In the early 1990s a group of local women and men (spearheaded by Lorraine Thiessen and Shirley Laychuk) met with a common desire to make a positive contribution to their community. Based on their belief that all members of our community should be able to live without abuse or the threat of abuse, they decided to start a Society dedicated to providing shelter, counselling and referral services to individuals and families impacted by abuse. In September,1992 the Wheatland Communities Crisis Shelter was incorporated.
With donated space, and mostly volunteer staff, the WCCS opened its Shelter in May 1993, the first in Canada that provided shelter and other services to male survivors of domestic abuse. For over 25 years the Wheatland Crisis Society has been providing shelter, outreach and education in Wheatland County and surrounding counties.
We provide safety, shelter, food, clothing, crisis counseling, referral and advocacy for those impacted by family abuse or in crisis.
OUR VISION is to create a safe and secure community free from violence or abuse.
OUR MISSION is to ensure victims of family violence are sheltered and receive counselling in a non-judgmental way. We will ensure programs respect that responds to their individual needs, resources and prevention services.
OUR GOALS are to 1. Protect and shelter victims 2. Deliver programs designed to reduce tolerance of violence and prevent abuse 3. Reduce the need for families to access domestic violence services.
We provide a safe place for families and individuals to stay until they are able to make a ‘next-step’.
Our Shelter is a large, secure, residential facility that can accommodate up to 25 people (adults and children) in seven bedrooms. Communal living can be challenging for people seeking safety, therefore, WCS strives to provide predictable, consistent and personalized programming with the goal of nurturing resiliency, mastery, independence and community. Our programming is founded through a trauma-based lens with a focus on fostering stable, caring relationships. Small groups by WCS staff and community partners, are offered on a variety of topics including safety planning, managing stress, self-esteem and positive parenting.
Families stay together in their own bedroom for one night up to three weeks. Individuals who are coming to shelter without children, may have to share a room. Food becomes an important component to both welcome clients and learn life skills from each other at WCS. Nutritious homemade meals are offered daily or families are welcome to prepare their own comfort foods in our kitchen. There is also opportunity for clients to learn tools to ground themselves during times of stress and anxiety, including individual or group mediation and yoga. There are also resources and opportunities for clients to connect with their spiritual journey in shelter.
WCS always strives to ensure people have a safe place to stay, even if all our beds are full. This means that we will actively resource clients to find alternative safe options.
The goal of the Child & Youth Program is to provide a safe and nurturing environment, where children can simply, “be kids”. The playroom is a relaxed atmosphere, where children can enjoy a variety of activities (arts & crafts, dramatic play, games and music). Our Child and Youth Program supports parents in addressing the physical and emotional needs of the family during their stay in the Shelter, while supplying a safe place for children and youth to express themselves freely and have fun.
The Outreach Program provides risk assessment, safety planning, community resourcing and supportive counseling to individuals residing in the community. Clients may be in their relationship, preparing to leave, returning home, building a new life or struggling to find helpful and accessible resources to support a safe and healthy life. Outreach staff meet with clients in shelter as well in satellite offices in Three Hills and Drumheller.
Our court support program aims to provide legal resource referrals, safety planning and support around navigating the courthouse, providing an empathetic ear during what can be a scary and stressful process.
The goal of the Public Education program is to increase awareness and decrease tolerance of violence and abuse. Anti-abuse educators are available to schools, service clubs, community groups, agencies and faith communities to provide a number of workshops and presentations on family abuse and related topics. This service is available free of charge, as are all shelter services. Presentations are available within several communities including, but not limited to Strathmore, Carseland, Langdon, Indus, Milo, Three Hills, Carbon, Linden, Acme, Drumheller, Trochu, Beiseker, Irricana, Kathryn, Gleichen, Siksika, Standard, Rockyford, Chestermere and more!
In order to continue to offer services to children in shelter we are using a new program model that focuses on group work with children with a primary focus on safety planning and healthy attachment between parents and children.
Highlights of this program include:
WCS is pleased to offer expanded services to children and adolescents. It is our core belief that often the biggest victims of domestic abuse are the smallest in the family. This program provides longer term outreach support to children and adolescents experiencing a variety of difficulties including: Grief and loss, separation and divorce, anxiety, depression, ADHD/ADD and other school adjustment issues.
Wheatland Crisis society takes great pride in our inclusive practices. Since opening in 1992 we have remained committed to helping everyone who has experienced domestic violence. In 2017, the Wheatland Crisis Society was recognized Provincially, with an Alberta Inspiration Award for our inclusive practices. All Wheatland Crisis Society programs are accessible to men, women and anyone within the LGBTQ+ community. In addition, the Male Domestic Abuse Outreach Program is offered through the Calgary Counselling Centre to provide longer term counselling, advocacy and support. The program includes individual and group services.
WCS in partnership with R.C.M.P, Crown, Victims Services and Child & Family Services have established the family violence prevention project. The Family Violence Prevention Project works to support victims in incidents where domestic violence related charges have been laid and the case is entering into the justice system. The project is designed to ensure collaboration among Child and Family Services, Crown Prosecutor’s office, RCMP and defense counsel to support victims through the criminal court process.
The Wheatland Crisis Society relies on donations from individuals, corporations and public organizations to continue programs for families impacted by abuse. Without the generosity of our supporters and donors several of our programs would be unable to continue. Programs and essential services that depend on donations to operate include:
The Family Enjoyment Project
The Public Education Program
Life Skills Programs
Improving & enhancing cultural programs
Support with providing translation services
Annual routine maintenance of our shelter
Basic needs supplies such as linens, towels and personal care items
Art supplies for children and adults to access during their stay
Donations are required to support specific dietary needs such as gluten free, lactose free, vegan and halal
Some of the ways you can support our shelter and the families who stay with us are:
WCS/Strathmore Shelter is seeking passionate, enthusiastic individuals to serve on our voluntary Board of Directors. If you have a background in the legal field, fundraising experience or planning and development and are interested in serving on the Board please contact the Chair of the Nominating Committee, Patricia Matthews at [email protected] or click here for more information.