Online International Women’s Day event offers lineup of positive stories to raise cash for women's shelters

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An online event marking International Women’s Day Monday that aims to raise awareness of domestic violence has already raised more than $20,000 for the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS).

The free virtual event features a panel of community and business leaders from around Alberta sharing stories and advice.

Ashley Wolfe, president of Wolfe Automotive Group, said Sunday they pulled the event together to bring attention to the work the 40 women’s shelters across the province do.

“It seems to be fairly under the radar, and this is one of those things that nobody likes to talk about,” Wolfe said. There are more than 40 shelters open and in demand across Alberta. In the past six months, more than 12,000 women, children and seniors were served by a shelter.

Wolfe said organizers wanted to put on an inspiring program because COVID-19 makes it seem like everything is negative.

“A bunch of ladies that have good stories to tell share some positive juju and make people smile for an hour, and maybe think about how they can pay it forward to somebody else,” said Wolfe.

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The Alberta Lt.-Gov. Salma Lakhani will kick off the program, and speakers include broadcaster and Olympic downhill skier Kelly VanderBeek and ACWS executive director Jan Reimer.

Wolfe said the goal is for women to come away with some knowledge of what successful women have faced and learn to overcome the same challenges they might be facing.

“I grew up with really, really strong women that that were pioneer women from long generations that did things that really didn’t fit at all. So, it’s been important to me that I can somehow pass that along,” said Wolfe.

Power of the Pack: Women Celebrating Women in Alberta, premieres at 10 a.m., but can be viewed any time through, where donations to the ACWS will be accepted.

The event comes as domestic violence calls have increased across the province and the ACWS saw a drop in donations due to COVID-19. The RCMP saw an 11.7 per cent increase in domestic violence calls from March to September, compared to 2019. From April to September, more than 21,000 calls were made to shelters across Alberta. One-third of those were for crisis support.

If you know someone who needs help, call the ACWS at 1-866-331-3933. If they are in immediate danger, call 911.

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