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New women’s domestic abuse shelter supports Calgary’s newcomers

WATCH: They are two initiatives designed to save lives of people escaping domestic violence. As the Calgary Police Service launches a new app for survivors to access help, a new emergency shelter designed specifically for new immigrants has opened its doors. Jill Croteau reports.

The name of a new women’s shelter means a peaceful place. Calgary’s Maskan was developed by the Canadian Pakistani Support Group.

It’s been three years in the making. Aneela Azeem helped inspire the shelter for newcomers and immigrants in the city.

“They don’t know who to talk to and who should they trust,” Azeem said Wednesday.

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The home is in an undisclosed location for safety reasons and is equipped to house six adults and four children.

Children’s playroom in the shelter.
Children’s playroom in the shelter. Jill Croteau/Global News

The hope is to inspire empowerment and give people tools on how to be financially independent. Azeem wants to educate certain cultures on gender equality and women’s rights.

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“Even when we opened this home, there [were] a lot of men in our community who really appreciate it. They have daughters and sisters and they have a good heart,” Azeem said. “But there are people not happy.

“Nobody wants to talk about it and the problem exists and there is a lot to teach people.”

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Bedroom in Maskan women’s shelter.
Bedroom in Maskan women’s shelter. Jill Croteau/Global News

A new app and website called Connect Line launched by the Calgary Police Service is also designed to help survivors navigate resources — newcomers among them. Eventually, the app will be released in different languages.

READ MORE: Calgary police launch New Connect Line app for domestic abuse support

“I got to meet a few women and their stories [were] unbelievable. Their husbands told them the whole place is not secure and you have to stay home and don’t go out or you’ll get killed. We have to educate them, it’s not like that,” Azeem said.

While they stress the fact that violence and abuse are not allowed or tolerated, in some religions, divorce is a last resort. Part of the programming includes reconciliation and counselling for the family in hopes of repairing any fractures within the home.