Group aims to educate immigrants about family violence

Immigrant Women's Integration Network show families the resources available to report family violence

CBC News Posted: Nov 26, 2016 8:06 PM MT Last Updated: Nov 26, 2016 8:09 PM MT
When Chand Gul moved to Canada four years ago from Saudi Arabia, she found her newfound freedom almost intimidating.  
"I can go outside by myself, no problem with the security," she said. "But I have other issues.
"Most of the time, the women from the different cultures, they are staying at home. They are not allowed to go outside, or sometimes they have some fear or they don't have the courage or the confidence to show that they will go outside to explore the world."
She now works with the Immigrant Women's Integration Network trying to help make the transition easier for others, especially those who might be in vulnerable situations.
Chand Gul now works with the Immigrant Women’s Integration Network. 
To mark November as Family Violence Prevention Month in Alberta, the organization held its first-ever symposium on family violence on Saturday.
About 80 people attended Better Halves, Better Lives at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers to find out more about what resources are available.
There's a degree of stress that comes with a major cross-continent move — and while settling into a different country, people don't always know where to turn.
Tuval Nafshi of the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters said while most men aren't violent, most violence is perpetrated by men.
"The majority of men who are not violent have a huge opportunity in shifting the behaviour of the other men around them that are choosing violence as a tool, as an option," he said. "For too long, only women have been speaking out about violence, particularly violence against women and there's just a huge missed opportunity there.
"That's either through our silence as men, or actively supporting other men's violence."
A province-wide government survey indicates more than 50 per cent of Albertans think family violence occurs often in their communities, but most don't know what action to take.
The survey shows only 34 per cent know about a family-violence information line — and only 23 per cent know about a family-violence website.
Const. Anita Vallee said there are options available for those who feel more comfortable reporting a crime to someone of their culture. 
Const. Anita Vallee works with the Edmonton Police Service Senior Protection Partnership. She said the unit receives "a lot of calls" from immigrants, but they don't always want to come forward with their stories.
She said the police force has created a diversity unit to assist in, among other things, answering these types of calls more effectively.
"It's hard for some cultures to come forward and speak about family violence, whether it's elder abuse or spousal abuse," she said. "We really try to accommodate the public in saying, 'Hey, you know what? If you're not comfortable speaking to someone who's not of your culture, we'll make sure there's a way you can report this and we can assist you to make you feel more comfortable in doing it.'"