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We believe

Every individual has a right to live free from domestic violence

Supporting and empowering women and children to live free from domestic violence

Since 1981 through to today, we thank all of our staff, volunteers, sponsors and contributors for helping us to maintain and grow the Central Alberta Women's Emergency Shelter.

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Foreman Overlooking Bridge Construction Site

Our History

May 1981

Concerned citizens, including some members of the Status of Women Action Committee, met to discuss the problem of battered women and their children in our region.

June 1981

As a result of their deep concern and the interest shown, a public meeting was held at the Dawe Center with 12 people in attendance.

October 1981

After much work, a $10,000 Federal Government Grant was awarded to be used for public education and family violence research in Central Alberta.

December 1982

CAWES finally had approval from both levels of government to proceed. Red Deer and District Family and Community Support Services, who provided CAWES with $10,000 in deficit funding, made this possible.

August 1983

The new Central Alberta Women's Emergency Shelter officially opened its doors. The Shelter was licensed for 16 beds and was mandated to provide services 24 hours per day, seven days per week. They had four full-time staff, one phone line, and an operating budget of $200,000.


A group of dedicated community members recognized that it was necessary to expand and renovate the Shelter in order to provide safe refuge for the growing number of families affected by violence. This group of dynamic people formed a Building and Renovation Committee to raise the necessary funds, and a new dream was born. Thanks to a very generous community, a private donor, and the CMHC, the expansion was complete.


The newly expanded CAWES was finished and open for clients. We outfitted the new space for Administration, a larger area for the Child Support Program, a commercial kitchen, a teen boy's bedroom, and a barrier-free bedroom, as well as six new bedrooms and four ensuites.


We recognize that treatment for children who have experienced or witnessed family violence is a top priority. In response, we sought to create Canada's first in-shelter Children's Healing Centre. Incorporating the therapeutic benefits of SNOEZELEN, providing a bright, colourful play area, and group / individual counselling space, will help children to heal from the devastating effects of violence.


CAWES has now become a recognized leader in its field. We currently have room for 38 women and children at one time, a province-wide toll-free number, over thirty staff, and an operating budget of over $2 million. The tremendous task of providing refuge and support for families affected by domestic violence is ongoing, and successfully continues as a result of the hard work of many dedicated staff, volunteers, and community supporters.

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