New domestic violence program tackles ‘taboo’ subject for Calgary’s African community

Dee Adekugbe, left, executive director of Ruth’s House, and Dr Tope Fagite, right, board member. (Provided by Dee Adekugbe, Tope Fagite – image credit)

A new domestic violence and abuse support program for Calgary’s African community will address what is a rarely discussed issue, its executive director said.

Ruth’s House executive director Dee Adekugbe says she started the support center after experiencing domestic abuse.

“It’s visible, but we don’t address it, we don’t talk about it.…It’s a taboo subject that we want to untangle, we want to open up and we want to equip our community on how to handle it,” said Adekugbe The last straight line.

Ruth’s House was created in collaboration with over 50 community groups, organizations and religious organizations. In a press release, its staff said that many victims of domestic violence find it difficult to work with government agencies and regulatory authorities because of their unfamiliarity with the Canadian system, which differs from African culture.

“It’s tearing families apart, it’s wreaking havoc on the community, and so it’s necessary that Ruth’s House be created so that we can support our community,” Adekugbe said.

Ruth’s House, which opened on Saturday, provides free temporary safe housing for people experiencing domestic violence, programs for newcomers to Canada and awareness training for community organizations and faith groups on how to identify the domestic violence.

Dr Tope Fagite, a Nigerian family doctor and board member of Ruth’s House, says domestic violence within the African community has been ignored for too long.

She says it’s also crucial to have people from the same background to offer support.

“We know it’s a problem. We understand the culture and the beliefs, and we want to challenge some of them,” Fagite said.

“We just want to support people and let them know they have a voice, and [their] voices can be heard and there is help available in Canada. People don’t have to live with abuse.”

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

Radio Canada

Radio Canada

Jessica C. Bell