Puppet shows, international foods and traditional dancing were all part of this past weekend’s Family Fun Fest in Red Deer.
The event was hosted by the Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association on Saturday night at Festival Hall.
“The Family Fest is a chance to get people together and acknowledge that November is Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” said Halima Ali, CAIWA executive director.
“At CAIWA our first clients are the kids. This event tonight is for the kids. That’s why we put on the Family Fun Fest.”
It’s important to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month to spread awareness, Ali said.
“We want everybody to feel safe – especially immigrants,” said Ali.
“We have a domestic violence program called SafeHome instead of saying domestic violence because when we say ‘safe homes’ everybody is more open to coming with their problems, if they need advice or if they are in a situation they need to escape.”
Education is key for newcomers arriving in Canada, Ali added.
“From the perspective of the immigrant community, it can take time for them to understand that some things that were OK at home are not OK in Canada,” she said.
“We want everyone to understand we are in a safe, free country and everybody has rights. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what gender you are, everybody has the right to live a healthy life. Organizations like CAIWA not only welcome them, but we also (assist) with their integration to help them understand what is the norm here.”
Ali said before coming to Canada, she didn’t understand how many forms of domestic violence existed.
“Domestic violence is not only physical, it’s also emotional. It can be neglect. It can be financial abuse,” she said.
“All of these are domestic violence. Even if someone is screaming at you or someone is smashing your stuff – it’s abuse.”
Red Deer RCMP officers attended the Family Fun Fest as guests on Saturday, Ali noted.
For more information on CAIWA, visit caiwa.ca.