Not only does the team hold the distinction of being the top fundraising team so far for the 2019 event, they also have the current Top Three individual fundraisers. Co-captains Sergeant Mike Elliott and Dr. John Lilley are aiming to be the largest, most successful fundraising team that Walk a Mile Edmonton has ever seen in our ten-year history.
“Domestic violence occurs to everyone in some capacity,” says Elliott, President of the Edmonton Police Association. “Everyone has been directly or indirectly involved, thus it is a country-wide/global issue. We need to educate and provide those who may not have the strength or awareness the ability to speak out to acquire help. Know you are not alone. We also need to break stigmas. I know of people who feel it is shameful to bring ‘disrespect’ to a family or significant other if they were to seek help/leave a relationship. That’s my driver. Keep moving forward. If I can help just one person, I know I am making a difference.”
“The community should know that there is a HUGE unmet need to support individuals leaving domestic violence. And they should know that healthy parents, recovered from trauma, can do their best for their children,” adds Lilley, a long-time supporter of YWCA Edmonton, and Chair of our Philanthropy Committee. “By ensuring the children exposed to violence have every chance to move forward, we can help prevent the problem in a generation – not just treat the affects of violence now. Thus, Walk a Mile is critical – to fund programming, increase awareness, and ultimately prevent violence.”
The team is well on their way to making their fundraising goals a reality. With two weeks to go until event day, they have already set a number of precedents. This year marks the first year the Edmonton Police Chief has actively participated as a fundraiser; it is also the first year that the heads of the Edmonton Police Service, Edmonton Police Association, and Edmonton Police Foundation will be walking together at Walk a Mile Edmonton.
“It's for a great cause and it's important to ensure there's awareness for this very important and serious issue our society faces,” says Ashif Mawji, Chair of the Edmonton Police Foundation, who has just broken the record for the highest fundraising amount by an individual participant in a single year at Walk a Mile Edmonton. When asked what he hopes the YWCA will be able to do with the funds raised this year, Mawji expressed, “Raise more awareness on the issue and help those that are violated feel safe in reporting it and helping them overcome this.”
Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee is in agreement with his teammates and colleagues and their thoughts around domestic violence: “This is something that happens behind closed doors. We need to make sure that there is support for victims, and that we actually start to curve this, because there's a direct relation to domestic violence and police calls for service.”
Edmonton Police received nearly 8,000 domestic violence calls in 2018. Chief McFee is looking to change that. “Our goal is to become the smartest Police Service in the country. We're going to build a community of solutions,” he states. “I think there are a lot of people doing a lot of great work, and the YWCA is a prime example of that.”
Sgt. Elliott agrees: “People need to know there are organizations such as the YWCA who offer counselling services, coping mechanisms, avenues to seek help, avenues to break the cycle – not only for the affected person but also for the family members such as the children/relatives. YWCA is hope and help.”