Shield of Athena thanks Newsfirst for raising awareness of domestic abuse

In Quebec, one woman a month has been killed since the start of Covid pandemic

Newsfirst Multimedia co-publisher George Guzmas was one of 20 Montreal-area news media influencers who were presented with certificates of appreciation last week by officials from Shield of Athena in recognition of their efforts to raise awareness of domestic violence during the Covid pandemic.

Violence soared

As Shield of Athena executive-director Melpa Kamateros explained during an interview prior to the Victims and Survivors of Crime Week event held at Rotisserie Panama in Park Extension on Nov. 18, domestic violence against women increased in Quebec in the more than 18 months since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Left, Shield of Athena board president Chris Ann Nakis speaks during the group’s event to thank Montreal-area media at Rotisserie Panama in Park Extension on Nov. 18. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

Underlining the reality, Shield of Athena compiled a list of the names of 24 women and girls who were killed since May 2020, two of whom were from Laval and seven from Montreal – including one in Park Extension.

Traumatic stories

“It’s one woman a month who has been killed,” said Kamateros. “With this terrible situation of Covid, it’s just reinforced everything and there have been many more murders.”

In a press release, Shield of Athena says, “Many victims have had traumatic experiences but it is only in the telling of their stories that we can raise awareness and prevention.”

According to the organization, during this period of global pandemic, access to services and support for many victims has become very difficult. And in cases of violence against women, there has been an upsurge, particularly during this period when victims have been more isolated and vulnerable.

Vimy Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis delivered a message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is the Member of Parliament of Papineau. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

Yet another statistic…

Shield of Athena acknowledges the role that various media in Montreal have played during the pandemic to raise awareness of domestic violence “and thanks them for their constant support to victims, especially during the pandemic,” they said. “Without their assistance, many could have died and become yet another statistic.”

Vimy Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis, whose riding in Laval is home to a large number of the Montreal region’s Greeks, delivered a message sent by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who is the Member of Parliament for Papineau.

Message from PM Trudeau

“He wanted to be here himself, because this is his riding,” she said. “And he’s also a great friend of Shield of Athena and the work they’ve been doing for many years. Unfortunately, he’s in the United States right now and he was unable to be here himself. And so, his office reached out to me and asked if I would be able to deliver his message on his behalf.”

Koutrakis praised Shield of Athena, especially for its diversity. “They’ve hired front-line workers to be there for the women and children who flee violence,” she said, noting that the group has also gone to great lengths to make its services available in a wide range of languages.

“I’m really happy with the work that they’ve been doing. For our government to be able to partner with organizations such as Shield of Athena which take a leadership role means a lot not only to the Hellenic community, but also to women across all communities.”

‘A front-line role’

In his message, Prime Minister Trudeau said he felt honoured to be able to formally recognize the crucial role played by mainstream and ethnic media who supported Shield of Athena’s campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence against women during the pandemic.

“Shield of Athena is the perfect example of an organization playing a front-line role to help women, children and the communities to break the cycle of psychological, emotional, verbal and economic violence,” Trudeau said. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the ethnic media for their continued support and work to address violence against women, especially during the pandemic.

From the left, Shield of Athena board president Chris Ann Nakis, executive-director Melpa Kamateros, Vimy Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis and board member Eramelinda Boquer. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

‘Ending gender-based violence’

“During Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, let us reaffirm our commitment to ending gender-based violence here in Canada and around the world,” he added. “I invite Canadians to consider what we can all do through our words and actions to end gender-based violence and build a better future world.” Québec solidaire MNA for Laurier-Dorion Andrés Fontecilla underscored the fact that one of the femicides was in Park Extension.

On July 19 this year, Rajunder Prabheed Kaur, age 32, was murdered by her partner, leaving behind two orphaned children. “These women are killed because they are women,” he said, noting that media today are finally acknowledging this truth.