One of the biggest advantages of our community partner program is that we get to hear from people across the province. BC is big and diverse and what works for a city of 100,000 people two hours from Seattle might not work for a community of 5,000 people two hours from Whitehorse. That’s a sentiment our community partners often, rightly, remind us of.
Last year we decided to try something different; we developed a comic book (and video) called Clear Skies. It was a new approach for us, one that focused on using a story to explain the law. We hoped that as readers learned about Marnie and her kids and how they dealt with family violence, readers would also learn about the law.
This approach resonated with a lot of people, including Elizabeth, a literacy outreach worker and our community partner in Haida Gwaii. (Credit where credit is due: Elizabeth told us we should make comic books a while before we actually did.) When Clear Skies came out, Elizabeth went above and beyond.
One of the reasons Clear Skies resonates with people is because it tells a story they recognize. Elizabeth used that as a springboard, hosting a discussion group where people gathered to watch Clear Skies and talk about how it reflected their experiences. On a beautiful sunny evening, a group of 18 people (including educators, victim services workers, and people who help children who have witnessed abuse) sat down for a frank discussion about abuse.
The feedback from the session was great. People thought that the comic accurately represented family violence and humanized an intimidating process. That’s great to hear and what we were aiming for. What’s more important, though, is that we got to hear this feedback. An opportunity like this is hard for us to organize from our Vancouver office; even if we could get the same people to come out, we wouldn’t have the same rapport as someone from the community. That personal connection really makes a difference.
Thank you to Elizabeth for taking the initiative and setting this up. We hope we’ll have the opportunity to help with more sessions like this in the future.