First Winnipeg shelter for Muslim women and children opens, hopes to offer a sense of belonging

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Winnipeg’s first shelter for Muslim women and children opened its doorways final week, with the hope that it’ll create a sense of security and belonging for these in want.

The venture was first introduced in March. Sakeenah Home Winnipeg was created by Mississauga charity Sakeenah Homes, which affords transitional housing companies for women and children in Brampton, London, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.

“Whenever you see one thing new — you at all times have a few apprehensions — but in addition hope,” mentioned Shahina Siddiqui, govt director of ISSA, in an interview Sunday.

ISSA helped join Sakeenah Homes with the group in Winnipeg. Having labored with Winnipeg’s Islamic group for many years, Siddiqui has met many Muslim women who she says didn’t really feel welcome in mainstream shelters, citing dietary, non secular and social points.

Domestic violence impacts extra than simply bodily security, mentioned Siddiqui, and it is necessary to assist victims really feel secure on an emotional, cultural and non secular stage as properly in order that they can really feel safe as they start to heal from abusive conditions.

“I do know some shelters did strive to accommodate the weight loss program and all that, however when you’ve got one fridge and you are maintaining pork subsequent to the halal meat — it is simply creating points,” mentioned Siddiqui.

Shahina Siddiqui, govt director of the Islamic Social Services Association in Winnipeg, says she has met many Muslim women who opted to keep in abusive relationships to keep away from mainstream shelters. (CBC)

“Women have been resisting to go to a shelter, and those that did would name and say ‘Please get me out of right here.'”

She says a lack of sensitivities in mainstream shelters usually have dire penalties.

“This was the toughest factor for me to swallow, is that [Muslim women] would select to keep in an abusive relationship slightly than go to a shelter the place they felt that they weren’t secure, that they weren’t being accommodated or it might influence their children negatively.”

Siddiqui’s imaginative and prescient is to have extra shelters which can be delicate to the wants of Muslims past Winnipeg and all through Manitoba, including that ISSA is trying into what it will probably do to make that imaginative and prescient a actuality.

‘First step’

Reactions to the brand new shelter have been optimistic, and Siddiqui hopes every little thing strikes in the fitting route.

“We have taken step one,” she mentioned, however a few extra steps now lie forward.

Cheikh Ould Moulaye of the Manitoba Islamic Association mentioned his group has recognized a “particular” want for shelters like the brand new one in Winnipeg.

“Some of our Muslim sisters do not feel included within the shelters,” he advised CBC on Sunday.

In addition to addressing their dietary, non secular and social wants, Moulaye says Muslim women can discover assist with language boundaries on the new shelter.

“They want to be understood and to be helped as quickly as attainable,” he mentioned. “Finding a place the place you already really feel such as you belong makes it simpler when you’re coming from a scenario the place you have already got different challenges.”

The new 13-bed shelter is designed to really feel like a dwelling slightly than an establishment, Chaudhry says. (Submitted by Sakeenah Homes)

The shelter with 13 beds and one crib has not obtained authorities funding, in accordance to Chaudhry, who says it is being initially funded by help from Northpine Foundation and the ASK Foundation.

“We depend on help from all people, so for us it is a nice feeling, however we hope that the group feels that they’ve possession on this as properly,” she mentioned in an interview Saturday.

Chaudhry mentioned home violence worsened after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and her group obtained an growing quantity of cellphone calls from Muslim women in Manitoba throughout that interval.

In 2019, Statistics Canada discovered that Manitoba and Saskatchewan had the very best provincial charges of police-reported household violence.

Chaudhry says the Winnipeg shelter takes a step away from “institutional” trying furnishings usually seen in mainstream services.

The shelter is “designed to really feel such as you’re sitting at dwelling,” she mentioned, “as a result of we all know women and children coming from these traumatic backgrounds want that area to heal earlier than they will do the rest.”

Volunteers from comparable organizations in Winnipeg already provided assist organising the brand new shelter, the place the workers are all native to Winnipeg, mentioned Chaudhry.

“It’s so nice for them to create these relationships and communities round them to help the work that they are doing.”

The workers at Sakeenah Homes are blissful to find a way to present their companies in Winnipeg, in accordance to Chaudhry, but in addition saddened that there’s a want for them within the first place. Their final aim is to eradicate that want. 

“Muslims will be relaxation assured that in the event that they’re trying for a area that understands their cultural and non secular sensitivities — we’re there,” she mentioned.

“That’s not to say that we solely settle for Muslims as residents — we’re open to all people and anyone that wants a area.”


Support is offered for anybody who has been abused or assaulted. You can entry disaster strains and native help companies by this Government of Canada web site or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you are in rapid hazard or worry for your security or that of others round you, please name 911. 

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