The Northern Society for Domestic Peace’s (NSDP) Passage House recently turned 30.
Passage House is transitional housing for women and their dependent children who are at risk of violence or have experienced violence recently.
Dec. 1 marked 30 years since the Passage House first opened its doors to its first client in 1989.
The transition house was first envisioned when grassroots advocates began to raise concerns about women fleeing violence needing a safe shelter in the region.
Under the lead of Nancy DeVries, who has previously sat on the Smithers Housing Task Force on behalf of Smithers Senior Citizens’ Society, negotiations were completed and funding was secured from the Ministry of Social Services to fund operations for a “six- up to ten-bed shelter.”
NSDP Executive Director Carol Seychuk said the shelter has been a foundational program for the society since it was incorporated on Feb. 2, 1993.
That was when NSDP took over the land lease and mortgage of Passage House and the associated support contracts from Smithers Community Services Association (SCSA).
Since then the location has seen approximately 9,094 women and children, according to their records.
Seychuk said 30 years later the location is still well used and provides a critical service to Smithers and its surrounding area.
“I think that people often want to stay in their communities and try to figure out what they’re going to do next,” said Seychuk.
“Providing that safety whether it be for 24 hours or for 30 days gives them those opportunities.”
The Passage House is an example of local transitional housing, which refers to housing that provides safe and secure temporary shelter in a communal setting.
Stays are typically under 30 days.
Services included at the location include crisis intervention, safety planning and response, shelter, referrals and emotional support to women and their dependent children.
Seychuk said another positive element of the Passage House is the sense of belonging it provides in connecting women who may be experiencing situations with overlapping features.
“I think a lot of people don’t know, they think they’re the only one and no one else understands what’s happening and I think its really important for them to have those connections.
“Often we see women who stay there but they often come back for coffee or meals or a visit or just to get more information so it’s a continuing service even after they’ve left. And making those connections can be life impacting.”
The anniversary was not the only one NSDP recently acknowledged. The society also paid homage to the 14 women killed in the École Polytechnique massacre 30 years ago on Dec. 6.
Out of respect for those killed their office on First Avenue featured displays of the women and NSDP employees handed out 14 red roses to women who stopped by the office on the same day.