Manitoba

'They love getting these handmade cards': Men making valentine cards sent to women's shelters

For the third consecutive year, a group of men and boys in Winnipeg will be putting their card-making skills to work this weekend, in an effort to help women in shelters feel less lonely on Valentine's Day.

'It's really important that men are having conversations about domestic violence,' says Murat Ates

For the third year in a row, Murat Ates is organizing a men's card-making event to send messages of love to women in shelters. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

For the third consecutive year, a group of men and boys in Winnipeg will be putting their card-making skills to work this weekend, in an effort to help women in shelters feel less lonely on Valentine's Day.

Organizers of the Stitching Hearts movement will send the Valentine's Day cards to different women's shelters across Canada and the United States.

Murat Ates, a hockey writer covering the Winnipeg Jets for The Athletic, started the men's card-making event, despite a self-described lack of artistic talent.

"I was a bit intimidated. I wanted a space where I felt good being bad at art, but acknowledging that we can do something good and get more men involved," Ates said.

Jets fans who follow him on Twitter have really come to support the event, he said.

"Hockey Twitter has really embraced it — people through hockey who have known me but didn't know about the event. Now, they're interested," he said.

Over the last few week, he said he has crossed paths with a lot of people who have experienced domenstic violence whether it be their loved ones or people they know. 

Meg Crane, the founder of Stitching Hearts, started delivering the cards to women at Siloam Mission a few years ago.

We get a lot of cards with really good jokes, tons of good animal puns and a lot of inspiring quotes.- Meg Crane, Stitching Hearts founder

The cards come with a light-hearted message in an effort to boost morale for women who are alone during Valentine's Day.

"We get a lot of cards with really good jokes, tons of good animal puns and a lot of inspiring quotes," Crane said.

The cards come with a light-hearted message in an effort to boost morale for women in shelters who are alone during Valentine's Day. (CBC)

A morale boost 

In the first year, Crane and her movement sent out 337 cards in Winnipeg. In the second year, the project sent a total of 1,400 cards across the country. The following years, about 2,000 cards annually have been mailed to shelters in North America.

The responses to the cards has been everything Crane could ask for.

They love getting these handmade cards and knowing someone is thinking of them.- Crane

"The adults and the children are a bit overwhelmed. It really helped give them a boost that day," she said.

"They love getting these handmade cards and knowing someone is thinking of them."

Conversation is integral

When the men walk into the event on Saturday, Ates wants the discussion in the room to be open and create a comfortable atmosphere.

"If people are 'soft' and cry, that's cool. If they're mad about how Patrik Laine is playing and want to debate that, that's OK too," he said.

Men are disproportionately the perpetrators, so organizing a men's event is a small act of restoration. - Murat Ates, a hockey writer at The Athletic

"I've been surprised by the amount of people in the hockey community who have stories to tell and the desire to share why they want to help out." 

With men largely responsible for domestic violence, Ates believes having the conversation is integral to understand the lasting effect domestic violence has on people. 

"Men are disproportionately the perpetrators, so organizing a men's event is a small act of restoration," said Ates.

"I think that's meaningful."

Meg Crane, the founder of Stitching Hearts, started delivering the cards to women at Siloam Mission in Winnipeg a few years ago. (CBC)

Change 'starts at home'

Crane calls the support by men in Winnipeg a sign of change.

"I have a lot of men come to my events, and they don't know what to do, or how to make the cards," she said.

"I think it's really important that men are having conversations about domestic violence."

The many men who have reached out to Ates wanting to participate say they're not coming alone.

"It's meaningful that parents want to come and have conversations with their sons. It's that kind of generational change that reduces and helps end domestic violence," Ates said.

"Any important social change is a generational one. It starts at home. It starts with families."

The card-making event takes place at The Good Will Social Club on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT.