Women's violence awareness project goes broke

P.E.I.'s Silent Witness project, which aims to stop violence against women, is down to its last $131, says the program co-ordinator.
The Silent Witnesses were at a ceremony at Holland College in Charlottetown Monday morning. ((CBC))

P.E.I.'s Silent Witness project, which aims to stop violence against women, is down to its last $131, says the program co-ordinator.

Eileen LeClair says she needs more funding to continue her work. It involves setting up community displays of 11 life-sized, red silhouettes — 10 representing women who were murdered, and one in memory of those whose killer has not yet been charged

"Each one is roughly the size that woman would have been. That's the space she occupied on the Earth," said LeClair.

P.E.I. Silent Witness women:

  • Ann Marie Perry Anderson
  • Chrystal Dawn Bearisto
  • Mary Louise Bernard
  • Kimberley Ann Byrne
  • Shirley Ann Duguay
  • Deborah Holmes
  • Carrie Ellen McMurrer
  • Elaine Edith Myers
  • Della Waddell
  • Mary Elizabeth Waite

She sets up the displays for schools, community groups and police training to keep people thinking about family violence. The project was funded by the Union of Public Sector Employees for the first seven years, but that support ended in August.

LeClair raises some money selling Silent Witness ribbons for $5. But she needs about $3,000 a year to continue doing a dozen presentations a year, at least half of those at schools.

She also needs money to make new silhouettes: at a cost of about $750 apiece, she has requests from the families of two murdered Island women.

LeClair has been asking the provincial government for funding for two years, but has not been successful.

Wendy Verhoek-Oftedahl, P.E.I.'s family violence prevention co-ordinator, would like more people to see the Silent Witness project, but believes in-kind donations from the community, not the government, are the answer.

"I think it really is important for the community to be together putting these silhouettes together," said Verhoek-Oftedahl.

The silhouettes were at Holland College in Charlottetown Monday morning as part of a ceremony marking the 21st anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.