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Who We Are

Our organization has provided a broad range of supports to survivors of violence and contributed to thought leadership on how to eradicate gender-based violence for almost 40 years. For decades, we have tirelessly fought to raise awareness of — and end — individualized and systemic violence in our communities.

Over time, our organization has grown and evolved, expanding our services to meet the needs of our communities. We’ve witnessed the diversity, complexity and effects of all forms of violence. We know that anyone can experience violence and we believe that everyone deserves a life free from violence. We strive to ensure that no one is left behind.

This is why we are now Embrave.

Strategic Plan

Learn about Embrave’s strategic priorities for 2017-2020.

 

Our Values

Thanks to the critical work of Black, Indigenous, racialized, queer, trans, mad, disabled survivors, we have an Integrated Feminist Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression (IF-ARAO) lens that allows us to analyze the ways in which forms of systemic oppression, including colonialism, racism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, sanism and sexism marginalize survivors of violence, leaving them with less social, political and economic power than cisgendered men in our society. 

At the foundation of an IF-ARAO framework is the understanding that:

We believe survivors

Survivors are the experts of their own lives

Survivors are not to blame for the violence they experience

Survivors have a right to safety and to live their lives free from the threat and reality of violence

Survivors’ experiences of violence take many forms

The impacts of violence are compounded by survivors’ intersectional identities

Anti-Black racism is prejudice, attitudes, beliefs, stereotyping and discrimination that is directed at people of African descent and is rooted in their unique history and experience of enslavement. Anti-Black racism is deeply entrenched in Canadian institutions, policies and practices, such that anti-Black racism is either functionally normalized or rendered invisible to the larger white society.

Anti-Black racism is manifested in the legacy of the current social, economic and political marginalization of African Canadians in society, such as the lack of opportunities, lower socio-economic status, higher unemployment, significant poverty rates and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system (African Canadian Legal Clinic).


We work to achieve this goal by:
  • Acknowledging anti-Black racism exists and that it has an impact on the health and well-being of Black Canadians.
  • Understanding anti-Black racism requires a collective responsibility to purposefully work to dismantle racist systems and practices. 
  • Recognizing that despite Canada’s reputation for promoting multiculturalism and diversity, Canada’s history of enslavement, racial segregation and marginalization has had a deleterious impact on people of African descent that must be addressed by all levels of government, institutions, businesses, schools, healthcare, social service and community agencies and individuals.

Racism is actions or practices done by individuals or institutions that marginalize individuals and groups because of their race, skin colour or ethnicity. Racism is a form of discrimination that combines social, political or economic power and prejudice to benefit a dominant group, creating disadvantage or exclusion of other non-dominant or marginalized groups.


We work to achieve this goal by:
  • Striving to eradicate all forms of racism and oppression within Embrave by identifying, challenging and removing barriers that exist in obtaining or accessing services, programs and employment. We want to ensure full representation that reflects the diversity of cultures and races.

Anti-oppression examines the ways in which sexism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, homophobia, colonialism, cissexism, transphobia and sanism marginalize survivors of violence, their experiences and their ability to access support.  

  • Heterosexism/homophobia is an ideological and social system of compulsory and assumed heterosexuality, based on binary gender, which denies, discriminates against and persecutes any non-heterosexual form of behaviour, identity, relationship or community, and privileges straight people/people who present gender in a normative way. It can also include fear or hatred of queer folks and 2SLGBTQ+ folks.
  • Ableism is the normalization of able-bodied persons resulting in the privilege of perceived “normal ability” and the oppression and exclusion of people with disabilities.
  • Antisemitism is hostility, hatred or prejudice against Jewish people as a religious, ethnic or racial group.
  • Cissexism/Transphobia is the set of acts and norms that privilege cis people and/oppress trans people. More broadly, cissexism is the appeal to norms that enforce the gender binary or gender essentialism, resulting in the oppression of non-binary and trans identities. Anybody who does not pass and/or identify as cis faces some cissexism.
  • Classism is the policies, attitudes, behaviours and beliefs that discriminate against and are used to disempower working class and poor people. Classism is one way within a capitalist system that the concentration of power and wealth is maintained. It perpetuates the belief that people are poor because they are lazy and stupid, rather than exposing the nature of the capitalist system that relies upon exploitable classes to thrive. 
  • Islamophobia is the fear, hatred or prejudice against the Islamic religion or Muslims generally, especially when understood as a geopolitical force or source of terrorism.
  • Sanism is the systemic subjugation and oppression of people who have received a “mental health” diagnosis or who are perceived to be “mentally ill.” Sanism creates and reinforces the idea that Mad people are fundamentally different from “sane” people. It is rooted in a psychocentric view that sees human problems as pathologies rooted in the mind/body of a pathological individual rather than the product of social problems/issues.

We work to achieve this goal by:
  • Understanding systemic inequities and forms of oppression that are at the root of how survivors experience violence and survivors’ ability to access resources and support. 

Harm reduction (HR) is about health promotion and human rights. It is a spectrum of strategies that reduces the negative impact of health, social and economic outcomes associated with realities such as substance use, sex work, behaviours typically associated with “self-harm” (cutting, eating habits, etc.) or any other coping strategy associated with trauma and violence. At its core, HR is about non-judgement towards these behaviours and supporting folks with the skills, tools and information to increase an individual’s safety. We understand a direct link between violence and trauma and a need for a Harm Reduction approach that recognizes that individuals are not homogenous and therefore require a variety of different support strategies to increase safety and reduce harm. Embrave supports the decriminalization of individuals experiencing substance use, sex work and other coping strategies such as “self-harm.”


Harm Reduction Supplies and Supports we provide:
  • Naloxone Kits: the kits are kept in the first aid boxes and can be requested at any time.
  • Safer Inhalation Kits
  • Safer Injection Kits
  • Self-harm/cutting Kits
  • Bad Date Report
  • Bad Drug Report
  • Non-denial of services based on substance use, sex work and/or behaviours associated to “self-harm/self-injury”
  • Advocate for individuals when navigating the systems or other services
  • Understanding substance use and the connection to trauma
  • Referrals based on similar frameworks
  • Safety planning
  • Understanding the contradictions and nuances that exist, where we have a harm reduction philosophy and yet we have guidelines against using in the shelter
  • Curfew does not apply for sex work and does not constitute an overnight stay
  • Client-centred approach: we are comfortable having open conversations and we can acknowledge own biases to offer a safer space.

Colonialism is the invasion, dispossession, exploitation and subjugation of a people and their lands that results in long-term institutionalized inequality in which the colonizer benefits at the expense of the colonized.

This commitment draws on a deep history of intersectional feminist anti-colonial thought, learning and sharing that promotes respect and explicit recognition of Indigenous knowledge, of lived experience and of accountability for our settler privilege. This commitment to decolonization of knowledge and of systems extends beyond modern colonial borders, and acknowledges the many diverse Indigenous people who are not indigenous to this treaty territory but who have migrated and settled in Peel Region and the Greater Toronto Area (e.g., Inuit, Metis and First Nations, but also: Amazigh, Kurdish, Mapuche, Palestinian, Maori, etc., etc., etc.).


We work to achieve this goal by:
  • Understanding the historical and ongoing violence of the colonization against Indigenous Peoples resulting in intergenerational trauma.
  • Making space for folks to engage in traditional and cultural practices and modes of healing.
  • Understanding how systemic colonialism results in the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in child welfare as well as the overrepresentation of Indigenous survivors of violence in the criminal justice system.
  • Recognizing the underlying socio-economic, cultural, institutional and historical factors that lead to ongoing violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
  • Recognizing the 231 calls for justice delineated in the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
  • From the calls for justice, “Denouncing and speaking out against violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.”
  • Understanding the lack of supports in the health care system.
  • Being aware of clients’ potential fear of systems and distrust of service providers who work within the systems.
  • Including programming that acknowledges Indigenous ways of knowing, beliefs, history, culture and healing.

Embrave acknowledges that every individual has the right to self-identify their gender, which may or may not conform to the sex they were assigned at birth. 2SLGBTQIA+ people are at equal or higher risk of experiencing intimate partner violence when compared to their heterosexual counterparts (Langenderfer-Magruder et al., 2016).


We work to achieve this goal by:
  • Committing to creating a social, cultural and physical environment that is welcoming, comfortable, affirming and safer for all trans and genderqueer communities by appreciating the unique challenges and barriers they may experience in accessing services, and increasing the range of supports and/or services available to them.
  • Offering programs to all women, two spirit, genderqueer, trans and non-binary people. Together, we create a Safer Space.
  • Challenging cis-normativity and heterosexism and not assuming heterosexuality or cis identity.
  • Respecting people’s identities and not assuming identity based on voice, appearance or legal name.
  • Recognizing and understanding the unique forms of violence that 2SLGBTQ+ folks experience (e.g., outing or misgendering someone).
  • Introducing ourselves with our pronouns.

It is common for people to think of disability as an individual flaw or problem, rather than something created by the world we live in. Disability Justice acknowledges the experience of disability as a political experience that encompasses a community full of rich histories, cultures and legacies. Disability justice activists are engaged in building an understanding of disability that is more complex, whole and interconnected. It pushes for an understanding of how ableism affects all of our movements of justice. It draws connections between ableism and other systems of oppression and violent institutions (Mia Mingus “Changing the Framework: Disability Justice”).

Ableism is the normalization of able-bodied persons resulting in the privilege of perceived “normal ability” and the oppression and exclusion of people with disabilities.


We work to achieve this goal by:

Recognizing that individuals may experience visible, invisible or both types of disability and we are committed to supporting them by:

  • Providing an accessibility room.
  • Providing assistive devices such as TTY and video relay service.
  • Providing ASL interpreters.
  • Challenging ableist behaviours, comments and language.
  • Completing the Accessibility Training in Ontario to ensure the five AODA Standards are followed.
  • Using accessible language when explaining shelter policies.
  • Understanding higher rates of violence and isolation of folks with disabilities due to ableism.
  • Programming that considers access needs (physical, literacy, neurodiversity).
  • Working to create accessible infrastructures.

Decriminalization is a necessary step to protecting the safety and rights of sex workers by ensuring that they have full access to health, safety and human rights. All sex workers deserve to have their choices respected and be able to work safely, without fear of violence, discrimination and social stigma.


We work to achieve this goal by:
  • Our commitment to improving safety and providing supports for sex workers.
  • Recognizing that sex work is not the same as human trafficking. Sex work is a job selling some form of sexual service. Trafficking is coerced or forced labour.
  • Understanding that anti-trafficking laws and policies often do more harm than good, leading to further stigma, criminalization, police harassment, violence, extortions and deportations of migrant sex workers while disregarding their actual concerns or needs.

Embrace Brave. Inspire Bravery.

Our organization has provided a broad range of supports to survivors of violence and contributed to thought leadership on how to eradicate gender-based violence for almost 40 years. For decades, we have tirelessly fought to raise awareness of — and end — individualized and systemic violence in our communities.

Over time, our organization has grown and evolved, expanding our services to meet the needs of our communities. We’ve witnessed the diversity, complexity and effects of all forms of violence. We know that anyone can experience violence and we believe that everyone deserves a life free from violence. We strive to ensure that no one is left behind.

This is why
we are now:

Our name and our identity are an embodiment of who we are, our values and what we do. We are brave, bold, fierce and confident: unafraid to face challenges head-on and advocate for change. We embrace brave. We inspire bravery.

We are inclusive and welcoming of all women, two-spirit, genderqueer, trans and non-binary people facing all forms of violence. We want to create a space where survivors can bring their whole selves. We respect and honour the bravery of all survivors and stand alongside them.

We recognize and champion the courage and resilience of survivors, and provide the resources and support they need to determine their own path forward. We are a continuous and lasting presence, there for survivors of violence wherever they happen to be in their own personal journey.  

Embrave is relentless in leading change and striving towards a society free from violence. We amplify the voices of survivors and celebrate what they are able to overcome; we educate the public; and we inspire systemic change through our work with individuals while taking action and collaborating with other organizations in the community.  

This work is important for our community. Violence touches us all. We are Embrave!