Low-income friendly public transit missing: OSHS

Vanderhoof’s vulnerable women need an affordable public transit system, says the safe home society.

Vanderhoof’s vulnerable women need an affordable public transit system, says the safe home society.

The Joy Aitkens Safe Home has received $10,000 of funding earlier this year, as part of the provincial government’s second- and third-year commitments under its three-year $5.5-million Provincial Domestic Violence Plan to provide direct services for Aboriginal children, youth and families in rural and remote communities.

“While we are always grateful for help moving women and children to safety and bringing women into town for groups, counseling, and outreach services,” said Lynne Stuart, director of the Omineca Safe Home Society. “We feel that a safe, convenient and affordable public transit system would help immensely.”

Stuart added, “In a community with no taxi or other transit, and buses that have reduced their routes and have long waits outside, women are still hitchhiking if they need to be somewhere over holidays or the weekends.”

The one-time grant has allowed the society to build on its existing outreach program, she said.

“It helps us bring women from rural areas in for counseling, groups, and outreach services,” Stuart said. “And cover the costs of outreach transportation as outreach workers take the women to court, lawyers appointments, etc.”

She said the funding assists with moving the society’s clients out of Vanderhoof when necessary as well.

“It helps us move women to other centers in other towns if they are feeling unsafe in their community….and move women to larger centers if affordable housing cannot be found here.”

She added that replacement costs for identification documents would also be covered by the funding, “if a woman has left quickly and is unable to take it with her, or it was lost or stolen.”

The Omineca Safe Home Society is one of several organizations in the region that have received the funding, as Fireweed Safe Haven in Fort St. James and Eagle’s Nest Transition House in Burns Lake also received $10,000 each to help with its services for remote communities.

“Our government recognizes that Aboriginal women and children, both on and off reserve, reflect a large percentage of British Columbians who are affected by domestic violence and other crimes,” Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad said. “This funding will help Aboriginal women and children access the supports and services they need to help prevent violence and escape from situations and recover if they have been victims of crime.”