Sagesse is an organization whose goals focus on challenging the conventional practices of resolving domestic and sexual violence. From their perspective, that involves a commitment to courage, vulnerability, curiosity and a “trust in the messiness” of a non-linear and continually evolving set of initiatives. Amy Munroe, Intervention Services Lead at Sagesse, talked about how they work towards building healthier communities in Calgary.
What do you feel are the types of things your organization is doing that are the most innovative in creating equitable communities?
We really try to listen to community and adapt our programs and services to make sure that we’re meeting their needs. Domestic abuse has existed for many, many decades and we know that it continues to increase. And that tells us that as a sector, we’re still missing the mark somewhere. So for us, we’re really interested in looking at what are different ways that we can engage around the topic of domestic abuse and really address it. One of the ways that we do that is through our peer support programs for those that are impacted by domestic abuse. This can be for folks that are experiencing abuse as well as folks that are along all kinds of different intersections.
Who or what do you feel hinders the progress towards achieving equitable communities?
In the case of domestic abuse, when people go for support, we need to have effective legislative support and a justice system armed to support people impacted by abuse. Obviously, this is not a magic cure. But we use the lens of coercive control to talk about domestic abuse. There is a bill right now (C-332 aimed to amend the Criminal Code) that’s currently being tabled. And we’re hoping that it’s going to be debated in the House of Commons around the legislating of coercive control. What we need to see is a huge shift in systems and policies. That, I think, is a huge barrier to equitable communities, because we can have all of the intervention and prevention support and services, but if we don’t have policies and legislations that are supporting that work, then we often get to a standstill. And this is what we see all the time in domestic abuse.
What parts of the city do you see as being the most vulnerable?
In the case of domestic abuse, there is no part of the city that are more impacted than not. What we know is that domestic abuse knows no bounds. It doesn’t matter what your race, what your age, what your gender, what your socioeconomic status is, it impacts everyone and anybody. And so I think in that way, all of Calgary has this pervasive issue of domestic abuse, it impacts everyone.
Who else do you feel is doing innovative work improving the well-being of communities?
A few suggestions are Umoja Community Mosaic, The Circle on Philanthropy, Sankofa, Action Dignity, Immigrant Services Calgary’s Gateway Program.
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