This article will profile the innovative community engagement process initiated by the "Be the Peace, Make a Change" project to end gender-based violence in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, and conclude with lessons learned. These lessons were summarized as "headlines" to imagine a future with new narratives for interpersonal relationships. This project was a three-year grassroots initiative of Second Story Women’s Centre, funded by Status of Women Canada. It engaged the rural communities of Lunenburg County to develop a coordinated response to violence against women and girls. It focused on the engagement of all genders, youth, and adults in exploring and implementing the visions, hopes and actions identified as priorities by the community within a peacebuilding framework. Community was broadly defined to include: survivors of relationship violence; professional service providers in healthcare, community services, policing and justice; municipal and provincial government; community-based services; educators and schools; clergy; and any interested citizens. The need to alter the cultural and social roots that sustain violence was recognized. A focus on building trusting partnerships both locally and provincially, inclusion of men and boys, engaging schools and youth and the justice systems, as well as survivors were hallmarks of the project.

Author Bio(s)

Nancy Ross is an Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University, School of Social Work and is completing a PhD in Peace Studies at Bradford University, UK. Prior to entering academia she worked as a clinical therapist in mental health and addiction settings and in community development.


violence against women, community responses/peacebuilding/voice/grassroots/critical appreciative inquiry/open space technology

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