In the Wood Buffalo region, Waypoints stops the hurting and starts the healing

Society offers services, support and hope to those affected by domestic and sexual violence

Imagine a community free of domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse and homelessness.

Since 1982, this has been the vision Waypoints has been working to bring to the Wood Buffalo region of Alberta.

“It's painful to think about, but these things happen here and all around the world. We need to help victims get back on their feet and hopefully start moving through the healing process,” explains Michele Taylor, executive director of Waypoints.

Waypoints provides vital services and support in Fort McMurray and the surrounding Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo—including food, clothing, supplies and housing for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse through its Unity House Emergency Shelter, Second Stage Shelter and Sexual Assault Healing Centre.

In addition to support for survivors of violence and abuse, the organization also offers education for offenders through the Opportunities for Change Centre, and this fall, Waypoints is aiming to open the region’s first child and youth advocacy centre, called the Care Centre for Children and Youth.

The centre will support children and youth who have witnessed or experienced domestic or family violence, sexual assault, abuse or other types of trauma. It will eliminate the need for families to visit multiple locations for services when an incident occurs—with RCMP, victim services and the Waypoints sexual assault and domestic violence teams all present in a single, child-friendly location.

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Taylor is also passionate about raising awareness to break the cycle and prevent abuse from occurring. “I feel that we haven't done enough, collectively, to figure out what causes this type of destructive behavior and to find a way to prevent it,” she says.

Waypoints periodically delivers workshops to schools in the community, including Who Do You Tell, which Taylor says are steps in the right direction and have been well-received.

But she believes there is still much room for growth: “I would love to see the impact that educational programs on healthy relationships offered from kindergarten to Grade 12 could have.”

Enbridge is committed to improving quality of life in the areas where we operate—and as a longtime member of the Wood Buffalo community, we have supported Waypoints since 2013 in a variety of ways.

This year, our $5,000 donation will be split between funding for Unity House and the third annual Alcor Fort McMurray Food Festival. The 2019 gala for foodies begins July 19, and all proceeds from the 10-day festival will be donated to Waypoints. Twelve events are scheduled, including the Largest Outdoor Patio Party, Taste of Fort McMurray and Boots ‘n’ Brews.

“The events are really first class,” Taylor says. “We’re grateful for the amazing community leaders involved in organizing the festival and the over 200 volunteers who help make it possible.”