Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

shelter nights

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Did a couple more night shifts at the shelter over the weekend. A local Lions Club had done a food drive for us, and the entranceway was piled high with pasta, cannned goods, cookies, all sorts of food. The shelves are bursting! Some of the food will be used right in the shelter, and some will be made into food-boxes to give to women as they are leaving to start their lives again in their own place. Every item means that hunger is staved off for them and their kids, for at least a little while. It's great being part of a small town - the town really gets behind the shelter and other local initiatives like the food bank and the free Christmas dinners - my Dad and I served at one last Christmas, and there were tons of volunteers for cooking and serving and clean-up.

Of course, there are hazards for abused women in a small community. Everyone knows everyone, and it'd difficult for them to hide if their abuser still lives there. If he is being protected by his friends and family, it's like there is a whole network of spies, keeping track of where the woman is going and what she is doing. Often, abused women have to leave the town they've been living in and start fresh in a whole other community.

But it's wonderful to see the shelter so supported by the people in the town. Lots of toys get donated over Christmas, churches donate lunches and bedsheets, volunteer drivers help women move, and a local women's club has been systematically re-furnishing all the bedrooms. As soon as they raise enough money, they do-up another room. Violence against women certainly hasn't disappeared in my town, but at least there is a strong sense that it shouldn't be happening.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Deborah Ellis

Deborah Ellis is the acclaimed author of over 18 books and the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Vicky Metcalfe Award for a body of work, the Governor General’s Award, the Africana Book Award, the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Honour, and the Red Cedar Award. She has traveled the world to meet with and hear the stories of children marginalized by war, illness, and poverty, and has recorded their stories for others to read and learn from.

Go to Deborah Ellis’s Author Page