In the mid-1980’s, nine agencies providing shelter, counselling and treatment programs in Thunder Bay formed the Inter-Agency Response to Wife Abuse/Assault Group after realizing that an improved and coordinated response to family violence was needed. Focused on information sharing and service coordination within the context of family violence, the group renamed itself the Thunder Bay Coordinating Committee Against Family Violence in 1989.
During the 1990’s, the Committee developed a Domestic Assault Protocol for Thunder Bay Police, published a Woman Assault Services Directory, and directed its attention to the criminal justice system’s response to woman abuse. The latter involved identifying, monitoring and responding to family violence issues in the criminal justice context. In 1997, the Committee produced “Linkages”, a report that mapped the local criminal justice system and related supports, and established the Supervised Access Program in partnership with the Lakehead Regional Family Centre (now known as the Children’s Centre Thunder Bay) in 1998.
In 2001, we adopted our current name and logo. That same year, we also refined our mission, vision and values, and launched our first website. Throughout its various iterations, the Committee has continued to uphold its mandate. We have trained health care workers in woman abuse protocol, created a tool to assess the effectiveness of a community’s coordinated response to woman abuse, and we are represented on the Domestic Violence Court Advisory.
With financial support from The Ministry of Community and Social Services Domestic Violence Action Plan Funding Program, we produced Traps and Gaps: An Effectiveness Assessment of the VAW Service System in Thunder Bay and District in 2006-07. Around this same time, a strategic planning session facilitated by Diane Walker resulted in the dissolution of the Committee’s existing structure. The current structure was developed and new members were welcomed to the table. We decided to become an incorporated non-profit organization. Our Articles of Incorporation and Letters Patent were received in 2009, and our By-Law and Board Policy Manual was also developed that year.
With an aim to coordinate a prompt response in cases of domestic violence where the potential for lethality is high and imminent, an ad-hoc high risk committee formed in 2010. Distinct from the Thunder Bay High Risk Domestic Violence Committee, it functions as a community-based forum for VAW advocates to confidentially liaise with each other, law enforcement, and the community regarding high risk cases with the goal of collectively enhancing the safety of a survivor and her children, while holding a (former) partner accountable for violent behaviour.
Today, Thunder Bay and District Coordinating Committee to End Woman Abuse is an independent, not-for-profit corporation with a governing Board of Directors elected from its broader membership. We endeavour to address the complex reality of woman abuse in our region.