Connecting to Community after Intimate Partner Violence: The Building Opportunities for Women (BOW) Program at Sudbury YWCA Genevra House

Presented by: Jen Johnson and Bernouse Davilus.
This Resource Spotlight was presented and recorded on Oct 4, 2022.

In this Resource Spotlight Presentation, the presenters shared and explained the goals and purpose of the Building Opportunities for Women (BOW) Program. Learn about how this Program was implemented to serve the needs of diverse women within smaller cities and towns in Northern Ontario.

The BOW Program is a 12-week support group for women 16+ who self-identify as having experienced, or feel they are at risk of experiencing, intimate partner violence in Sudbury & District, Northeastern Ontario, Canada. The program can be delivered virtually or in-person to groups of 10-15 participants. A skilled facilitator supports women in exploring their potential and achieving greater personal, social, and financial stability in their lives while also learning about gendered violence. Both the BOW Program curriculum and an ongoing qualitative program evaluation are based on a methodology of connection, reflection and skill building that is trauma-informed. The BOW Program is an educational and support service offered by Sudbury YWCA Genevra House that reflects a commitment to activism through education and awareness about gender-based violence, in addition to providing emergency shelter services. Presenters shared how the BOW Program engages with women who have experienced intimate partner violence or may be at risk of experiencing violence as they examine their own sense of self-esteem and vulnerabilities, as well as identify their future education and training needs.

Resource Spotlight Recording


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Learning Objectives

By the end of this presentation, participants knew more about:

  • The BOW Program curriculum
  • The context and reasoning behind the establishment of the BOW Program as a virtual and in-person group support for women in Northeastern Ontario
  • The importance of program evaluation and participants’ responses to the BOW Program



Representatives from YWCA Sudbury


Jen Johnson (PhD York, MSt. Oxon) is a Program Evaluator of the Building Opportunities for Women Program (BOW). With 22 years of postsecondary teaching and research experience, Jen contributes pedagogical support as well as critical evaluation of the BOW Program. Formerly associate professor and chair of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (Thorneloe University at Laurentian) and is currently Adjunct at Laurentian University in the School of Liberal Arts. Her research and teaching interests include feminist geographical approaches to the study of social reproduction, gender, race and racism and structural violence in the context of workplaces, and feminist pedagogies. Contacts:

Bernouse Davilus (RSW, BSW Laurentian) is a Community Outreach Worker with YWCA Sudbury where she coordinates and facilitates the Building Opportunities for Women Program (BOW). She is currently a Master of Social Work Student at Laurentian University where she is researching the experience of Francophone immigrant caregivers in Northern Ontario who are caring for elderly relatives. She also worked in the Violence Against Women sector (VAW) as counsellor, providing individual counselling to victims of Intimate Partner Violence at the Sudbury Counselling Centre. Bernouse enjoys working with women and feels that it is a privilege to be able to help them gain meaningful skills to enhance their personal growth. Contacts: