What can we say about 2020 that hasn’t already been said? The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant changes to the way we work, interact, and think about our programs. In March 2020, Alberta went into a lockdown that required organizations to limit or stop providing service. During this time, individuals across the province had to isolate themselves at home with people who use abuse, and organizations were thrown into a tailspin while they tried to navigate this new world.
A “shadow pandemic”
appeared that resulted
in a 30 percent
increase in domestic violence
rates across the world.
A “shadow pandemic” appeared that resulted in a 30 percent increase in domestic violence rates across the world. This shadow pandemic of abuse not only added pressure to our sector, but also forced Sagesse to move quicker, think more innovatively, and solve larger problems than it had ever faced before.
This pandemic has highlighted exactly how quickly domestic and sexual violence rates can rise in times of stress. It has made it very clear how much stronger we are when we work collectively to solve complex problems.
As citizens, team members, and employers, we have had to respond in unprecedented ways to keep our families, colleagues, and fellow citizens safe, connected, healthy and productive. We have been on the ground—coordinated, adaptable, focused—responding to urgent needs and steeling ourselves for the long, difficult road ahead. As this pandemic has struck at the very nature of our connection to one another, we have found new ways to strengthen our relationships and programs.
This year highlighted the importance of our core values. Our commitment to Courage, Vulnerability, Curiosity, and Trusting in the Messiness allowed Sagesse to quickly assess our new situation and make changes to our programs, our service delivery, and work structure. Our ability to respond to the global pandemic – quickly and effectively – is a direct result of the successful strategy we have embraced for three decades.
This year’s annual report highlights the importance of innovative thinking to tackle large obstacles and thrive in turmoil.
Early in the pandemic, the United Nations began to discuss a “shadow pandemic” as gender-based violence “surged alarmingly” as a result of lockdown measures to contain the virus.
In 2020, Sagesse was able to adapt quickly, tackle complex problems, and look at how we could improve and pivot. This let us swiftly move to a world of online programming.
We stepped into our role as a backbone organization for the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective and IMPACT by finding solutions to key issues that were occurring across the province.
Our volunteers undertook additional training as we moved all our in-person programming to virtual spaces. Our volunteers stepped up to make sure our participants felt connected in an online world.
One way to prevent violence is to increase understanding of abuse. In 2020, we worked tirelessly to have conversations about coercive control, domestic violence, and the issues related to this complex problem.
Our audited 2020 financials are now available.
OUTCOMES THAT MATTER
Sagesse outcomes and outputs are guided by our agency Theory of Change.
DONORS, SPONSORS & FUNDERS
Your donations, both monetary and in-kind, have allowed us to expand and scale our programs to create substantial impact for those affected by violence.
“Reported incidences of violence
against women and girls
by civil society organizations
have absolutely skyrocketed,”
UN Trust Fund to
End Violence against Women
Early in the pandemic, the United Nations began to discuss a “shadow pandemic” as gender-based violence “surged alarmingly” as a result of lockdown measures to contain the virus. It recently declared that continued restrictions are “still driving increased violence against women and girls,” highlighting an urgent need to support the work of women’s rights organizations and recognize their place in COVID-19 response and reopening plans.
Gender-based violence often surges in stressful situations, such as economic crashes and natural disasters because “the risk factors are exacerbated.” This unprecedented crisis brings unprecedented challenges.
This ‘shadow pandemic’ was also witnessed in Alberta. As public health officials mandated lockdowns to prevent the spread or ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19, they were also introducing additional risk to the public for domestic violence. People who are impacted by violence typically wait until they are alone or away from the perpetrator before they seek help. This was not possible with pandemic lockdowns in place. Due to this additional challenge, Sagesse worked hard to increase access to online resources, informational campaigns, and informal supports such as friends and coworkers.
Domestic and sexual violence is an epidemic in our province and needs to be treated as such. In order to change this, we need to try things that have never been tried. This year highlighted, more than ever, this issue is too big to be ignored.
A collective response is the only way we will get through this pandemic.
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With innovation as our programming cornerstone, we have worked for years to ensure our organization is able to adapt quickly, ready to tackle complex problems, and willing to take a look at how we can improve. In 2020, this innovative approach allowed Sagesse to adapt and pivot, swiftly moving to an online programming world.
When Alberta went into its first lockdown in March 2020, our team started working together to find ways to shift our peer programming to an online environment while still protecting the privacy, confidentiality, and safety of our clients. We wanted programs to be easily accessible and available to our clients while still providing them quality programming. Within one week, we had new protocols in place, were training our volunteer facilitators for their new online roles, and providing virtual programs to our clients.
We not only created and delivered enhanced programs, but we also expanded our reach in communities across Alberta. These online programs were not only safe, but they also opened the doors for more people in remote and rural areas to participate.
While our programs moved to an online environment, we maintained a skeleton staff in the physical office to offer in-person support to anyone who needed a face-to-face interaction.
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Our Real Talk workshops allow people to rethink the norms, attitudes, perspectives, and definitions surrounding domestic and sexual abuse and learn how to offer support. This is the first step to prevention.
Real Talk is a customized workshop that teaches participants to recognize domestic violence, understand its impact on an individual and the community, and develop comfort in responding to domestic violence disclosures, including providing appropriate support and referrals to services. To help people recognize and respond to domestic violence in their own lives, we started offering online Real Talk workshops to the general public in March. These online workshops allowed us to reach a broad audience across remote and rural areas in Alberta as well as cities outside our province.
Being an informal supporter for someone experiencing or using abuse can be emotionally and mentally exhausting.
This is why we created a new program called Stand By. Stand By is a drop-in session that provides an open format for informal and formal supporters to talk to Sagesse facilitators and others about their experiences of supporting people and the challenges that can come with it such as knowing what to say, setting boundaries, comfort in supporting people and the importance of self-care. This casual setting allowed individuals to come together to discuss experiences, ask questions, and provide encouragement, assistance, and relief.
During the pandemic, informal supports became more important than ever. While people were isolated at home with their abusers, it was increasingly important that their friends, family members, and coworkers were able to check in on them to make sure they were okay.
Our aim is to lessen the stigma surrounding domestic violence so that it’s safe for people experiencing it to share their story, and to empower Albertans to help break the cycle of domestic violence by providing the skills needed to have those conversations.
In the role as a backbone, we responded to unprecedented times in unprecedented ways. In March 2020, Alberta went into a lockdown that required organizations to limit or stop providing service. Organizations across our sector were thrown into a tailspin while they tried to navigate this new world.
We stepped into our role as a backbone organization for the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective and IMPACT by taking the lead to determine member needs and find solutions to key issues that were occurring across the province. Throughout the pandemic, in addition to our ongoing support to these collective impact initiatives, Sagesse also supported members by:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
In the early weeks of the shutdown, IMPACT members expressed a need for personal protective equipment (PPE) among non-emergency frontline service providers. Our staff responded by making connections with Alberta-based distributors to gather the requested items for distribution, including masks, gowns, hand sanitizer and soap to agencies that requested them. This was a colossal task in terms of needs assessment, consultation, coordination, and distribution.
We created a member newsletter, which was distributed weekly at the height of the shutdowns and switched to biweekly in July. Informally, CDVC and IMPACT members have reported that the content has been very useful and many have been sharing the information among their own networks.
We developed briefing notes, compendiums, and process documents to support organizations in their pandemic response.
We offered virtual sessions on a variety of important topics (offered via Zoom). The 1-hour virtual sessions offered valuable access to resources, training, information and services for communities and individuals that are geographically disparate and isolated.
We ran a province-wide campaign was run with pharmacists and pharmacies to raise awareness about domestic violence. It allowed pharmacists to act as an entry point for those experiencing domestic violence, especially during the lockdown when very few businesses were open. Signs, as seen on the right, were posted in pharmacies to provide local support numbers and also a code word to use to let the pharmacist know if an individual needed help.
Our 2020 collective impact initiatives were courageous and bold. In addition to COVID-19 support, work began on a Primary Prevention framework, which will address key social and economic determinants of domestic and sexual violence and support provincial momentum in a consolidated and sustained way through evidence-informed policy, coordinated action, and appropriate resource allocation. Together, we can—and we will—rebuild the place we live, transforming it into the one we envision: a home free of violence.
This year, our volunteers undertook additional training and moved swiftly along with Sagesse as we moved all our in-person programming to virtual spaces. Our volunteers not only stepped up to make sure our programs were still meeting our high standards, but also that our participants felt connected in an online world.
These volunteers also provided technical support and daily notes in our collective impact training sessions.
It is because of our volunteers we can continue making impact on domestic violence across Alberta.
At Sagesse, we believe that one of the ways to prevent violence before it starts is to raise awareness and understanding of abuse. In 2020, we worked tirelessly to find new ways to further conversations about coercive control, domestic violence, and the issues related to this complex problem.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of
naming the behaviors that we see,
for example: It seems like your
partner is controlling you
and you’re not able to be on the
phone with me anymore, what’s going on?
Are you okay?”
In February, we worked with a Calgary-based Theatre company, Handsome Alice, during their theatrical run of Between Us. This play explored the lives of William and Anna, a match seemingly made in heaven, throughout the progression of their relationship. The play explored the question “why doesn’t she leave?” and the idea of coercive control. Audiences were invited to stay after the play each night to participate in discussions facilitated by Sagesse, in order to further the conversation about coercive control and connect the community with resources.
Sagesse also took part in a variety of media interviews throughout the year. These included:
Sagesse outcomes and outputs are guided by our agency Theory of Change:
When processes of deconstruction and reconstruction are curated and facilitated, then people, organizations, communities, and systems are empowered to heal, leverage knowledge, and foster relationships in order to disrupt the structures of violence.
In 2020, our budget stayed static. This stable funding during the pandemic allowed us to meet the growing needs of our clients and communities in which we serve. The Statement of Financial Position reports assets of $1,476,446. The Statement of Operations shows an excess of $105,432 for the year. At the end of the year, Sagesse had sufficient cash balances to meet liabilities.
As we aim to have a larger collective impact, our appreciation for your generous contributions to our work grows. Your donations, both monetary and in-kind, have allowed us to expand and scale our programs to create a substantial impact for those affected by violence. It is your various forms of support that allow Sagesse to thrive and grow our team of experts to help reach our goals.
DONORS AND FUNDERS
Aqueduct Foundation Gillis Family
Calgary Flames Limited Partnership
City Of Calgary – FCSS
Government of Alberta
Government of Canada
Ilana Krygier Lapides
Kanovsky Family Foundation
Lillian Dawn Horn
Mount Royal University
Tammy Lynn Williams
Aesop Chinook Centre
Barre Belle Calgary
Billy Rae Busby
Calgary Folk Fest
Centre for Chiropractic & Sports Rehabilitation
Colleen’s Joyful Art
Diva Direct Inc.
Energy Continuum Healing
Gillain Bow Valley
Glamour Studios Henna
Heal Thyne Self
Hillberg & Burk
Hot Shop Spin / Yoga
Infused Glass Works
Joanne Black Makeup
Jubilations Dinner Theatre
Kensington Wine Market
Loose Moose Theatre
Metta Yoga Calgary
Milk Jar Candle Company
Moonstone Creation (Yvonne Jobin)
Original Joe’s – Kensington
Paul VanGinkel Gallery
Pepper Hair Haus
Pet Project YYC
Pinao Massage Therapy
Pomeroy Kananaskis Lodge
Resolve Legal Group
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies
RnR Wellness Spa
Royal Tyrell Museum
Russ Scullen & Lisa Wong
Sandman Signature Downtown
Silas & Ivy Jewlery Collective
So Fetch Pups
Soul Dance Productions
The Apothecary in Inglewood
The Brow Studio
The Hangar Flight Museum
Thrive Custom Herbals
Tier One Travel
Vered Amir Make-up Artistry
Vintage Soul Wellness
W. Chan Investments
Webster Galleries Inc.
Wise Scheible Barkauskas