Published on December 15, 2020

Supports Available for Those Experiencing Gender-Based Violence

For those experiencing gender-based violence you may feel alone and like there is nowhere to turn.

Please know - there is support available right in your own backyard.

If you are seeking emergency shelter the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation (JMMF) offers safe haven through Jessie’s House which supports individuals in the Sturgeon Region and St. Albert. More than just a bed, the shelter provides a broad range of services including family violence outreach, case management and court support. Built to accommodate even the largest families, it also provides specialized supports for children who’ve lived through the trauma of abuse.

Reach out today by calling the 24/7 crisis line/shelter intake at 1-866-939-2850.

Jessie’s House opened in May 2020 and is the first new emergency shelter built in Alberta in 22 years and is only one of a handful of Canadian emergency shelters serving individuals of any age or gender.

Jessie’s House and JMMF honour the memory of Jessica Martel, a young mom murdered by her spouse in 2009. The foundation was co-founded by Lynne Rosychuk, Jessica’s mother, and initially set out in 2012 to raise money to address a nation-wide shortage of emergency shelter beds.

To meet the growing needs of the community, the JMMF developed outreach and education programs to increase safety and supports for individuals and families navigating abuse. And by September 2018, JMMF broke ground on Jessie’s House, the Sturgeon Region’s first emergency shelter.

Recently, City Council provided a $1,000 sponsorship to JMMF to assist with its ongoing operations and the important work it is carrying out next door to St. Albert.

“Jessie’s House is a shelter for domestic violence in the Town of Morinville, yet it opens its doors to St. Albert residents. I believe that any facility whether in or outside your municipal boundaries that supports your residents you need to support in response,” says Mayor Cathy Heron.

“Sadly, we do have domestic violence and family violence in St. Albert. It is something you would love to see disappear, but I think COVID-19 has exacerbated that as well according to the numbers we have seen.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has been linked to increases in domestic violence reports and crisis calls around the world, including Canada. One in 10 women is very or extremely concerned about the possibility of violence in the home, suggests a Statistics Canada survey about COVID-19.

Where risk factors of gender-based violence at home already exist, pandemic related stressors such as job loss, food insecurity and mental health challenges can become triggers.

Intimate partner violence, including both spousal and dating violence, accounts for one in every four violent crimes reported to the police. Most of these victims (80 per cent) were women, a finding consistent over time. (Source: Statistics Canada)

If you are experiencing gender-based violence and are unsure of what supports are available to you, the answer to that question is only a phone call away.

“Every door is the right door for access to services in St. Albert,” says Leanne MacMillan, Community Development Coordinator with Family and Community Support Services. “Wherever an individual reaches out for help is where they would get connected to the other service agencies they may need to access.” 

Residents can call St. Albert’s Family and Community Support Services at 780-418-6000, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to discuss their options.

Additionally, local agency Stop Abuse in Families (SAIF), provides in-person and video counselling, safety planning and phone consultations. Appointments must be made to access services by calling 780-460-2195.

Other areas of support are available:

Note: If you are in immediate danger, please call 911. 

Like this content?

To receive our weekly newsletter, Subscribe to City Highlights

Related Pages

Last edited: December 17, 2020