographic a day on social media. Talk about the recommendations at work, school or to your family, friends or neighbours.

Money helps too!

We’re happy to take your money, too, as are the violence against women organizations in your community. Please consider joining Giving Tuesday on November 29th and make a donation to Luke’s Place or another community-based organization that supports survivors of intimate partner violence. Whether the money is used to provide direct services to women and their children or to support advocacy efforts, every penny of it will help move us towards a world where violence against women and children is only a memory.

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