As we increasingly welcome more newcomers to Canada, we at Ernestine’s see the need to care for families who require specialized support systems to help them find safety. Violence against women is a huge problem in Canada, and across the world, and sadly, women and children who experience compounded forms of oppression, like racism, ageism, and classism, are even more vulnerable to violence. That’s how women and children who have precarious citizenship can often experience violence, because their abusers are often their immigration sponsors, and take advantage of this dependency. The abuser’s threat to cut that sponsorship is used to control and isolate women, and when you’re a newcomer who may not speak English or have ties to family or community who can help, your safety and health are in incredible danger.
At Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter, we offer safe shelter for these families, and they often stay with us for periods of more than a year, because the complexity of issues faced by these families is staggering. That’s why we introduced the Settlement Program last year, as part of our Housing and Legal Program.