Silent Witness program picking up speed across Nova Scotia

Jocelyn Turner
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Judi Giroux, chair of the Silent Witness Nova Scotia Cumberland Chapter, goes through some of the material the group uses during their presentations. The program raises awareness of domestic violence. 

AMHERST – The message to start talking about domestic violence may finally be started to spread. The Silent Witness Program, a program started in Cumberland County in 2009, the first in Nova Scotia, has started to be adopted by other areas in the province.

“It’s an awareness program,” said chairwoman of the Nova Scotia Silent Program for the Cumberland Chapter Judi Giroux. “It’s education. We try to raise awareness about the domestic violence against women. Our (program) is specific to women who have been murdered by their husbands, spouse, significant other.”

The program started in 1990 in the United States before moving into Canada. Currently, the program is set up in 15 different countries, including every state in the U.S. and four Canadian provinces, Nova Scotia and Alberta.

The Cumberland Chapter visits different community groups in the area and performs a short play, which shows what happens to a woman who experiences domestic violence. Then, the floor is open to questions.

“Where ours is called the Cumberland Chapter, we try to do as much work in the whole county of Cumberland as we can,” said Giroux. “We have been asked to go to (other counties). We were in New Glasgow a couple of years ago and did a presentation.”

Since the chapter’s inception in Cumberland County, the program has begun to be adopted in other counties in the province. Giroux said currently, New Glasgow is working on forming a chapter of their own.

“In Canada, I think the awareness needs to get out more,” she said. “But you also have to have people who are willing to form the chapters and do the work.”

Giroux said with her experience with the program, abuse against women and family violence seems to be a subject not many people are willing to talk about. And that, she said, needs to change.

“That is part of us wanting to make the awareness and the education,” she said. “People now don’t seem to be afraid. We all have to work together, and we all do, to overcome it. I’m hoping with the education and awareness that we do with this, it will be brought out so that it can be talked about more.”

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Cumberland County, United States Canada New Glasgow Alberta

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