University of Calgary

Brenda Strafford Chair

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U of C's Faculty of Social Work announces the establishment of The Brenda Strafford Chair in the Prevention of Domestic Violence

By Lynne Dulaney-MacNicol

Women in Alberta experience the highest rates of domestic violence in Canada, according to a 2005 Statistics Canada report. Over the past five years, researchers in the U of C’s Faculty of Social Work have been working closely with the community to understand how to create programs and services to stop the cycle of abuse that affects women, children, men and families. And now, the community has returned the favour by providing the financial means to advance this research in hopes of effecting change.

barry straffordThe Brenda Strafford Foundation has endowed $1.5 million to establish The Brenda Strafford Chair in the Prevention of Domestic Violence at the Faculty of Social Work. The U of C has matched this amount for a total of $3 million towards the chair position. The chair will provide leadership in research related to the prevention of all facets of domestic violence—emotional and psychological, physical and sexual, and economic abuses. The faculty hopes to have the chair appointed by July 2008.

Gayla Rogers, dean of the Faculty of Social Work says prevention is key in ending the cycle. “Prevention is the focus of this initiative. Without prevention, society will continue to bandage the victims of violence, rather than helping them avoid and escape abuse. Without prevention, abuse will continue and costs to victims and to society will continue to escalate.”

Dr. Barrie Strafford established the Brenda Strafford Foundation in 1975 in memory of his wife, Brenda Strafford.

“The Brenda Strafford Foundation is very pleased to endow this important position,” says Dr. Barrie Strafford, its president and CEO. “Our ultimate goal is to prevent domestic violence in all its forms.”

In the last five years, 90,000 incidents of domestic violence were reported in Alberta. “While it is vitally important that we fund community programs, it’s not possible to change attitudes, policies and programs without research,” says Rogers. “Our goal is to conduct research that creates, builds and evaluates knowledge which will impact programs, practices and policies.”

She adds, “This endowment is a milestone for our faculty and will help us make a significant impact in the fight to end domestic violence. We’re grateful to Dr. Strafford and the Brenda Strafford Foundation for making this vision a reality.”

Organizations dealing directly with the effects of domestic violence welcome the new initiative, including Calgary Police Service Chief Rick Hanson who says, “Family abuse is everyone’s business and we’re extremely supportive of this new chair.”

Among other philanthropic ventures, the Brenda Strafford Foundation funds the Brenda Strafford Centre for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, which opened in Calgary in 1996 to provide post-crisis housing for abused women and their children.