Traumatic Brain Injury and IPV: Challenges for Survivors in Family Court - April 3
Survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) commonly sustain physical injuries to the head, neck, and face. As a result of increased trauma to these areas, survivors are at a greater risk of experiencing brain injuries and can face challenges when accessing, navigating, and participating in the family court system. This webinar focuses on the intersection of IPV and brain injury, and the subsequent challenges these injuries present for survivors in the family court system including issues surrounding participation in the court process, establishing causal evidence of IPV-related brain injury, and the absence of trauma-informed legal practices. This event will take place online on Monday, April 3 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CST. Click here to register.
STOPS to Violence Calendar of Events
There are many opportunities to learn more about capacity and/or community building related to violence prevention here in Saskatchewan.
Every Child Matters
The recent discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children in an undocumented mass gravesite at the Kamloops Indian Residential School is a devastating and painful reminder of the colonial policies that continue to impact the lives of Indigenous Peoples. Our thoughts are with these children, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, residential school survivors, and all who mourn these children and others yet to be found. We call on the Government of Canada, our provincial governments, and Churches to recognize the genocide inflicted on Indigenous Peoples and address the harms done. We honour the lives of those children. Our thoughts and hearts are with their families and loved ones.
During this difficult time, the following community-based supports are available:
- The Indian Residential School Survivors Society at 1-800-721-0066 along with a 24-hour crisis line at 1-866-925-4419 for those who need immediate support.
- The KUU-US Crisis Line Society provides an Indigenous-specific crisis line available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's toll-free and can be reached at 1-800-588-8717.
- The First Nations Health Authority offers support specifically for survivors and families who have been directly impacted by the Indian Residential School system.
Stories from RESOLVE
Three RESOLVE SK projects were presented at this year’s PATHS Conference, “Regrouping and Recharging: Gathering to Create Sustainable Change."
At the PATHS 2022 Conference, Jo-Anne Dusel was recognized for her dedication to creating communities safe from violence and abuse.
RESOLVE SK is proud to welcome Dr. Jorden Cummings (they/she) as our new Director! Dr. Cummings is a Professor in the Department of Psychology & Health Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Please join us in celebrating her new role in the RESOLVE network!
The Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol Act (Clare’s Law)
by Jo-Anne Dusel & Crystal Giesbrecht, Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS)
The Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol Act, better known as Clare’s Law, is provincial legislation that came into force in Saskatchewan on June 29, 2020. Saskatchewan is the first province in Canada to enact Clare’s Law, though other jurisdictions such as Alberta and Newfoundland are also in the process of developing similar legislation. The Act itself is accompanied by the Interpersonal Violence Disclosure (Clare’s Law) Regulations and the Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol. The legislation is designed to facilitate the disclosure of risk information in order to prevent future victimization by legally authorizing police to disclose information to current or potential intimate partners for the purpose of informing and protecting individuals who are at risk.
The Protocol is based on the UK model but has been adapted to fit the needs in Saskatchewan. The Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS) worked on this protocol alongside the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Corrections and Policing.
Clare’s Law was first established in the United Kingdom in 2014. It is named after Clare Wood, a woman who was murdered by a former partner. Police were aware that he had a record of violence, but that information was never disclosed to Clare, despite her seeking help from police for stalking and harassment from the man who would later brutally murder her. After her death, Clare’s father advocated for this legislation in the UK, firmly believing that if Clare had known about her partner’s history of violence towards women, she would have made different choices and still be alive today.
Clare’s Law is proactive, not reactive. It gives a potential victim an informed choice—before violence happens. This legislation is not designed for individuals in already in established relationships where abuse is occurring, as they already know they are at risk. Rather, it serves to interrupt the impact of serial domestic abusers by informing subsequent and/or potential partners of the risk posed by the individual they are becoming involved with. Domestic violence death reviews consistently show that a history of domestic violence and other related criminal activity is a major risk factor for future violence, therefore Clare’s Law is an evidence-based approach to reducing incidents of intimate partner violence and risk of intimate homicide.
There are two pillars of Clare’s Law, the “right to know”, and, the “right to ask”. The “right to know” comes into play when police become aware that an individual is at risk and they initiate the disclosure. One example of how this may take place is a situation where neighbours hear a dispute and call the police. If there is no evidence that a crime has taken place when the police arrive and the individuals involved choose not to make a statement, there may not be much the police can do. However, if police discover that one individual has a history of violence against a previous intimate partner or a history of sexualized violence, Clare’s Law can enable them to share information with the current partner and potentially prevent them from experiencing future violence and abuse.
The “right to ask” allows for someone who feels they may be at risk to make a Clare’s Law application at a municipal police service. The officer or civilian police service member will take some information around the context of the request to ensure that it fits with the intent of Clare’s Law. For example, requests that are seeking information about an ex-partner or in an attempt to gain information for reasons other than safety may be denied. An initial check will be conducted to ensure that the individual making the application is not in immediate danger. If it is determined that they are in immediate danger, safeguarding actions will be taken by police. If the initial discussion with the applicant reveals that a chargeable offense has taken place the police must pursue it, but this does not mean that the request for disclosure of past police involvement or convictions cannot move forward.
Professionals who work in specified occupations, such as shelter workers, domestic and family violence counsellors, police, lawyers, social workers, psychologists, and nurses may assist with or make an application on behalf of an applicant, with the consent of the applicant. Parents or guardians may also make an application on behalf of someone under 18 or someone who does not have capacity to apply on their own. It is important to note that the Protocol also allows for individuals with a close personal knowledge of someone with a history of using violence in relationships to make an application under Clare’s Law. This means that former partners of abusers can initiate the process so that a new partner may receive disclosure information, warning them that they may be at risk.
The Protocol is a four-part process. First, there is the initiation of the process, either by an individual applicant, or by a police service. Next, assessment of risk takes place through police record checks and gathering information from the applicant. Third, the multi-sector review committee reviews the available information and makes a recommendation, before the fourth step where a disclosure is made to the person at risk.
The multi-sector review committee is made up of representatives from community (PATHS), Victims Services, and law enforcement and has access to anonymized information, including: relevant criminal convictions; relevant criminal charges; diversions (charges dealt with by an alternative process, such as domestic violence court); police warnings; and other concerning behaviour known to police. They may receive the text of complainants’ statements in police records, if available, which can help to flag risk factors that are not criminal in nature such as coercive controlling behavior and mental health or substance use issues. Unfortunately, the amount of information available may be negatively impacted by the RCMP’s decision not to participate in Clare’s Law. The multi-sector committee reviews the information provided and collectively determines the level of risk, if a disclosure is recommended, and who should receive the disclosure. The final decision to disclose or not rests with the police service that received the application, as the information legally belongs to the police.
Even cases where no risk information is found the individual making the application will be told that this is not a guarantee that they are not at risk and they will be provided with referrals for risk assessment and safety planning. If there is an imminent risk of harm, the process can jump directly from initiation or assessment of risk to disclosure. Protocols are in place to ensure the safety of the applicants including ensuring that a safe contact number is obtained and that the disclosure meeting is held at a location that is deemed safe by the applicant.
The disclosure information will include the multi-sector review committee’s determination of level of risk – high, medium or low. While no personal information or specifics from the police file will be disclosed, relevant criminal convictions and pending charges are public record and will likely be shared. Additional relevant information may include if the individual has access to weapons, as well as a listing of risk factors that may not be criminal but demonstrate increased risk and information about support services. Efforts will be made to have violence against women advocates or victim services present to provide safety planning and risk assessment after the disclosure. At a minimum, referral information will be provided.
Individuals who receive a disclosure under Clare’s Law must sign a confidentiality agreement in which they agree that they commit to only using the information provided within their circle of care to keep themselves and others, including children, safe; to ask what support is available and who to contact if they believe they or others are at risk; and to ask for advice on how to keep themselves and others safe. The disclosure is verbal– nothing concerning the disclosure is given in print.
As mentioned, the RCMP has, so far, declined to participate in Clare’s Law despite provinces such as Alberta and Newfoundland moving forward with similar legislation. A Saskatchewan resident, Anika Henderson, who lost a family member to intimate partner homicide, has initiated a petition, Petition e-2767, to the federal Minister of Justice, which calls upon the federal government to amend the current federal Privacy Act to allow for an exemption to the Act, for the purposes of sharing information in the interests of protecting individuals from risk related to intimate partner violence. The petition is open until November 5th. As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Protocol was amended to allow municipal police to take applications over the phone as opposed to requiring in-person requests. This has the advantage of also allowing individuals who live in rural and remote areas served by the RCMP to access Clare’s Law by contacting municipal police by phone.
Only a small number of applications have been submitted and reviewed to date, but in each of these cases the multi-sector review committee made a recommendation to disclose. As the cases are being reviewed, it has become even more clear that Clare’s Law has the ability to proactively protect individuals from risk of harm or death from serial perpetrators of violence.
On International Women’s Day 2020, Karen went to British Columbia representing RESOLVE Saskatchewan to lead a conversation titled: “Shhh… talk about it: Elephants in the room and gender equality” at Houston's International Women's Day Dinner Event. She focused on where we are with gender equality/equity in Canada, recognizing that gender inequality is the foundation that enables gender-based violence.
Karen drew attention to the silence surrounding violence towards women and girls: the Elephant in the room. She mentions three “invisibility cloaks” wrapped around the Elephant: Social Norms; Not knowing what violence is; and Harm Narrative. The first two “cloaks” were familiar to me, yet the “Harm Narrative” caught my attention. According to Karen, it is a reminder to look at the violence issue more broadly. The Harm Narrative places the woman as the problem, deflecting attention away from who is harming her. One of the questions Karen is exploring is how we can support individuals and families who are experiencing abuse, who want to disengage from the harm while keeping the relationship intact. Karen’s hope is that we can find ways to support women who are experiencing IPV, whether or not they remain in the relationship and support her and her family in finding different ways to end the abuse. By shifting the focus and "adopting safety rather than leaving as the desired outcome, we are taking more responsibility for keeping women safe” (Yoshioka & Choi, 2005) while respecting her needs and autonomy.
Karen also approached topics on what we can do and how to help someone, concluding her intervention with a call to action for everyone in the community to help prevent violence.
Archived News and Events
Substance Use Coercion and Intimate Partner Violence Survivors in Family Court - February 8
The RESOLVE network hosted a webinar discussing the issue of substance use coercion and its impact on survivors of IPV, as well as the intersection of substance use coercion and the family court system., including the prevalence of the issue, how family court personnel can best address the issue, and promising practices for supporting survivors impacted by the issue. This event took place online Wednesday, February 8.
Reflecting on the Papal Visit; Sexual Health, Gender Identity, Reparations - January 31
In recognition of a new year, a conversation with Elders and Indigenous community leaders reflecting on the Papal visit was held. This event took place online on Tuesday, January 31st. Click here for more information.
Atlas Institute Veteran Family Virtual Summit - January 27 and 28
The Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families hosted a free, two-part virtual summit dedicated to providing information, tools and resources about Veteran Family mental health. Click here for more information.
MMIWG: Human Trafficking in the Prairie Provinces - January 17
A presentation of new research by Dr. Manuela Valle Castro, Gwen Dueck, and Dr. Priscilla Settee. This event took place in person at the Gorden Oakes Red Bear Student Centre on January 17th, 10am-12pm CST. Click here for more information.
Network Exchange by STOPS to Violence - December 13
A monthly online forum to support learning and information sharing about initiatives and resources that contribute to addressing gender-based violence in Saskatchewan. Click here for more information.
This session featured Karen Wood and Jorden Cummings of RESOLVE Saskatchewan and Shandrea Verboom of Inclusion Saskatchewan and took place on December 13, 9am-10:30am.
November ATTACH Webinar Series - Nov. 25
"The ATTACH Intervention: An Introduction and Perspectives from ATTACH Parents"
November's ATTACH webinar series featured Dr. Nicole Letourneau and a panel of ATTACH family/parents to talk about their experiences with ATTACH, participating in research and accessing resources.
Took place November 25, 12:00pm-1:00pm MST.
The Peter Jaffe Lectures on Ending Domestic Violence: "Children Bereaved by Domestic Homicide: The Implications for Home, Relationships and Identity" - Nov. 25
When a parent is killed by their partner, their children experience multiple losses. As the Jaffe Lectures keynote, Dr. John Devaney explored what is known about these issues and the implications for children in relation to their practical care, and their longer-term sense of identities and relationships with significant others.
Took place November 25, 2:00pm EST.
ISPCAN Prevention Month Webinar - Nov. 17
"Trauma Informed Mental Health Care - Prevention in Children at Risk & Increasing Resilience in Traumatized Children"
As part of their November Prevention campaign, ISPCAN offerred a presentation highlghting one country's system of care around prevention focusing on the mental health of parents and children atvarious stages.
ISPCAN Prevention Month Webinar - Nov. 10
"Protecting Children from Maltreatment Across All Ages in Challenging Times"
As part of their November Prevention campaign, ISPCAN offered a presentation highlighting what gold standard resources can be built in any community to ensure that families have access to what is needed to provide safe family situations for children. This session focused on programs across all age groups, from birth to adolescence.
World Premier ISPCAN Film Event: Inspiring Change through Storytelling - Oct. 27 2022
Amy is preparing for her art exhibition when a comment reignites traumatic childhood memories. She wants help but struggles with family loyalty. This film is based on interviews with people who are recovering from childhood sexual abuse and was inspired by Dr Claire Cunnington's Wellcome Trust funded doctoral research at the University of Sheffield. A world premiere and panel discussion with Dr Cunnington and Chris Godwin, founder and creative director of Inner Eye Productio, took place on October 27, 2022.
"Regrouping & Recharging: Gathering to Create Sustainable Change" - Oct. 19 and 20 2022
The theme of this year's PATHS conference was "Regrouping & Recharging: Gathering to Create Sustainable Change." The conference took place in Regina on October 19 and 20, 2022. More info at PATHS.
Mapping the Sixties Scoop Diaspora with Colleen Cardinal - Oct. 13 2022
Colleen Hele-Cardinal from the Sixties Scoop Network (SSN) came to the University of Saskatchewan to host a workshop on the Sixties Scoop and digital mapping and to talk about her GIS mapping project "In our Own Words: Mapping the Sixties Scoop Diaspora." Poster here.
Saskatchewan Violence Prevention Week - Oct. 4 - Oct. 8 2022
SVPW was held from October 24-October 28, 2022 with the theme 'It Starts With You'. Click here for more information.
How to Become a "No Hit" Zone - Sept. 22, 29, and Oct. 4 2022
ISPCAN partnered with the National No Hit Zone Committee to offer a free three-part, three-hour online training to introduce key parenting practices that offer an effective alternative to corporal punishment.
Session 1: The "Why": Introduction to No Hit Zone & How to Convince Your Organization to Become One
Session 2: The "How": You've Become a No Hit Zone—Now What?
Session 3: Alternative to Corporal Punishment: Parenting Practices That Work
Gender-Based Violence and Maltreatment in Sport - Sept. 29 2022
The Learning Network offerred this Resource Spotlight online at no cost to participants. The presentation reviewed the current evidence regarding malreatment in sport, contributing factors, effects on athletes, and recommendations for prevention and intervention. A recording of the presentation is available here.
RESOLVE Talk 202: Dusting Off Our Past for a Safer Tomorrow - Nov. 19 2021
Find more information about this archived event here.
SASS Sexual Violence Awareness Week
Recordings of the webinar sessions from SASS Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2020 can be found on their YouTube channel here.
"The Road" Screening and Conversation with Producers and Cast
The Road (2020) is a short film starring the Indigenous girls of Stardale Women's Group. It explores various themes pertaining to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the legacy and inter-generational impact of colonialism in Canada. Recently, Stardale received the award for Best Short film from the Montreal Independent Film Festival and the "Award of Commendation" at the Canada Shorts Film Festival.
Responding to Gender-Based Violence Across the Prairies Webinar
On November 26th 2020, the RESOLVE Network and Circling Buffalo Inc. offerred the Responding to Gender-Based Violence Across the Prairies webinar to acknowledge November as being Domestic Violence Awareness month (Manitoba) and Family Violence Prevention month (Alberta).
Guest Speakers included Dr. Erin Whitmore (Ending Violence Association of Canada) & Dr. Anna Lise Turnbull (Anova), who presented “Pandemic Meets Pandemic: Understanding the Impacts of COVID-19 on Gender-Based Violence Services and Survivors in Canada”. Elder Mae Louise Campbell, Laurie Mackenzie (Great White Owl Woman), and Kim Trossel presented on the sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of Indigenous women and girls and the Clan Mothers’ Healing Village project.
A recording of the webinar can be found here.
Nova Scotia Mass Shooting
We are profoundly saddened by the tragic events in Nova Scotia, with the loss of so many lives.
Our thoughts continue to be with those affected. The Feminist Coalition has released a statement regarding this horrific event.