Provincial conference aims to end domestic violence

The Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan has an important message: Violence is everyone’s business.                       

Katherine Hill, Video Journalist @KatherineCTV
Published Tuesday, May 17, 2016 4:40PM CST

The group is spreading that message at its annual conference held in Regina this year on May 17 and 18.

Marlene Borthwick traveled from Moose Jaw to attend. She said her passion for helping others inspired her decision to work at the Moose Jaw Transition House.

“I’ve always had that love to try and help the women and the children,” she said.

The conference has attracted crisis workers from throughout Saskatchewan. Attendance was also open to members of the public who want to find out more about ending domestic violence.

“We’re hoping they can take the message of the various aspects of gender-based violence back to their place of work and help create change in the province as a whole,” said PATHS provincial coordinator Jo-Anne Dusal.

When it comes to violence against women, Saskatchewan holds a dubious distinction.

“We do have the unfortunate distinction of having the highest rates of intimate partner violence, intimate partner homicide and sexual assault per capita among the Canadian provinces,” Dusal said. “What PATHS hopes to accomplish is to influence some public policy changes so that we can be more like other provinces.”

Changes in policy in Ontario and British Columbia have led to a drop in rates of domestic violence within those provinces.

“We believe that there’s lots of things that can be done from a government perspective that can help bring that unfortunate statistic down,” said Dusal.

The PATHS Conference attracted Cherry Smiley, who travels across Canada speaking about prostitution as a form of violence against women.

“Prostitution and pornography has become so normalized in our culture that we just kind of take it for granted,” Smiley said.

And she shares a common goal with everyone at the conference.

“I’m really looking to find solutions to ending the violence.”