This violence needs to stop,’ Durham advocates react to mass shooting in Sault Ste. Marie

Wed, Nov 15, 2023 5:00 PM GMT

Last weeks mass shooting in Sault Ste. Marie is sounding the alarm locally in Durham Region for more awareness around intimate partner violence. Local leaders and advocates are calling on the Government on Ontario for urgent change.

Just days before Halloween, anger, shock and sadness fill the small community of Sault Ste. Marie, after five people were shot dead last Monday night.

Five people – including three children, were found dead at two homes, in what police are calling a result of intimate partner violence.

In Durham Region, this tragic incident is sounding the alarm for more awareness around intimate partner violence, and advocates are calling for more urgent change from the provincial government.

“I have no words, this violence absolutely needs to stop,” said Whitby and Regional Councilor, Maleeha Shahid.

Shahid hopes the incident in Sault Ste. Marie could be a driver for much needed change.

“I urge the province to declare this as an epidemic. This needs to stop, and I know our Ontario government is compassionate, and will listen,” said Shahid. “We need more help, dollars, and commitment to end intimate partner violence. We can’t let this happen in our communities.”

Victim Services of Durham Region (VSDR) has also been doing its part in asking the government to recognize this emergency and continue to see an increase of clients seeking supports daily.

According to Sydney Marcoux with VSDR, Intimate Partner Violence has grown seven times the amount it was in 2018 in Durham Region alone.

“Last year alone victim services serviced nearly 4,500 individuals impacted by Intimate Partner Violence, 90 per cent being women and girl,” said Marcoux.

But for those working the front lines, the fear is that these numbers will continue to climb until gaps in the community for support and resources are filled.



Back in April, the Town of Whitby unanimously passed a motion to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic. The rest of the region followed suit, as well as over 25 other regions across Ontario.

But that wasn’t enough to sway the government.

In June, the province rejected calls from an inquest into the deaths of three women by their former partners, to declare this crisis an epidemic. It was brought forward by the jury in the inquest into the 2015 deaths of Natalie Warnerdam, Carol Culleton, and Anastasia Kuzyk in Renfrew County.

A response from the spokesperson for the Solicitor General stated the rejection is partially due to the term epidemic, as it’s not an infectious disease.

The statement reads, “Within the public health context of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, an outbreak is understood to be the spread of an infectious or communicable disease in a community. In this regard, intimate partner violence (IPV) would not be considered an epidemic as it is not an infectious or communicable disease.”

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However, the statement went on to say: “ We continue to work to address IPV using a concerted, whole-of-government approach.” Last month the province gave $100,000 to Durham Region to help fight domestic violence and human trafficking.



But Shahid asks, how many more times does IPV need to happen to create urgency, and adds the numbers support that need for action.

According to Statistics Canada, 90 homicide victims were killed in 2021 by their intimate partner. Three-quarters of them were women and girls. This number is up from 84 victims in 2020, and 77 victims in 2019.

“Just from November last year to June this year, a study was conducted in Ontario and 30 women in 30 weeks died from femicide, which is shocking,” said Marcoux.

Shahid adds that while this is a huge issue in Durham Region, she knows that it’s affecting almost every municipality.

“This is not just an Ontario issue. This is a Canada issue. And it needs to stop”

Locally, advocates are calling for more funding, and resources from all three levels of government to tackle this issue. They say the funding will help catch those victims who are falling through the cracks of a broken system, but until then, they will continue to put pressure on the province for action.

Original Article post on Global News

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