Honouring frontline service providers dealing with domestic violence

By Sheldon Spackman
November 7, 2018 - 4:45pm Updated: November 8, 2018 - 9:01am

Frontline service providers who deal with domestic violence in central Alberta were recognized for their efforts during a special ceremony held in Red Deer on Wednesday.

Central Alberta’s Domestic and Relationship Violence Initiative Committee (DRVIC) hosted their 14th Annual Frontline Service Providers Awards Luncheon at the Radisson Hotel, with nearly 100 people in attendance.

It was a chance for the organization to honour individuals who have made a significant contribution by working directly with people and families impacted by domestic violence and bullying.

Held each year since 2005 during Family Violence Prevention Month, 10 nominations were submitted this year, with two winners given a Frontline Service Providers Award and a third acknowledged with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tosha Duncan, Prevention and Trauma Specialist with the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter humbly accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award this year and admits her passion is working with women.

“I do struggle with taking recognition because I feel that I’m very much privileged in order to be able to do this work,” says Duncan. “People invite us into their lives at times when they may be struggling and even just having the opportunity to walk with them briefly to me is a huge honour. This award is shared in this room, we have a community collaborative which I feel is second to none in Red Deer and so it’s the partnerships that make the work possible.”

“Doing trauma informed care is not a linear path,” adds Duncan. “The teamwork and collaboration within my organization and just the common goal and commitment to working to reduce barriers to accessing services but also then to provide wrap-around support and truly meet clients where they’re at, I’m just very grateful for those partnerships.”

Amanda Cook, Team Lead of the Crisis Team with the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter and one of two winners of a Frontline Service Provider Award, says she’s surprised with the recognition.

“I’m new to the field so I’m very excited and very honoured,” she exclaims. “I’m very dedicated to what I do and very honoured to be on the front lines and hear the stories that I do every day and get to stand with the women that I serve. I’m very passionate about recognizing marginalized communities and people that are struggling.”

Cook describes the team she works with however as ‘absolutely amazing’.

“I’ve had the advantage of mentoring under Tosha Duncan, so I’m very, very fortunate,” adds Cook. “The community can also do their part in helping to end domestic violence as we all play a role. We’re very fortunate in Red Deer, Red Deer is a very generous community and they’re constantly helping us out with donations and things like that to help us keep doing what we’re doing.”

Samantha Chanminaraj, an Assessor with Children’s Services in Red Deer was also recognized with a Frontline Provider Service Award and says she was honoured just to be nominated, let alone win.

“I have to thank my co-workers, my office and my team for allowing me to continue to keep doing this work,” she adds gushingly. “Also, being involved with this amazing central Alberta community, we have so many agencies to support everybody with domestic violence and bullying. It’s really amazing to know that with the job that I get to do, we can keep kids and families safe in their communities and know that we have the backing of our community and agencies to support that.”

Irving Kurz, Collaborative Coordinator with the Domestic Relationship Violence Initiative Committee, says they believe it’s extremely important to hold the event each year, as the frontline service providers do this important work seven days-a-week, 24 hours-a-day.

“It’s our chance to say ‘thank you, we appreciate you’,” states Kurz. “What would happen if we didn’t have these people? If we didn’t have all these incredible people, what would happen to those kids who are living in homes where there’s family violence?”

“What options would there be for all those victims of family violence?” wonders Kurz. “Where would they turn to for help? Where would they go where it’s safe? How would they access any kind of resources at all? That’s what these people collectively do here.”

Kurz says people in central Alberta need to know there’s an incredible amount of top-notch, excellent resources for people dealing with domestic violence and bullying.

“The resources that we have here are really without par,” explains Kurz. “I would match the people that we have working in this area here to any other location in North America. Many of the people in the room here I know and I work with on a daily basis, I’m extremely proud of them and I’m very proud to be able to call them peers, my associates, my friends.”

November is Family Violence Prevention Month and in central Alberta people are once again encouraged to take part in the Purple Light Nights campaign, a campaign with the idea to shine a purple light in memory of those victims lost to domestic violence and in support of those who have survived it.


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