It’s a good step’: Prince Albert Safe Shelter executive director welcomes new provincial campaign raising awareness about abusive relationships

Herald File Photo

The last full week in April marked the second full week of the provincial government’s latest public awareness campaign aimed at reducing interpersonal violence and abuse.

The ‘Face the Issue’ campaign is a multi-phase partnership between the ministries of Justice and Attorney General, Corrections, Policing and Public Safety, Status of Women and Advanced Education. Sheri Bates, the Executive Director of the Prince Albert Safe Shelter for Women said the campaign is a positive development.

“Absolutely, I believe it is a good step,” Bates said. “It shows their commitment in promoting the issue and spreading awareness. It’s commendable that they are taking the first steps in what I hope will be many.”

The social media video series targets 18 to 24-year-olds to help them identify potential red flags of abusive relationships. The series of five videos, which started on April 15, will run for six weeks on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, with an additional audio message on Spotify.

Each video features a young person recounting an upsetting or uncomfortable situation. Themes include coercive control, social isolation and gaslighting. The videos end with the tagline, “If something feels off, it probably is. Face the issue. End the abuse.”

Bates said Prince Albert’s domestic violence rates among the highest in the province, and Safe Shelter employees regularly see the impact.

She said the campaign might not help their current clients, but it can help their daughters and sons understand what abuse looks like, and what behaviours should not be tolerated.

This is the third phase of the ‘Face the Issue’ awareness campaign, which began with posters and video ads in 2020, and continued with videos in 2021-22.

According to the province, ‘Face the Issue’ is part of the Government of Saskatchewan’s multi-faceted approach to providing prevention and intervention supports and resources to address interpersonal violence and abuse.

“These videos are intended to challenge assumptions about ‘normal’ relationship dynamics and what constitutes abuse,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said in a press release.

“We hope that this ambitious campaign will help young people identify the signs before they become more vulnerable.”

“Everyone should understand that physical violence is only part of the whole picture,” Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Paul Merriman added.

“There are often many subtle signs and factors that come into play before abuse escalates. Raising awareness for younger adults about the early warning signs and forms of abusive behavior is an important step toward prevention and safety for everyone.”

According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan and Manitoba recorded the highest rates of police-reported family violence and police reported intimate partner violence in 2022.

The 2024-25 provincial budget dedicates $31.7 million in funding from the ministries of Justice and Attorney General and Corrections, Policing and Public Safety for a range of initiatives, including $439,000 to support 211 Saskatchewan and the Re:CONNECT crisis hotline for individuals at risk of interpersonal violence. The province also provides annualized funding of $328,000 (nearly $1 million over three years) dedicated to second-stage shelters for people escaping abuse, an increase of $577,000 for community-based organizations that provide supports and services to individuals and families impacted by interpersonal violence and abuse; and ongoing partnerships with community service providers for Family Intervention Rapid Support Teams.

“Prevention is key to addressing interpersonal violence and abuse,” Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Office Laura Ross said.

If someone you know may be at risk of interpersonal violence or abuse, you can find a complete directory of resources to help online at

“If someone sees it happening, they need to know who to call in their area,” Bates said. “Make yourself aware of what programs and what resources are available in your community, because they’re somebody there to lend a helping hand.”