CALGARY (CityNews) – Valentine’s Day can be difficult for those not in happy relationships. For those escaping or experiencing domestic violence, the day can be unbearable.
That’s why Calgary’s World Sikh Organization (WSO) joined cities in Canada and around the world for the “One Billion Rising” campaign to end violence against women.
The group collected more than $5,000 to disperse into care packages for women in shelters and those fleeing domestic violence. But the main goal is to raise awareness.
“It’s about the statistic that one-in-three women will be harmed in their lifetime, which makes over one billion women worldwide,” said Remneek Kaur, a volunteer at WSO.
During the pandemic, it has been shown that domestic abuse has become more frequent, severe and dangerous, and it comes at a time when victim services are working at limited capacities and online.
According to Statistics Canada, 54 per cent of victim services reported they saw an increase in domestic abuse clients from the start of the pandemic until mid-July of last year. The increase is attributed to stresses caused by the pandemic, and people being in the home more often.
The World Sikh Organization has been running this campaign for almost a decade. This year, the care packages were donated to the YWCA women’s shelter, as well as organizations and shelters serving ethnically diverse populations, like Nisa Homes and the Sikh Family Helpline.
“A lot of times those women feel that, ‘I don’t know where I can turn, if they’ll understand me or my background or where I come from,’” said Kaur. “So to be able to say we’re doing this campaign, yes it’s to help everybody, but when you bring in certain organizations and are able to bring light to the fact that they exist, it’s definitely helpful.”
Because of COVID-19, only one family got together this week to put the packages together, which are worth more than $150 each. They were dispersed on Sunday to bring joy on a day that could otherwise be painful.
“I know today or the days around today are not easy, but we’re here for you, we love you, we support you and sometimes, just that little bit of encouragement alone can help to get to the next day even,” said Kaur.
“It’s definitely a good feeling to be able to know you’re bringing someone some comfort in a difficult time, especially on Valentine’s Day.”