Mississippi Mills mayor chairs gender-based violence discussion at ROMA conference

Mississippi Mills Mayor and ROMA Board Vice Chair, Christa Lowry, chaired a panel session, Responding to Gender Based Violence, January 22 at the 2024 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference. Pictured, from left: Brianna Luckasavitch, representing Lanark County Interval House and Community Support, Mayor Lowry, and panel speaker Pamela Cross, Advocacy Director with Luke’s Place. – Submitted photo

While at the 2024 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference held last week in Toronto, Mississippi Mills Mayor Christa Lowry chaired a panel discussion on gender based violence. It marked the first time the issue has been discussed at a large convening venue of municipal officials in Ontario.

The panel session, Responding to Gender Based Violence, included speakers Nadia Thomas, Director with the Criminal Law Division at the Ministry of the Attorney General; Nuzhat Jafri, Executive Director for the Canadian Council of Muslim Women; and Pamela Cross, Advocacy Director for Luke’s Place.

In December 2022, Lanark County was the first to declare Intimate Partner Violence an epidemic. Over the past year, close to 100 municipalities, including Mississippi Mills, as well as the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Ontario Big City Mayors, have followed suit.

“Although this is not a new issue, we are in the early days of bringing Intimate Partner Violence/Gender Based Violence out from behind closed doors and into the light,” stated Mayor Lowry, who also serves as Vice Chair of the ROMA Board. “This is an everyone problem, and it will take all of us as allies, partners and advocates to bring action and real change.”

The goal of the session was to send home community leaders from across the province with tools and resources in their pockets to become allies, partners and to take action. Resources include:

  • Assistance for organizations to develop their own advocacy strategy and tools from Luke’s Place, a support and resource centre for women and children based in Oshawa: https://lukesplace.ca/ckw-inquest-toolkit/
  • The White Ribbon Campaign, the largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls: www.whiteribbon.ca/
  • Lanark County Interval House and Community Support’s See It, Name It, Change It Campaign: https://lcih.org/see-it-name-it-change-it/ “It is extremely important for these conversations to be had at all tables – community, political, and even at our dining room table. By talking about it, we are letting victims of violence know that we are here, we believe them, and we all have a responsibility to do something,” said Brianne Luckasavitch, Victim Advocate and Public Education Coordinator with Lanark County Interval House and Community Support. “The ‘See It, Name It, Change It’ campaign offers our community a safe place to learn about resources, tips and tools on how to end this epidemic. If we see violence and find out courage to name it, that is when we will see change. The change might not happen overnight, but we need to start somewhere. We applaud our community leaders who are moving this conversation on Gender Based Violence forward by welcoming survivors and experts to the table.” “There was a great turnout from my Mississippi Mills and Lanark County colleagues at the session. Our panelists informed and motivated us all, as community leaders, to be part of the solution and make our communities safer for everyone,” added Mayor Lowry. “I’d also like to acknowledge and thank an important ally, Brianne Luckasavitch with Lanark County Interval House and Community Support, for attending.” The 2024 ROMA Conference took place January 21-23 gathering nearly 1,900 municipal officials from across Ontario.

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