The event will feature many expert perspectives, ranging from law enforcement professionals to the Indigenous community. Courtesy of UFV.

The event will feature many expert perspectives, ranging from law enforcement professionals to the Indigenous community. Courtesy of UFV.

Intimate partner violence to be focus of forum at UFV

Wide-ranging panel of speakers, in-depth discussion with audience to take place on Feb. 13

A forum focusing on domestic violence between intimate partners and featuring a wide range of perspectives will take place at the University of Fraser Valley on Thursday, Feb. 13.

The College of Arts and the Peace and Reconciliation Centre (PARC) at UFV have organized the event, called When Your Partner Abuses You: Practice, Prevention and Public Health Crisis of Intimate Partner Violence. The forum runs from 2:30 to 4:15 p.m. in room B101 at UFV’s Abbotsford campus.

The event was planned to coincide with the Missing Women’s Memorial March, which takes place every year on Feb. 14 in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. It was organized in partnership with UFV’s school of Criminology and Nursing, Oikodome Foundation, Abbotsford Crown Counsel office, Archway Community Services and Abbotsford Police Department.

“What we wanted to do was provide a panel of speakers who can talk about intimate partner violence from the various perspectives in their professional capacity,” said Shaheen Shivji, a lead co-ordinator of PARC. “Our vision is to be inclusive, supportive and offer a peaceful place for people to approach differences.”

Speakers at the event include: Grand Chief Clarence Pennier of the Sto:lo community; UFV’s director of criminology and criminal justice, Amanda McCormick; Abbotsford Crown counsel Indrani Mathure; Michele Giordano, the Abbotsford-Mission chair of Violence Against Women In Relationships; and UFV’s nursing faculty member, Catherine Smith.

The panel of speakers was selected specifically for their different, and sometimes competing, views on the topic.

“It’s reconciliation, ideally, [where] all the stakeholders or conflicting parties can come to a point where they co-exist and understand the differences and live with those differences,” Shivji said. “It’s a safe space.”

Shaheen Shivji and Alfred Okot Ochen, co-ordinators of the Peace and Reconciliation Centre at UFV. Photo courtesy of UFV.

The group will speak on a range of issues, such as the crisis on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the evolution of the criminal justice system’s response to intimate partner violence, the local approach to domestic abuse police files and third-party reporting and support services for abuse survivors. Other topics include the World Health Organization’s recognition of domestic abuse as a major public health concern, stalking, technology and strangulation assaults.

After the panel have finished their various presentations, an open dialogue between the audience and the speakers will take place for 45 minutes. Because of the sensitivity of the topic, counsellors will be on site to help anyone who has potentially suffered from emotional trauma relating to domestic abuse.

This is the first topic in three such forums to be organized by PARC. The other upcoming forums, whose topics have yet to be named, will take place by this fall.

“PARC was initially envisioned to bring together individuals, families, communities and all other cultures to engage in real-world problem-solving forums – which is why we’re doing this forum on domestic violence,” Shivji said. “The mandate for the centre is to focus on programs that deal with personal, relational and structural challenges in society.”

PARC is a fairly new department at UFV, having only started in the fall of 2019. An official launch of the department will also take place later in the year.

“We have hit the ground running because we want to create awareness in the community and university about what PARC is … Ultimately, the goal of developing such an initiative is for social change.”

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Indigenous reconcilliation