Shelters: More than a Refuge from Violence

Shelters and transition houses are much more than refuges from violence – they are places where women rebuild their lives.

They are safe transitional homes for women to reconnect with themselves and their children, and plan ways to move forward in a life of safety and security.

Shelter workers provide services to women and children who are often the most marginalized. These women may be experiencing intergenerational trauma, addiction, and/or mental health concerns. They may be newly arrived immigrants or refugees, have difficulty securing housing, or be involved in a child custody case.

To help women become the healthiest, happiest, and safest versions of themselves, women’s shelters offer a variety of services such as 24/7 counselling, children’s programs, parenting classes, mental health and addiction services, legal and housing services, men’s programs, and assistance with applications to educational and apprenticeship programs. Women do not need to stay in the shelter to receive these services; in fact, for every two women receiving support while living in shelter, there are five accessing outreach services.

The videos and stories below illustrate just some of the many ways shelters and shelter workers improve the lives of the women and children they serve.

What Shelter Workers Want Women to Know
Shelter workers from across the country talk about what they want women who might need their services to know.


What Shelter Workers Want the General Public to Know
Shelter workers across Canada on what they wish the general public better understood about their work.

Autumn House – Amherst, Nova Scotia
In rural Nova Scotia, Autumn House provides services for all of Cumberland County. It is one of a few shelters in Canada that offers a program for male perpetrators of domestic violence.

Ikwe Widdjiitiwin – Winnipeg, Manitoba
Ikwe is an Aboriginal shelter in Winnipeg that supports Aboriginal women and their children escaping domestic and family violence, through a decolonizing and intergenerational trauma approach.

Maison d’amitié – Ottawa, Ontario (video available in French only)
Maison d’amitié, the largest francophone shelter in Ontario, is a multicultural shelter that offers a specific program on sexual violence.

Maison Flora Tristan – Montreal, Quebec (video available in French only)
Maison Flora Tristan, with a clientele consisting of 85% immigrants, is the only shelter in Quebec with emergency beds and transitional housing under the same roof.

Moose Jaw Transition House – Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
In rural Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw Transition House works within cultural and language barriers in its location in a refugee settlement area.

Saskatoon Interval House – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Saskatoon Interval House operates an emergency shelter that includes a children’s program, which includes teaching children what a healthy relationship looks like in order to break the cycle of violence.

Voices of Survivors
Survivors of domestic violence from across the country tell their stories.