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Three municipalities join network to help victims of domestic violence

The municipalities of Dundee, Howick and Très-Saint-Sacrement are taking a stand against domestic violence.

All three have partnered with Commerces-Secours to join the network of local businesses and organizations offering a welcoming haven where victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or abuse can go to access support.

Dundee’s mayor, Linda Gagnon, says the initiative started with a suggestion by director general Marc Michot that the municipality do something about violence against women. “We were looking for something that was already organized and structured,” she explains. Fortunately, the two soon found themselves in a meeting that included a presentation on the Commerces-Secours program. “We jumped at the chance!” she exclaims.

A Commerces-Secours sticker is now displayed in the front window of the town hall, and all municipal employees have received awareness training so they can welcome and reassure victims while directing them to a designated space in the building equipped with a telephone and appropriate resources. Those working in the post office housed in the same building have received the same training.

“It is important,” says the mayor, who notes the municipality has previously dealt with incidences related to domestic violence. “We are very isolated,” she admits, while suggesting that because the town hall, post office, and municipal park are all located in the same space, victims will be able to come without raising suspicion. “Citizens have been reacting very, very positively,” she confirms.

 

Dundees director general Marc Michot and Mayor Linda Gagnon far right met with Stéphanie Toupin and Sonia Viau from Résidence Elle on May 16 at the town hall The municipality is now part of the Commerces Secours network offering safety and support to victims of domestic violence PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

Sonia Viau, a support worker with Résidence-Elle du Haut-Saint-Laurent, which is a partner organization with Commerces-Secours, says their goal is to have an affiliated location in each municipality. She says strategic locations such as the town hall in Dundee, as well as those in Howick and Très-Saint-Sacrement, are very important. “If a victim goes to ask for help and is turned away, she won’t seek help again,” she explains, highlighting the importance of the awareness training provided by Commerce-Secours partner organizations.

The network now includes at least nine businesses and organizations across the Vaudreuil-Soulages region, as well as Beauharnois-Salaberry, and the Haut-Saint-Laurent. According to Viau, Commerces-Secours has seen a spike in new member organizations following the March 14 launch of its new website and branding. She says they have received around ten new requests from businesses and organizations in the Vaudreuil area, and at least five located in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.

Gagnon says she is hopeful that more municipalities in the Haut-Saint-Laurent will follow Dundee’s lead and join the network.

For more information on the Commerces-Secours network, contact Sonia Viau at rellesensibilisation@hotmail.com.

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