Local zine hosts Valentine’s event in support of domestic violence survivors

Rachel Carlson, Beat Reporter
Cockroach zine founder, Meg Crane, making Valentine’s Day cards for women in shelters./RACHEL CARLSON

Cockroach zine founder, Meg Crane, making Valentine’s Day cards for women in shelters./RACHEL CARLSON

Freezing evening temperatures on Jan. 11 didn’t stop people from venturing out to warm the hearts of complete strangers. Cockroach zine hosted about 30 people for A Lovely Open Mic at Fools and Horses Coffee to make Valentine’s Day cards for women staying in domestic violence shelters.

This is the second year for the growing project said founder of Cockroach and creative communications grad, Meg Crane.

“This year I wanted to make it even bigger and get more valentines and send them to more places,” said Crane. “I organized this event as a way to let people know a bit more about the project and encourage people to come out and make some valentines.”

Crane was inspired to start the project while she was in university and searching for a way to contribute to social change as a cash and time-strapped student, she said

“I didn’t feel like I had the resources to contribute, so I started looking up things that I could do,” said Crane. “There’s all sorts of things you can do to help people even when you don’t think that you can.”

Last year, Crane gathered hundreds of handmade cards and sent them to women’s shelters across Canada.

“I hope that the people who receive them get a little bit of joy out of them and that they know they’re not alone,” said Crane. “I hope they know there are a lot of people out there thinking about them and who don’t know them, but still love and care about them.”

It’s an important gesture, said Willow Place executive director Lesley Lindberg.

“It pulls at the heart strings of the people who work in this area, but the real beneficiaries are people who are taking a very brave step in their life to change their circumstance,” said Lindberg. “That’s a hard thing to do.”

In 2013/14 there were 60,341 admissions of women to shelters in Canada—most of them were escaping domestic violence, according to Statistics Canada. These numbers reflect a major social problem with no easy solutions, said Alpha House Project executive director, Glenda Dean.

“Until there’s a big shift in how society views how women should be treated in relationships we’re not going to see a big change in the statistics of domestic violence,” said Dean.

Events like A Lovely Open Mic help because it encourages people to talk about the issue, she said.

“Anything that brings attention to it will cause people to ask questions—who are we doing this for and why is this happening—so it absolutely is a good thing,” said Dean.

“Any education, any awareness is really going to be instrumental in making change.”

Last year, Alpha House received cards from the project and they helped support the women there during a difficult time, said Dean.

“I think they were touched that people were thinking of them,” she said. “Valentine’s Day can be hard for women in shelters and so it’s about celebrating them, it’s another tool to help them celebrate themselves.”

For women seeking shelter from abuse, rebuilding self-worth is a crucial step in healing, said Lindberg.

“The wearing away of self-esteem when in that situation you just become totally worn down,” she said. “Messages of hope, messages of encouragement, messages that are coming from a community that says there are people who really care—you are worthy of better treatment.”

If you want to send your own messages of hope you can drop off Valentine’s Day cards at Pembina Hair Co at 669 Pembina Hwy or email Cockroach at cockroachzine@gmail.com

 If you or someone you care about is experiencing domestic or intimate partner violence, you can call 1 877 977 0007 for information and resources. It’s free and confidential 24 hours a day.