Ian Wheeliker, Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter executive director, has taken a new position with Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Wheeliker to continue to impact Red Deer women’s shelter

New provincial role for Red Deer shelter executive

Ian Wheeliker will be soon be collecting and analyzing data to impact shelters across Alberta as the new director of programs and member services with Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters.

Wheeliker is leaving his position as executive director at Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES) at the end of May and will be at a desk at the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) in Edmonton on June 18.

Wheeliker’s new provincial role means he will continue to shape the work of the Red Deer shelter.

“The data work is critical to the future of all shelters. Government funding is based on outcomes and results for clients,” Wheeliker said.

Programs he will work on to improve shelter services include gathering best practices and making them available to Alberta shelters. Initiated two years ago by Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, Safety from Domestic Violence project also recognizes the need to evolve collaboration between shelters, police, other government agencies and stakeholders.

Leading Change is another ACWS program that focuses on engaging men and boys to take a stand against violence against women.

Wheeliker, who was CAWES’ executive director for 11 years, said being part of such a forward organization made his time at CAWES enjoyable.

One of the highlights was developing the Children’s Trauma Centre at the shelter, he said.

“We were doing very good work in the shelter, especially with the women we were serving. We knew we could do more with the kids.”

The trauma centre provides children with a safe nurturing environment to share their distress, learn healthy behaviour, develop positive self-esteem and learn about family violence. Children can receive individual and group support and counselling, including SNOEZELEN multi-sensory therapies, and participate in recreational activities and outings.

He said the groundwork was also completed to get ready for a new shelter building. All that’s needed is the funding.

“We really need to expand the number of spaces that we have available. We’re just not able to meet the clients’ demands, or needs, and we’re not able to house all of our staff within our current facility. We ran out of office space.”

CAWES has also been involved in a project to recognize and assist clients with past traumas impacting their lives. In the past the shelter did not recognize issues like addiction or mental health problems as related to abuse.

“We need to figure out a way to provide services women who have been most traumatized,” Wheeliker said.


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