Many sectors of the community have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, an already vulnerable sector of society has been negatively impacted even more by COVID-19. Over the last two years, there has been a marked increase in domestic violence.

Cochrane is fortunate to have the Big Hill Haven women’s shelter which works hard to help women and children who are affected by domestic violence.

Board Chair, Jenessa Blanchet provides a look back at 2021.

Blanchet confirms that it was another challenging year with the pandemic still with us. She says, “With AHS changing requirements that obviously impacts how we are able to help clients and how many people we can have in shelter and sort of how we have to pivot in terms of our services.” The bright side is that situation isn’t new, and they are getting good a pivoting.  

“Overall, it was a good year for Big Hill Haven,” says Blanchet and she admits that having some of the restrictions lifted this past summer was beneficial. “So, we were able to have one of our first in-person events in a while, so we had the Cruz-4-Her event which was a partnership with GM Cochrane and Cruz Cochrane and that was really wonderful to finally actually come together with community partners and people in person and celebrate and raise awareness,” That event raised over eight thousand dollars in donations. Blanchet says, they were also incredibly fortunate to be chosen as the primary beneficiary of the Rotary Tournament of Aces which garnered Big Hill Haven 50-thousand-dollar donation in October. 

Blanchet says that Big Hill Haven is proud of the success of its Supporting the Supporters Program which was a series of webinars and forums which, “Helped raise awareness about the impacts of domestic violence and how better to respond to domestic violence engaging men and boys.” There were seven participants that completed all the modules. Big Hill Haven celebrated the graduates at their Celebration of Community event that was held in November which recognized the multitude of supporters of the organization.

All of the funding that is raised goes towards helping the victims. In 2021,71 women and children were helped by the organization. Big Haven was also able to provide 394 individual nights of shelter.

Blanchet says, “It was another tough year, and it definitely had its challenges, but I think given the circumstances it was a success for our organization.”

Looking ahead to 2022, Blanchet says the pandemic has changed the way that sheltering is looked at and Big Hill Haven will be considering what is the best next move for them in regard to capital projects and an actual brick and mortar building. “We are going to be investigating what makes sense for us to invest in terms of capital strategically it’s not necessarily a brick-and-mortar shelter. So, we’re trying to get really creative, and this is something we will be focusing on in the new year. One thing the pandemic has done is teach the organization the needs of the community and they will now take that knowledge and put it to good use.

Big Hill Haven is also in the process of hiring an Executive Director in 2022 which will be a keystone part of their plan moving ahead. While the physical shelter is important, an expanded focus will be implemented to provide various types of support to the victims of domestic violence. Blanchet says, “In 2022, I believe that Big Hill Haven is going to be really focused on a holistic approach to the fight against domestic violence in our community and in the region as well.”

While it is unfortunate that domestic violence is a reality in our community, it is very fortunate that Big Hill Haven is here to lead the fight.

Contact Big Hill Haven at:

 Phone:  403.796.656