45 Years of Service


International Women’s Year


A core group of 4-6 Status of Women group begins to talk about rape crisis work with the goal being to open a rape crisis centre. The women take training at Victoria and Nanaimo  Rape Relief. 

During International Women’s Year, receive three-year project funding to run a women’s centre in the Cowichan Valley Even before the centre is established, women receive calls at their homes through word of mouth.
Crisis line begins operating on a limited basis. Although the group intend the focus to be rape crisis work, battered women also come to the centre.


With grant from Employment and Immigration, first staff hired. Office located in the “Bird House” behind Mental Health. Group incorporates as a society.


In July, 24-hour crisis line starts with one staff and a number of volunteers.


Society moves to an apartment above Volume One Bookstore on Kenneth Street. Receives contract with Ministry of the Attorney-General as Sexual Assault Centre. Second staff hired.


Society lobbies for sexual abuse prevention programs in the School District. Offers self- defence classes.


Four members attend Winnipeg Conference “Counselling Survivors of Sexual Abuse”, a Women’s Health Fair, and “Growing Up with Children” conference.


A sub-committee within WAVAW plans the women’s transition house, Somenos House. Somenos House is a place primarily for battered women and their children. “Somenos” means “place of rest” in the local Hul’qumi’num language.


Somenos House opens in March with three staff.


Somenos adds Child and family Counsellor


Health and Welfare, Native and Northern Affairs funds Native Education Project. Receive Victim Assistance contract from Attorney General. Add half a staff – now at 2 ½ staff. 


Gamble and increase staff to 3. Job development project trains 4 women. Somenos House and WAVAW move.


Stopping the Violence Counselling Program received initial funding for long-term counselling for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.


The Children Who Witness Abuse (CWWA), a counselling program for children who have witnessed others being physically assaulted and/or emotionally abused is established. 

The Horizons Pre-Employment program for women who have been in abusive relationships starts with the aim of helping participants explore life skills, employability skills and personal development.
Cowichan Valley Safety Audit Pilot Project (Lake Cowichan) started in October. The Safety Audit Project received further funding to study Mill Bay and Cobble Hill. These safety audits are the early beginnings of our Safer Futures program. 

Women In Need Growing Stronger (W.I.N.G.S.) Thrift Store, a society owned Social Enterprise opens in November.


Major structural changes occur as the Society moved from a committee-based, consensus-decision making structure to a feminist-based yet more traditional hierarchy.


Society name changed from the Cowichan Rape Assault Society to Cowichan Women Against Violence Society. CWAVS is the legal name for the organization that is comprised of five programs: WAVAW, Somenos House, Horizons, Children Who Witness Abuse and W.I.N.G.S. Thrift Store. 

Setting Sails Program began. Setting Sails was similar to Horizons, however, the participants had to be under the age of thirty.
The Society offices moved from Kenneth St. to Station St. in the ‘old Eaton’s building.’


Somenos House begins undergoing major renovations. During this period, the house became wheelchair accessible with an outside ramp to the house and indoor changes to the main floor, the kitchen was restructured, a covered outdoor family room was added, two new offices were added to the side of the house and a wood gazebo was built in the yard. Numerous paint jobs, furniture and appliance purchases were made, along with an 8-passenger van and security features.


CWAVS wins a provincial Building a Safer Future Award for organizational excellence in the field of anti-violence work. 

Safer Futures presents at the provincial UBCM conference with the Cowichan Valley Regional District on women’s safety audits. 

CWAV transfers ownership of WINGS II Thrift Store to a supporter Petra Bruckbauer. WINGS continues to support agency programs and clients.


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 CWAVS embark upon school programming in the form of Students Against Violence Everywhere project at Frances Kelsey School. 

CWAVS offices moves to our current location at 255 Ingram Street.
Safer Futures begins a regional initiative on Safer Community Planning and Neighbourhood Action.


In June, Horizons loses its funding from the Ministry of Aboriginal, Community and Women’s Services. Its future seems uncertain.
Through an RFP process, in August, along with 11 other B.C. communities, Horizons is awarded a three year contract with Ministry of Employment and Income Services.

Horizons holds a reunion of past graduates of its program.
The Specialized Victim Assistance Program is renamed Community Based Victim Assistance Program. Mandate is expanded to include court support for child victims. 

The Provincial government cuts funding to Sexual Assault Centres throughout BC, resulting in cessation of government funding for our local crisis line and crisis counselling for survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence. As a result, WAVAW cuts two staff counsellors and reorganizes the remaining positions to respond to the change in mandate. 

Somenos House and WAVAW work together to share the operation of the Crisis Line so that we could continue to provide 24-hour service to the Cowichan Valley. 

SFD (Students for Diversity) Project collaboration with Cowichan Secondary commence.


The James St./Alexander area neighbourhood planning initiative with North Cowichan, Safer Futures and Cowichan Family Life Association continues to be innovative in its consultation with area residents about what they want to see developed within their own neighbourhoods.
CWAVS partners with Central Vancouver Island Crisis Society to provide back-up on our crisis line at times when our staff are busy and not able to answer calls. This ensures that people in need of support get it in a timely and efficient manner and ensures that our crisis line is a true 24-hour 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. 

Horizons receives an extension in funding to August, 2007.
School District #79 and CWAVS collaboration begins at Quamichan Middle School and Cowichan Secondary entitled Respectful Relationships Trainings. 

Malaspina University-College partners with CWAVS on a pilot project for a 3-month Women’s Writing Program, culminating in the publication of the collected materials. 

The Planning Ourselves In II Project, in collaboration with local government, commences in the Alexander/Beverley Street neighbourhood. 

Service Canada funds the Cairnsmore Neighbourhood Project youth and community development initiative.


March 2007, Safer Futures goes from a staff of four to one. Staff increases to 2 in 2008. 

Funding for Somenos, STV Counselling and CWWA Counselling comes through Ministry of Community Services. 

Horizons provides Bridging Employment Program (BEP) through the Ministry of Housing and Social Development.


Major 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.


Funding for transition houses transfers from the Ministry of Housing and Social Development to BC Housing Corp. 

Three Strengthening Families groups are funded annually by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. 

Children Who Witness Violence is partially funded through MCFD. Cowichan United Way funds the remainder of the program.


Ministry of Justice funds CWWA, STV and Community Based Victim Services. 

Horizons becomes as sub-contractor to Global Vocational Services Inc. as the provincial and federal governments move to a privatized employment services model.


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 received 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. 

Somenos replaces upgrades the windows, its electrical system and its heating system with a high efficiency gas furnace and a heat pump as well as heat pumps for all bedrooms. Outside of the house is repainted. A carpenter ant infestation requires the removal of a wall and replacement of a beam.


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.