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Barrie shelter launches Wrapped In Courage Campaign to support victims of abuse

"We encourage people to wrap everything in purple. So purple streak in your hair, wear a purple ribbon, put a purple bow on trees around your neighbourhood," said the Barrie Women and Children's Shelter of their 2022 fundraiser. (Kendall Warner/The News & Advance via AP).

Amid a growing need, the Barrie Women and Children’s Shelter is marking the start of Women Abuse Prevention Month with the launch of its annual Wrapped in Courage Campaign.

The annual awareness event is focused on showing women in the southern Ontario community who are trying to leave an abusive situation they have support.

“We really want to inform the community that while we support the courage of women to leave abusive relationships, the courage of a woman is not enough. We need the support of the community. We need the community to be aware that there are many women and their children who are living in violence,” said Teresa MacLennan, executive director of the shelter.

To support the campaign, people are encouraged to purchase a purple scarf or tie from the shelter to show victims of violence they are not alone.

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“We encourage people to wrap everything in purple. So purple streak in your hair, wear a purple ribbon, put a purple bow on trees around your neighbourhood. That really is a strong message to the community,” she said.

MacLennan said the number of incidents of violence against women in the communities shows no signs of declining and has only worsened since the start of the pandemic.

She tells Global News they are over capacity with women and children in Barrie needing to leave abusive situations.

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She said despite only being funded for 27 beds, they support more like 35 women and children at a time, including two beds dedicated to human trafficking victims.

“We have to refer out over 500 women every year to other shelters in our community because we are at capacity. We truly cannot meet the needs of the women who call our crisis line, which is a 24-hour line.”

Throughout the year, the shelter supports more than 3,000 women and children through its various services.

In addition to shelter services, the Barrie Women and Children’s Shelter provides support in helping women find new homes, support for women going through the court system, and a therapeutic program for children impacted by violence.

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In 2019, a woman was killed by her intimate partner every six days in Canada, but since the start of the pandemic, the number of women and girls killed by violence increased to 160 victims in 2020 and 173 in 2021, the shelter reports.

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Indigenous women are among those most at risk, with one in five women killed in 2020 being First Nation, Metis or Inuit.

On Nov. 25, the shelter will raise the Wrapped in Courage Flag at Barrie City Hall and will launch its 16 days of action, where residents are encouraged to do something to help in the fight to end violence against women.

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