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Purses pack encouragement and dignity for victims of violence

To commemorate Women’s History Month, Lori Belair-Boyle of Ormstown organized a purse drive. Named Everything but the Kitchen Sink – a nod to her partner’s jokes about her carrying everything but the kitchen sink in her purse – the initiative’s goal was to donate 100 purses filled with goods to women’s shelters around the Montérégie. Belair-Boyle achieved this and then some, surpassing her goal well before the end of the month.

The idea for the project came to Belair-Boyle because she wanted to get back to being involved with the community. “During the pandemic we weren’t able to do very much with regards to helping people; we felt very isolated,” she says. “I just felt like there was something local we could be doing, and I know that March is Women’s History Month, so I felt like this is something we could do very easily.” She launched the campaign by creating a list of items people could stock purses with, from makeup and other beauty supplies to practical items like period products and notebooks.

 

Lori Belair Boyle with a pile of full purses collected for her Everything but the Kitchen Sink campaign The stocked purses will be donated to regional womens shelters PHOTO Courtesy of Lori Belair Boyle

 

2020 saw a substantial increase in violence against women in Quebec, and it rose even higher in 2021. For this reason, the network of shelters across the province provides an important service. More than four Canadian women in 10 have experienced some form of intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetimes, according to Statistics Canada. Rates of IPV experienced by rural women are 75 per cent higher than urban women. And in 2020, one in five women murdered was First Nation, Métis, or Inuit.

Violence against women has been dubbed the “pandemic within the pandemic” in Quebec, and while the government has increased funding to the network of shelters, community aid and involvement is a key component to helping women escape IPV.

Belair-Boyle realizes that a purse may seem like a small contribution, but she also sees the value in giving things that aren’t just the bare necessities. “This is the perfect example of how we can do something, and we can have a positive impact, and we can uplift someone who might be struggling, and do it in a dignified way,” she says. She hopes other people will also think outside the box when contributing to their communities.

The purse campaign will be running until March 31, and those who want to contribute can contact Belair-Boyle at Sully1@ymail.com to arrange a pickup, to drop off items, or to donate funds towards the project. “I encourage people to think about creating community and creating outreach where it is about helping our neighbours,” she says, “and what a wonderful way to get to know our neighbours.”

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