4BRANT #CommunityJournalism

Brantford celebrates International Women’s Day

By Sharlene Schmidt

Emily* chose to wear polka dots on the runway, because her mother loved them.

She chose a look reminiscent of the movie, Pretty Woman, because she could identify with a woman refusing to let her life’s circumstances define her.

As she climbed the steps of the stage to strut her stuff on the Closet Couture Boutique Runway of Inspiration, she felt the flames of phoenix rising on her wings.

She was still here. She had survived domestic violence and was now thriving.

On March 8 2018, Nova Vita Domestic Violence Prevention Services held its International Women’s Day event at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Centre in Brantford.

The evening featured a wine wall, silent auction and a sit down dinner.

Keynote speaker Tonia Jahshan, founder of Steeped Tea and a Dragon’s Den success story shared her story.

The evening was bittersweet as attendees joined Nova Vita staff and volunteers in celebrating how far women have come – and the painful reminder that women still have so far to go.

According to Statistics Canada, six women are killed by their intimate partner every day in our country and spousal violence itself costs Canadians $7.4 billion a year.

Nova Vita is the only shelter serving abused families in Brantford and County of Brant, and relies heavily on community donations to continue providing safety and support to the hundreds of people who walk through the doors every year.

Those in need can access emergency housing, free counselling, transitional support and connections to other community resources.

Nova Vita is one of the only shelters in the country that offers a men’s or perpetrator’s program. This holistic family-centered approach to healing is what defines prevention.

Ann Ruddell, events coordinator for Nova Vita said the community showed its support for the agency, which celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2018 by raising more than $24,000.

The fashion show ended the evening, leaving people with a good feeling because it featured a diverse group of models who support Nova Vita.

* names have been changed to protect privacy

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