Ottawa, 31 March 2023
Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC), the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia (THANS) and Be the Peace Institute (BTPI) are pleased that the Mass Casualty Commission’s final report reflects the concerns raised by the gender-based violence sector during its inquiry into the events of April 2020 in Portapique, Nova Scotia.
“The Commissioners have found what we in the anti-violence sector have been saying for decades,” said Lise Martin, executive director of WSC. “The idea that domestic violence is a private matter is flawed and dangerous. We know that most mass casualty events are preceded by gender-based violence, and if we deal effectively with that issue, we can prevent violence both within and outside the home.”
We are heartened that the Commission’s report recommends, like the jury in the Renfrew County Inquest recently did, that all levels of government declare gender-based violence to be an epidemic and that men must engage in individual and collective action to end this epidemic.
“It was vindicating to see that the Commission found that funding to the gender-based violence sector has been inadequate for years, endangering women’s lives,” said Dawn Ferris of THANS. “We see this on a day-to-day basis and commend the Commission for calling for more funding to support women and children fleeing violence.”
We are also pleased that the Commission recognized that the violence perpetrated against Lisa Banfield on April 18, 2020 was part of the mass casualty event, and that it called out the victim-blaming that women survivors, like Banfield, face. Specifically, the Commission correctly found that the RCMP did not treat Banfield as a surviving victim who needed support and that their reaction had a chilling effect on other survivors.
“Women survivors of intimate partner violence are not responsible for the actions of their abusive partners,” said Sue Bookchin, executive director of Be the Peace Institute. “It was disheartening to see the criminalization of Lisa Banfield in the aftermath of the mass casualty. The findings in this report are one way to begin to right that wrong.”
Finally, we agree with Commissioner MacDonald that many of the Commission’s recommendations are not new. Many of these recommendations have been made before, both by past inquests and through projects such as the collaborative roadmap for a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence. We too hope that this is the last time such recommendations will be needed.
Commissions, reports, and recommendations are important. But what’s even more important are the actions taken afterwards. We look forward to seeing that action.
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For media enquiries, contact:
Kaitlin Bardswich, Director of Communications, Development, and Grants
Women’s Shelters Canada brings together 16 provincial and territorial shelter organizations and supports the over 600 shelters across the country for women and children fleeing violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can find your nearest women’s shelter and its crisis line on www.sheltersafe.ca.
Ann de Ste Croix , Provincial Coordinator
The Transition House Association of Nova Scotia represents 11 member organizations that provide crisis and transitional services to women and their children who are experiencing violence and abuse.
Sue Bookchin, Executive Director
Be the Peace Institute is a non-profit based in rural Nova Scotia with a mandate to address the roots and consequences of gender-based violence, while working toward the social and systemic change needed to ensure gender equity and social justice.