On the anniversary of Nadia El-Dib’s death, hundreds of people gathered at Eden Brook Memorial Gardens to celebrate her life.

How Racha El-Dib and Alexandra Daignault are collaborating to advocate for violence prevention. Produced by Sarah Green and Karina Zapata

As the sun began to set, each individual lit a candle. Together, the hundreds of candles lit up the gardens — a representation of how much love and light Nadia brought to the ones who loved her before she died on Mar. 25, 2018.

This was an incredibly difficult day for Racha El-Dib, Nadia’s older sister. At the candlelight vigil, she spoke through tears to Nadia, who was murdered a year ago by her ex-boyfriend.

“He didn’t deserve to meet you. I’m so sorry that he even knew who you were,” said El-Dib about Nadia’s murderer who died in a shootout with the RCMP four days after killing Nadia.

Despite the pain El-Dib endured, she said she’s found hope amidst this tragedy. Shortly after her sister’s death, El-Dib created Nadia’s Hope, a podcast and social movement that honours Nadia’s life and advocates for women across Canada.

Through Nadia’s Hope, El-Dib works to raise awareness about the reality of domestic violence in Canada.

In 2016, it was reported that a woman in Canada is killed by an intimate partner every six days. However, in the last year, that number has increased by over 240 per cent.

Now, a new report by the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability shows that a woman or girl is killed every 2.5 days in Canada as a result of domestic violence.

Due to these statistics, El-Dib started to partner with other like-minded organizations to raise money for domestic abuse victims. Over the past year, she has collaborated with the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, Shoppers Drug Mart and Gems for Gems.

Gems for Gems, a domestic abuse support charity, is allowing Nadia’s legacy to live on. Last year, the organization started a scholarship program to cover education funds for victims who have fled their abusive relationships.

“Once they’re out of the shelters, they can really establish themselves financially, no longer needing to rely on their significant other and abuser,” said El-Dib.

Throughout her partnerships, El-Dib and the organizations have raised over $80,000 for women who are trying to escape domestic violence.

However, monetary collaborations aren’t the only goal of El-Dib’s initiative. When Nadia’s Hope was launched, she began working alongside Alexandra Daignault, the founder of Sarjesa, a socially-focused tea company that supports violence prevention for women in crisis.

57066140 647616105684976 715668162854518784 nDaignault believes that violence prevention means giving women the support they need to be able to step out of crisis. Photo by Sarah Green
This opened up opportunities for El-Dib to team up with people from different cultures and backgrounds.

“I started to meet other women from different backgrounds and the more we got to talk, the more we were like, ‘We have the same story.’ That really inspired me to not be scared,” said El-Dib.

Daignault also believes in the power of women’s stories.

“I have trouble describing women as vulnerable. Maybe a better way of saying it is, women who have been made to be vulnerable,” Daignault explained.

In an effort to support El-Dib, Daignault donates tea to Nadia’s Hope.
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Not only does this help guests feel welcome when telling their stories on the podcast, it also raises awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, with information about the crisis on each box of tea.

Together, El-Dib and Daignault are opening up space for women’s stories to be heard from all backgrounds.

“I’m here to listen to you. I’m here to hear your story. I’m not here to say, ‘Woe is me. My story is worse.’ It’s not a competition. It’s really just about our women being killed,” said El-Dib.

Editor: Sam Nar | snar@cjournal.ca

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