FREDA Centre marks 30 years of research on violence against women and children

May 28, 2024
From left to right: FREDA's Associate Director Kate Rossiter, FREDA's Director Margaret Jackson, and FREDA's Associate Director Sarah Yercich.

The Feminist Research, Education, Development and Action (FREDA) Centre recently celebrated its 30th anniversary with an intimate event at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue on May 10th, marking a significant milestone in their ongoing commitment to addressing violence against women and children. The event brought together community and legal advocates committed to the well-being of women, children, and youth in the province.

Elder Sam George Jr. leading the opening ceremony.

The celebration started with an opening ceremony by Elder Sam George Jr., followed by a brief overview of FREDA’s history by criminology emeritus professor Margaret Jackson, who co-founded the centre and served as its director since 1994.

“It started to unfold many years ago in 1992, when the Social Sciences and Humanities Council, along with Health and Welfare Canada provided five-year grants to start up these five centres across Canada,” said Jackson. “It took a few years to have the dust settled and finally have the FREDA Centre as so named finally emerge.”

Today, FREDA is one of seven centres across the country—in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick—all dedicated to facilitating and conducting research on violence against women and children, raising awareness, and influencing policy.

Keynote speaker Emma Cunliffe during her presentation.

A highlight of the event was a keynote presentation on "Expertise, Myths, and Stereotypes in Family Law Proceedings" delivered by University of British Columbia professor Emma Cunliffe, a renowned scholar in the investigation and fact-finding process in complex criminal matters, particularly those involving violence against women and Indigenous peoples.

"Recognizing the wisdom that's in this room, the conundrum that we face is between making the existing system better while recognizing that it will continue to operate, it will continue to harm, and building a very different approach to keeping children and women safe from violence,” Cunliffe said.

Following the presentation, attendees actively participated in an engaging Q&A session. Among the attendees was Kathy Louis, an educator and advocate for restorative justice policies and practices in British Columbia.

“I'm glad that I was invited to get to know about FREDA and all the women that are involved here. Keep your hearts together and keep moving forward,” Louis said.

The event provided a platform for reflection, celebration, networking and the reaffirmation of commitment to the crucial mission of addressing and combating violence against women and children.