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New housing unit for women escaping violent partners opens in Montreal’s east end

A new apartment building in Montreal’s East end represents the promise of safety for women fleeing conjugal violence in the area.

After years in the works, the Gisèle-Pomerleau second-stage housing complex is ready to welcome those in need.

The building has 20 units featuring two to three bedrooms.

“We have this new house that will certainly save lives,” said Chantal Rouleau, Quebec’s minister for social solidarity and community action.

Lives like the one of Pointe-Aux-Trembles resident Narjess Ben Yedder.

Last week, the 32 year-old died tragically. Her husband has been charged in connection with her death.

Local French media TVA reported that Ben Yedder had been stabbed 20 times and was pregnant with the couple’s child.

“It’s sad because because violence is there, no matter what, and we’re trying to help women get past this violence with a second-stage home, which is so critical,” said Lisa Christensen, city councillor for the district of La Pointe-Aux-Prairies.

That critical need was identified long ago by prominent women’s rights advocate in the city’s east end, the late Gisèle Pomerleau.

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The new housing complex is named after her. It was her dream to build it.

She was the founder of the Pointe-Aux-Trembles Women’s Centre, now run by Dorette Mekamdjio.

She says there is already a waiting list for the much-needed resource.

“Even if the housing is here in the east end, it remains a global need,” Mekamdjio said.

Quebec’s minister for the status women, Martine Biron, says there are currently a few dozen second-stage shelters across Quebec.

Biron says the goal is to add 30 more.

Second-stage housing helps women and their children get their lives back on track after being victims of conjugal violence.

“It’s a place where you can go secure, where you can get help every day,” Biron said.

Help is everywhere, Christensen said. She wants women to know that there are resources to get them out of dangerous situations.

“You can walk into a municipal building, you can walk into a library, you can use a computer, you can ask a friend, stop a police officer and somebody will point you into the direction of the resources that are available,” Christensen said.

“You are not alone, you are not alone.”

If you or someone you know has been a victim of intimate partner violence or is involved in an abusive situation, help is available.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

Find information from SOS violence conjugale on their website. 

Or visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.


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