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Solidarity: NB High School Principal Speaks Out

On the elimination of the ACSW

As principal of a high school in New Brunswick, I see the continuous cycle of social issues with women in New Brunswick. The same women who were involved in abusive relationships when they were young have daughters who are in abusive relationships. The same women who as teens got pregnant and quit high school have daughters getting pregnant and quitting school.

The key to the success of this province is education and health of the babies and children. With the elimination of the ACSW, the New Brunswick government has removed another support for women and children in the province.

The ACSW was the result of the visions of Richard Hatfield. Say what you like about Hatfield, he was a visionary and a champion of the rights of everyone. The province still needs a group independent of the government to make recommendations to the government on behalf of women.

If you judge the health of the province by its weakest members, NB is not doing well. Many children are caught in the cycle of poverty, without access to proper medical and dental care, or healthy food. Improve the lot of women in this province and improve things for children. That will lead to a better, more prosperous province. Thanks to the ACSW many women are now on par in wages with men in the province. It’s not perfect but it’s a help. Thanks to the ACSW awareness about domestic violence has increased. There’s still a lot of work to be done.

The need for the ACSW is apparent to those of us who work with children and families, to have a group keeping the statistics in the forefront, a group to advocate for women.

It is hard to explain to the young women I work with that they are, in fact, not important to the government of New Brunswick.

Of what economic benefit is it cutting this agency that advocates for women? Somebody needs to show me the proof.

I know the Minister says that it is more important to keep the “frontline workers” in place who deal with domestic violence. They are “workers”. There has to be an agency that guides decisions of the government as to the need of women. I predict the cutting of these positions or a reallocating of resources in the future.

In 2011, why do women have to make the choices they make? Some women have to choose between a career and staying home. Other women have to decide between heat and food. Why do women stay in abusive relationships? How has the province moved to support these women and to ensure their safety? I’ve known women who have had to pack up their whole life and move to another province for their safety.

What messages are we sending to the youth about domestic violence? I can tell you from my personal experience working with teens that many young men think it’s ok to be abusive. They don’t understand that their behaviour is abusive. Why is that?

Perhaps the ACSW could be more proactive with more resources. Perhaps as a woman of position in NB I could have been more vocal about what I think the role of the counsel is. I am involved now.

We have a long way to go in this province and I am shocked and disappointed at the elimination of the ACSW.
Lynn Farmakoulas
Fundy High School


Filed under: Letters/lettres, solidarity/solidarité

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