Women and Gender Equality Canada Provides $557,299 to Standardize Policy for Violence Against Women Shelters Across Rural Canada

The Mountain Rose Women's Shelter Association (MRWSA) will partner with the Rural Development Network (RDN) to develop a centralized policy database for Violence Against Women (VAW) shelters in Canada. Women and Gender Equality Canada will provide $557,299 to MRWSA to address the challenges women in rural communities face when seeking assistance.

“Domestic violence impacts women from all socio-economic, cultural and other backgrounds. Circumstances surrounding the experience of domestic violence and access to services differ for women in rural communities,” says Cindy Easton, Executive Director of MRWSA, “The Shelter Pulse Project will enable participating rural and remote women’s shelters to weigh in on what policies are needed to address their unique needs and provide a trauma-informed lens to the work we do in supporting women and children impacted by violence.” 

Current challenges to implementing a trauma-informed approach to care include: 
  • Lack of clear definitions
  • Difficulty translating trauma-informed care to specific practice settings 
  • Ensuring consistency across service settings and systems
  • Lack of evaluation of the service provided

Women’s shelters across Canada were contacted for this project and voiced overwhelming support: “We’ve been working on a policy manual for several years but haven’t completed it due to lack of capacity,” explained Marlene Gorman, Executive Director, YWCA Sudbury. The situation in smaller centres is even more dire.

The Shelter Pulse database will be a free, easy-to-use, up-to-date resource to resolve these issues. Pooling resources to create a consistent framework for policy development and service delivery will also save time and money for shelters, eliminate duplication of work, and create a standard for all rural Canadian shelters.

“Living in a rural community should not be an impediment to a woman’s ability to escape from violence or to access support,” says Dee Ann Benard, Executive Director of the RDN. “While small community DV shelters are doing their best, capacity and funding constraints make it difficult for them to stay current with administrative processes, such as policy development and staff training.”

“This funding will allow DV shelters to save time and money by giving them free access to the well researched and up to date policies they need to best serve their clients, and will provide a one-stop-shop to access relevant training.”

The goal of the project is for most, if not all, rural Canadian women’s shelters to have an up-to-date, standardized policy manual by March 31, 2024.


Julia Juco