History of the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society
In 1979, a small group of dedicated women was inspired to open a rape crisis center to serve the Cowichan Valley. Though they came from diverse professional backgrounds and lacked the specific experience to do so, they forged ahead- writing grants, acquiring facilities, and educating themselves on the issue of violence against women.
Since those early years, CWAV Society has grown to offer comprehensive support to approximately 1,000 women and children in need in the Cowichan Valley every year, in the areas of crisis intervention, violence prevention, safe housing, legal advocacy, individual and group counselling, and pre-employment skills.
Today, A board of dedicated women governs the organization. The Society is affiliated with the BC Society of Transition Houses, and Ending Violence Association of British Columbia. Please take a moment to scroll through the timeline below, and enjoy learning about the important milestones in CWAV’s 45-year history in the Cowichan Valley.
The founding women's group works to open rape crisis centre. 3 year funding is acquired.
Now incorporated as a society, the first location called "The Birdhouse" opens with help from a grant from Employment and Immigration.
24-hour crisis line starts, run by one staff and a team of dedicated volunteers.
With support of the Ministry of the Attorney General, new sexual assault location opens on Kenneth St.
Society lobbies for sexual abuse prevention programs in the Cowichan School District and begins offering self- defense classes.
Plans to open Somenos Transition House begin, a place to support women and children leaving abusive situations. “Somenos” means “place of rest” in the local Hul'qumi'num language.
Somenos House opens in March
Somenos House begins providing Child and Family Counselling
Native Education program begins through support of Health and Welfare Native and Northern Affairs Funds. Victim Assistance contract is awarded from Attorney General.
Stopping the Violence Counselling Program receives initial funding for long-term counselling for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Programming expands with the addition of:
The Children Who Witness Abuse Program (CWWA), The Horizons Pre-Employment program, Cowichan Valley Safety Audit Pilot Project
The society is renamed from the Cowichan Rape Assault Society to Cowichan Women Against Violence Society.
Safer Futures becomes an ongoing program, focusing on community and social development initiatives.
Safer Futures leads a three year provincial initiative on women and community safety in BC. Safer Futures and CWAV embark upon school programming in the form of Students Against Violence Everywhere project at Frances Kelsey School.
In response to changes in funding, Somenos house and WAVAW work together to ensure the continuation of the 24-hour crisis line.
Cowichan is recognized for its leadership in Safer Community Planning and selected as one of six communities to develop a Comprehensive Community Safety Initiative sponsored by Safer Futures.
Somenos House pays off its mortgage, laying a solid foundation for the future, building stability and permanence for the staff, residents and the Society.
Government announces major restructuring that will see Somenos, STV and CWWA counselling transferred to the Office of Housing and Construction Standards, Ministry of Housing and Social Development.
CWAVS receives a grant from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General to create a Domestic Violence Co-ordination Program that helps develops specialized support and court protocols for victim safety.
Ministry of Justice funds CWWA, STV and Community Based Victim Services.
Civil Forfeiture grants fund a Violence is Preventable (WAVAW) group in schools and the Domestic Violence Highest Risk Protocol for policy development. It also funds two Safer Futures projects; Youth Safety Dialogues and Safe Youth Advocacy.
WAVAW gets funding for “Challenging Our Assumptions: Strategies for Working with Women Who Use Violence in Intimate Relationships
Safer Futures receives funding from UBC for it Kloshe Tillicum project and a three year grant from the Vancouver Foundation for its Inviting Voice, Creating Space project. Status of Women Canada funds a two-year project on Youth Safety.
In 2013, Canadian Women’s Foundation funds Strengthening Parenting groups for one year and provides four-year funding for a Teen Healthy Relationship program.
Safer Futures receives a Civil Forfeiture grant and a grant from the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation for “Youth Stand Up: Preventing Youth Involvement in Street Violence and Harassment.”
December of 2018 CWAV Society receives approval from North Cowichan Regional District to open a Women's Emergency Shelter at the site of the old consession stand at 2003 University Way, Duncan.