Program stresses importance of being prepared

thumbnail copyEmpowerment is a word that echoes through the small gray classroom
 holding a free self-defence workshop for women, at the Women’s Centre. Women from all walks of life gather in a tight circle, where they learn the basics about how to stay safe and defend themselves 
against an attacker in difficult situations.

Jackie Carrier, 46, one of the participants of the workshop, holds 
memories of the time she was assaulted in Regina, Sask., at the age of 27. She
 said because it was an unexpected attack from behind, there was 
nothing she could do.

Siad SelfDefence

“I was with my cousin and this guy just came and stabbed me eight 
times because he thought I was his ex-wife,” said Carrier, noting that
 the man was intoxicated. “I remember where I was getting hit, how many 
times, I remember hitting a brick wall and falling down and he was 
just about ready to stab me again and he got me in the hand and he 
realized I was the wrong person.” Liz Harriman-Crooks holds up two punching pads as a student lines up to give her a shot. This free workshop at the Women’s Centre teaches women how to defend themselves against an attacker.

Photo by: Asha Siad

That mistake almost cost Carrier her life. She said that her thick
 leather jacket basically saved her because it stopped most of the 
stabbings. After the assault, Carrier said she was held up in her 
mother’s house for weeks and had to be escorted everywhere she went.

”I was confident. I was doing good and then all of the sudden now I’m 
sitting in this house, can’t go anywhere without anybody coming with
 me, and I can’t go to the store without a police officer or my
 brothers with me,” she said. “That’s not the way to live.”

Liz Harriman-Crooks has been teaching self–defence for the past 16 years. She emphasizes that everyone should take some kind of self-defence class; men, women and

”Part of self-defence is knowing that you can avoid some situations,
but also that you can look after yourself in situations,” said 
Harriman-Crooks. She added that anyone can be the target of an

“You do not have to be living on the street. You do not have to be a
14-year-old girl walking home from babysitting at two in the morning.
You can be a business woman getting out of her car in a parking lot
 downtown and walking into her office and have a problem. You can be
sitting in your own home and have a problem,” said Harriman-Crooks.

This workshop, like many others at the Women’s Centre, aims 
to provide opportunities for women to connect with others while 
learning new skills in a safe environment. The women not only learn how to defend themselves against an attacker, but also what situations and behaviours are safe, and what are not. 

“Unfortunately, we live in a world where violence against women is 
extremely common,” said Sarah Winstanley, education co-ordinator at 
the centre. “It can be a very empowering thing for women to discover 
that they are able to defend themselves.”

Interview with Liz Harriman-Crooks

Although Carrier left Regina for Calgary after the assault because she 
felt safer, she said what happened to her could occur anywhere and
 she recommends every woman take a self-defence class.

Carrier, who is unemployed, said this past year her injuries have
 affected her a lot. She said the nerve endings on her fingers and
 shoulder from the stab wounds have been recently reacting since the 
incident. She has been getting counseling and physiotherapy.

Despite all of this Carrier remains optimistic and spends her time
 volunteering, doing artwork and facilitating an arts and crafts 
workshop at the centre. She also plans on taking more self-defence 

”It empowers you through your mind. It makes you feel more like a 
woman that should be safe and secure no matter where she goes instead 
of having to stay at home and hide or wait for somebody to take you
 somewhere,” said Carrier.

For more information visit the Women’s Centre.

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