Representatives from EVA Renfrew County, which had standing at the June 2022 Inquest into the deaths of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam (CKW Inquest) made the 400km trip to Toronto to stand in solidarity and support of Mayor Olivia Chow’s motion at City Council to declare Intimate Partner Violence an epidemic in the City of Toronto.
Rural Lanark County, in Eastern Ontario, was the first municipality in Ontario to act on Recommendation #1 from the June 2022 Inquest and made the declaration of and IPV epidemic on December 14, 2022. Other rural regions followed, including of Renfrew County. And on March 8, 2023 to mark International Women’s Day, Ottawa City Council followed suit.
On July 20, 2023, following moving and personal remarks from Mayor Chow and other members of Council who also have lived experience with intimate partner violence, Toronto City Council joined the growing wave of municipalities to articulate the need to end gender-based violence and intimate partner violence as a public health emergency that requires a broad and systemic response from all levels of government.
The Province of Ontario completed its formal response to the Inquest recommendation in late June and rejected the call to make the declaration. Yet, as of today, almost 40 Ontario municipalities representing more than 50% of Ontario’s population have taken this step, with several other jurisdictions on the way.
The importance of this surge in awareness and support for the campaign to end gender-based violence could not be clearer: earlier this month, the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH) released a report confirming that Ontario has seen 30 femicides in 30 weeks. This gruesome statistic confirms what advocates and frontline service providers have known: this epidemic is real and very deadly.
Gender-based violence is a social problem rooted in misogyny- it is not a character flaw on the part of those who live with that violence. When we call it what it is: an epidemic and a public health emergency, we are telling women, children, gender-diverse folks and all those who live with gender-based violence, that what is happening to them is not their fault. It is our collective concern as a society, and meaningful solutions require engagement and leadership at a community level.
Erin Lee, Executive Director of Lanark County Interval House, and a member of the EVA Inquest Working Group stated: “Communities across this Province are leading with municipality after municipality joining the call to declare IPV an epidemic. It is only when we are able to see and name what is happening all around us every day that we can begin to create the change that survivors need and deserve.”
Goldblatt Partners has the honour to support EVA as it continues to carry the voice of survivors, and those who have been stolen from their loved ones by femicide. Survivors, families, advocates and service providers from Toronto, and Renfrew and across Ontario, are fully engaged in moving forward to implement the recommendations of the CKW Inquest and end IPV and GBV.
GP LLP lawyers, Kirsten Mercer & Mel Anderson, represented EVA Renfrew at the CKW Inquest and continue to work on advocacy efforts to support the implementation of the 86 Recommendations of the CKW Inquest.