When Alicia Baribeau moved to Smithers from Ontario late last year, she never realized what she would be leaving behind.
It was only a month ago that she was told her older sister and three children had been victims of domestic abuse for the past 10 years.
“To me, it’s emotional because I’ve been there for 11 years. To not know what’s going on and to feel like if I had known, I could have done so much more for her,” said Baribeau.
“But she kept it a secret from all of us.”
Baribeau said her sister originally told her over the phone what was happening
“I was crushed and I was really scared for her,” she said.
Baribeau said she had always been close with her sister, but noted that her brother in-law always made her uneasy.
“The way he treated my kids, he would tease them to the point of tears. Even when playing, he would be rough enough to hurt them,” said Baribeau.
“I would never let my kids be alone with him even before I knew that he was [allegedly] abusive.”
Her sister and her three children have since left the relationship and have been living in a shelter in Ontario for the past month.
According to Baribeau, the husband has abandoned the family, leaving them with nothing.
Now, Baribeau has started the process of moving them to Smithers.
To start, the family will live with Baribeau, her husband and four children.
But they will need help getting back on their feet.
To help, Baribeau is organizing a domestic violence fundraiser.
The event will include a silent auction, live music and a presentation by a woman who was also in an abusive relationship.
“It’s not just to raise money for my sister and her family, but [to raise awareness] for anybody in this situation,” she said.
“If more people know that there are resources out there and people that are actually out there who will do something, then they won’t stay in these situations.
“I think there’s a lot more that can be done to show people what’s out there and what can be done.”
All proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards helping the family build a new life in town.
Baribeau said the Northern Society for Domestic Peace has already offered resources for the family, they’ve received a donation from the Smithers Lions Club and people have been donating items for when the family arrives.
“Seeing how much the community steps up and supports people they don’t even know is amazing,” said Baribeau.
The fundraiser will take place on Saturday, March 26 from 6-9 p.m. at Pioneer Place.