A new program developed by Willow Place hopes to challenge misconceptions and provide deeper understandings of family and gender-based violence. 

Willow Place, in partnership with the province and other community stakeholders, has created a self-directed training program. Challenge for Change will be free for civil service members and up to 1,500 other people.

“The Challenge for Change project was undertaken to support, align and mobilize efforts to change the current rates of family and gender-based violence,” Lesley Lindberg, project manager for the Challenge for Change project, says.

Front-line workers from Manitoba Families, including Indigenous and newcomer services, partnered to create the course.

“This online training has been designed to challenge commonly held misconceptions, provide a deeper understanding of the issue and offer resources to anyone who may encounter someone experiencing it."

Willow Place is a Winnipeg-based family violence organization. They have shelters, a 24-hour crisis line, and community services established, focussing on violence. 

They have been established since 2015 and are a member of the Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters (MAWS).

"We hope it will support our collective quest to end violence and oppression in all its forms.”

Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox says the province is providing $7,500 to the MAWS to allow for the 1,500 additional participants to take the training. Access to this can be given by emailing fvcourse@maws.mb.ca.

“As rates of family violence continue to rise as a result of COVID-19, it’s especially important to give frontline workers the tools they need to help protect Manitobans,” Cox says. “This course will help foster the listening skills and understanding needed to support survivors.”

The minister says family violence survivors often do not reach out for formal support but may share their stories with a caseworker, probation officer, nurse or employer.

For additional support, Manitobans can call 1-877-977-0007, text 204-792-5302 or 204-805-6682, or visit the provincial website. If it is an emergency, Manitobans can call 911 or their local police service.