A $10,000 grant from CN will fund a domestic violence prevention program in Abbotsford geared towards Punjabi-speaking immigrant men.
Courtyard for Men, offered by Archway Community Services, provides eight psycho-educational therapy group sessions in Punjabi with licensed counsellors who teach effective communication skills, coping skills for stress and the importance of boundaries.
Participants also learn couple conflict resolution and emotional resilience techniques.
“COVID-19 and the resulting economic stress and forced proximity have exacerbated already precarious family situations; women and children can find themselves at further risk of violence,” said Manpreet Grewal, director of Multicultural and Immigrant Integration Services at Archway.
“We had a desperate need to continue programming where men could voluntarily learn skills to manage their own behaviour to work towards healthier families. Help came through the benevolence of CN. We’re so grateful for their generous grant and recognizing the importance of preventative programming.”
Former BC premier Christy Clark, CN community board chair, agreed that the pandemic has led to an even greater need for such a program.
“Safety is a core value and this type of programming provides more people with the tools and mechanisms to feel safe,” she said.
Participants are referred through existing Archway programs and partner organizations if they are displaying inappropriate expressions of emotions during disagreements, using threats with family members or physical aggression.
“Because the participants have similar backgrounds they are able to better connect,” said Palwiner Gill, a counsellor at Archway and one of the previous group facilitators. “They often have the same values, family dynamics and cultural connections that they can relate to and learn from each other. It’s important to be able to offer services in Punjabi so they can fully participate in discussions.”
The Courtyard for Men program works with clients before they are in the criminal justice system, and participation is voluntary.
“Because participation is voluntary, we actually find high engagement in these sessions, which is heartwarming as they’re willing to learn and want a change,” said Manpreet Brar, program coordinator.
She said previous sessions saw noticeable results in the ability of participants to self-regulate and a decrease in abusive and violent behaviour. The program counsellors also stay in touch with family members to ensure their safety throughout the sessions.
“This group helped me realize that I could change what I do to have a better relationship with my wife and family,” said a client who wished to remain anonymous.
Courtyard for Men begins at the end of September. Those who are interested in signing up can contact Manpreet Brar at 604-743-0404 or Manpreet.firstname.lastname@example.org