Odyssey House in Grande Prairie is throwing its support behind the provincial government’s proposed Disclosure to Protect Against Domestic Violence Act. The act, modelled after “Clare’s Law”, would allow at-risk individuals to better find out if an intimate partner has a history of violence or an abusive past.
Director of Communications with Odyssey House Makayla Marcotte says the programs currently available in Grande Prairie allow them to try to allocate as much support as possible to help women who have experienced domestic violence by providing tools and encouragement.
“A big part of that is one-on-one counselling and supporting women as they navigate the court and legal system,” she explains. “In September alone we had 26 instances of legal support which totalled over 45 hours and that’s just a rough average for one month, so it’s prevalent.”
Marcotte says the most important part of the proposed law, in her mind, is it could bring attention and awareness to domestic violence and the growing number of reported cases in the Grande Prairie region.
“Saskatchewan was the first province to introduce a law of this type in 2018, and Alberta has the third-highest rate of domestic violence in the country,” she notes. “This law is a way the government is really recognizing the magnitude of domestic violence, and how it affects Alberta and Canada.”
According to the Family Violence Death Review Committee, there were 166 deaths in Alberta due to domestic and family violence between 2008 and 2017. Clare’s Law was enacted in the United Kingdom after a woman with that name was killed by an ex-boyfriend with a history of domestic violence.