By Dan Walton

Pioneer Staff

After branching out from the Family Resource Centre earlier this year, the Womens Resource Centre in Invermere recently presented its first set of workshops in the valley.

During the week of May 13th to 17th, the Womens Resource Centre hosted Victims Awareness Workshops in Canal Flats, Invermere and Radium Hot Springs.

We had three keynotes, and we kept about a half-hour time allotment per speaker per evening, organizer Dru Wagner explained to The Pioneer. One for seniors, one for youth and one for women.

Each segment included a topical keynote speaker Janice McGregor on seniors, Shelley Chaney regarding youth, and Rachel King covering women. All three speakers presented at each workshop, and were accompanied by a different lineup of panel members each night who weighed in on the subjects.

Speakers would spend 10 to 15 minutes with her speech and panel members could interject before the audience asked their questions, said organizer Lisa Ede. There were excellent discussions and some went quite long. People were engaged; they want the centre to host more workshops.

Keynote speaker Janice McGregor is the manager at Kootenay Savings, and discussed issues of victimization surrounding banking.

She spoke a lot about banking when you get older scams, powers of attorney, do-not-call numbers, email scams, Ms. Wagner said. Really great information for that.

During Ms. Chaneys segments focused around youth, less traditional issues such as sexting and cyberbullying were discussed.

Ms. King, who spoke about women who become victims, discussed where women can go to seek help and informed the audience of the services available for victims.

With the mix of topics at each presentation, discussions that followed were dependent on the members of the audience. One of the workshops were attended largely by youth who opened up for a very personal discussion, Ms. Wagner said.

It was interesting for the other adults and seniors to hear that, she said. They had questions and they got answers, and everyone learned from that in the room.

Growing up in the digital age is continually creating new challenges, a growing problem that our youth workers felt needed to be addressed, Ms. Wagner said.

The organizers said the discussions were informally held as an open panel, and they noticed stronger engagement among smaller audiences.

People felt very comfortable to sit there and just talk about things. They asked questions to each other not just the keynote speakers or panel, Ms. Ede said. Perhaps the smaller group sizes were less intimidating for people to engage in discussion.

During the workshops, organizers reminded the audience of services offered through the Womens Resource Centre, such as how to keep children safe.

It made the audiences realize that these problems are there all the time, and more people need to know the answers, Ms. Wagner said. Which is why I think they want us to hold another one.

Anybody who considers themselves a victim can call the support workers at the centre.

Start asking us questions and well show you where to go, she said.

The Columbia Valley Womens Resource Centre is located on the lower level of Frater Landing, just below Koffee Kweens and adjacent to Interior World, and can be reached at 250-341-3963.