For women suffering domestic abuse including being trafficked, there is no time more challenging than the depth of winter. Again this year, the Rotary Club of Cornwall Sunrise and Starbucks (Cornwall) have teamed up to raise funds for both Maison Baldwin House and the Akwesasne Family Wellness Centre. Tickets for this fundraiser raffle can be purchased at Starbucks on Brookdale Ave. and from members of Sunrise Rotary. This campaign runs until March 1st.
Debbie Fortier, Executive Director, Maison Baldwin House, gave an update on the current situation facing local women’s shelters. The challenges are numerous and accommodation is limited. Maison Baldwin House is a 10-bed facility for women over age 16 years of age with/without children who are the victims of domestic violence or human trafficking within the past 6 months. Provision of housing for homeless women is not permitted under their mandate.
The Covid pandemic has added an additional strain. Victims of human trafficking began to appear because “Johns” were unavailable and girls forced into prostitution were not being cared for by their pimps. Until recently, women’s shelters did not admit women without identification documents.. that has changed with the recognition that victims of human trafficking do not have such documents….. they have been taken by their pimps. The girls have no money, no credit cards, no health cards or other ID, however, they frequently have drug and mental health issues, branding marks, etc.. Cornwall’s location on the 401 corridor is a contributing factor to the incidence of human trafficking and the need for the services of agencies like Maison Baldwin House.
Both helping girls trying to leave “the game” and sheltering women and their children from abusive home situation is extremely challenging and costly.