Funding for Xolhemet will continue women's empowerment

Women's Empowerment Group is one of Xolhemet Society's programs with a cultural approach to dealing with the aftermath of domestic violence

It's a program that helps abused women in Chilliwack gain their power back.

The Xolhemet Society has been running its Women's Empowerment Group for eight years, and the group just received word of a $25,000 boost from the province to keep it going.

It's one of 24 projects receiving $1.5 million to either launch or expand services, part of the three-year Provincial Domestic Violence Plan, which is two years old this week.

Xolhemet runs a shelter for woman and children in Chilliwack called Wilma’s Transition House, and a second-stage housing program for woman that houses families for up to two years.

Women's Empowerment Group is one of Xolhemet's programs with a cultural approach to dealing with the aftermath of domestic violence, said Xolhemet Society executive director Kathleen Mosa.

"Our programs are run with the help of grants and donations, so this funding is pretty important," said Mosa.

The Empowerment Group participants use the traditional medicine wheel, as well as drumming sessions, creating vision boards and family crafts, all guided by cultural teachings with the help of a group facilitator.

A ceremony for the program grads from the Empowerment group was also aided by the presence of Soowahlie members last year, she said.

"We were also able to have some of our past residents of second stage housing continue on with this Empowerment Group, even after they left, along with residents of the Transition House."

This provincial grant will help cover costs like child care, supplies and staffing for Women's Empowerment.

Successful applicants, like Xolhemet in this case, were chosen by representatives from the Minister's Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women, the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence and the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and the Ministry of Justice.

"This funding will greatly benefit the Xolhemet Society and the women and children who receive support from the organization," said John Martin, MLA for Chilliwack, in a release. "It will provide funding to the Society to expand the excellent services it currently provides to Aboriginal women will continue to help reduce domestic violence in our community."

It is considered critical because First Nations women and their children are more likely to be "directly affected" by domestic violence, than other groups in B.C.

"In fact, Aboriginal women are nearly three times more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence than non-Aboriginal women," according to the news release.

In 2013, there were 12,359 police-reported victims of intimate partner violence across B.C. But only about one in four women ever report it to police.

To read the Provincial Domestic Violence Plan from the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence, visit:

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