Manitoba Sikh community members deliver valentines to people in women’s centres

Manitoba’s Sikh community is showing their support for people who use women’s centres in Winnipeg with special Valentine’s Day care packages.

Sikh Heritage Manitoba put together gifts of hygiene items, said Gagan Singh, who helped deliver items to Willow Place and the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre on Friday.

“We have handmade Valentine’s [Day] cards here as well as the day approaches to give a message of support for the people who need these packages,” he said.

The gifts were delivered early so there was enough time to properly disinfect everything.

The care packages are meant to show support for those who are experiencing domestic violence, through a movement called One Billion Rising.

Sikh Heritage Manitoba has organized Valentine’s Day care packages for people at women’s shelters for the last few years. (John Einarson/CBC)

The organization says one in three women will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime, or roughly one billion people globally.

But those rates are increasing because of the pandemic, local experts have said, and people may have difficulty leaving dangerous situations because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Singh knows the care packages can’t save the women, but he hopes it will show some support.

“Domestic violence rates have increased over the time during COVID. The demand has increased with the shelters, and the support is much needed,” he said.

“Now more than ever.”

Sikh Heritage Manitoba has given Valentine’s Day gifts for the last few years in conjunction with the World Sikh Organization.

Supports available in Manitoba:

  • Manitoba government Stop the Violence program (Toll-free): 1-888-987-2829.
  • Ikwe Widdjiitiwin (Toll-free): 1-800-362-3344.
  • Willow Place crisis line: 204-615-0311 or 1-877-977-0007.
  • Provincial crisis line: 1-877-977-0007.
  • North End Women’s Centre: Available by phone, online and in groups of three or fewer people inside.
  • West Central Women’s Resource Centre: Appointment only for laundry, showers and crisis support. Urgent visits only. Bag lunches and dinners at door.
  • North Point Douglas Women’s Centre: Food/coffee/hygiene pickup, visits of 10 minutes or less, five people inside at a time.
  • Sage House (Mount Carmel Clinic): Drop-in counselling cancelled. Snacks and hygiene available for pickup at door.
  • Wahbung Abinoonjiiag Inc.: Temporarily closed, available over social media and phone.
  • Men’s Resource Centre.

Anyone facing immediate danger should call 911.