Brampton’s Armagh House receives $300K grant to help women & children fleeing domestic violence
Feature image Volkan Olmez/Unsplash

Brampton’s Armagh House receives $300K grant to help women & children fleeing domestic violence

Thousands of women across Ontario are trapped in an abusive relationship. Those who have a place to escape to have a much better chance of avoiding violence, even death. Those who do not, too often succumb to the impulses of men who prey on their vulnerability. 

Of all the factors that make it difficult for women to leave their abuser—fear of violent retribution, fear for a child’s safety, fear of alienation from one’s cultural community—the absence of a place to go and consequences of homelessness are, often tragically, the most powerful.

Advocates across Ontario continue to pressure the PC government to recognize intimate partner violence as a crisis that kills hundreds of women each year. In Brampton, Armagh House is a place that offers safety to women and children looking for a lifeline. 


(Alexis Wright/The Pointer; Source Peel Police)


It was recently awarded a $300,000 grant allocated by the City of Brampton through the taxpayer supported federal Housing Accelerator Fund. Armagh House offers transitional shelter for women and children threatened by domestic violence. 

After a series of delegations from community organizers in the city, the municipality committed to address the “growing health concern” of intimate partner violence last year, joining the City of Mississauga and the Region of Peel, along with about 100 other municipalities that have also made their own declarations that intimate partner violence be described as an epidemic. 

It was the first recommendation on a list of 86 by Ontario’s Coroner two years ago, following the triple-murder of three women in 2015 who had all suffered violent abuse at the hands of the same former intimate partner.

In what has been described as one of the most tone deaf, ignorant and dangerous statements by any government in Canada, the Doug Ford PCs responded to the Coroner’s direction, by ignoring it and claiming intimate partner violence “would not be considered an epidemic as it is not an infectious or communicable disease.”

The PC government has refused to make the proclamation, though in a surprise move last month it finally supported an NDP motion to declare IPV an epidemic, however, instead of passing it on the spot, delayed its passage until further study is done, prompting critics to point out that thousands of studies and pieces of research around the world have been produced, highlighting data points that all point to the same conclusion: intimate partner violence is a grave danger to millions of women and children around the world.

The refusal of the PCs to address a crisis across Ontario has choked off funding to organizations such as Armagh House that work in a life or death reality facing women in every corner of the province.

Armagh House operates the only transitional homes in Peel, Samiya Kebir, Program Manager, told The Pointer. A gap in the system sees clients access crisis shelters where they are only able to stay for a limited amount of time, with the expectation that subsidized housing will be found, but due to Peel’s exhausting waitlists and lack of affordability survivors are often left without an option for two years. This roughly two-year gap, she explained, is what Armagh House works to fill. 

When transitional housing is not available, it “creates a stoppage in that pathway towards healing, towards independent living, towards success from actually leaving the violence situation,” Jannies Le, Executive Director at Armagh House, told The Pointer. She highlighted how Peel Region’s shelter systems are all beyond capacity, forcing women and children fleeing violence to enter “the most challenging and unsafe phase of leaving a relationship that's abusive without any resources to receive them.” 


Armagh House works to help fill the gap that exists for women and their children fleeing gender-based violence or intimate partner violence.

(Armagh House) 


The PC government’s refusal to fund transitional housing for gender-based violence and violence against women forces some escaping their situation to “shelter-hop”. Others return to their abuser or end up in homeless shelters. 

“None of those are ideal or effective for them to maintain the journey that they took when they first left to heal, to recover, to unlearn, to move past and rebuild their family's lives. It’s impossible in those scenarios,” Le said. 

The $300,000 grant will allow Armagh House to duplicate its success in Mississauga with its 12 units in Brampton while extending services to other agencies in the city, she explained. Many of them don't have the tools or expertise that Armagh House has developed, “to help families maybe not enter the shelter system at all, access the resources that they need to leave safely and plan for their exit in a way where they'll find success,” she said, highlighting support for housing, financial access, schooling, career advancement, personal advocacy, police filings and legal services, among other types of help offered. 

“We meet the clients where they are,” she said. Armagh House helps them achieve goals they set for themselves. “We need to bring that and scale it up for Brampton, and that's what we're hoping to do with the fund.” 


Armagh House’s fully furnished units in Brampton. Clients are provided with their own self-contained units that come with a kitchen and bathroom where they can build independent living skills.

(Armagh House)


Clients are provided with their own self-contained units where they can focus on developing independent living skills and work with caseworkers and child and youth workers to “really develop the skills that they need to start living lives free from violence,” Kebir said. They are provided with systems navigation support. For example, if they are involved in the legal system, Armagh House provides them with a range of training to help access financial services, understand the way our courts work and learn critical safety skills including self defence.

Children have access to an art therapist to help develop emotional regulation and deal with the trauma they have experienced going through precarious living situations, having to leave their home or the violence they may have witnessed or directly experienced, she said. Mothers can also receive therapy weekly. 

“Essentially, what our goal is is to support the women to kind of build a foundation, whether that looks like career retraining, entering the workforce, continuing their education, being involved in therapy, trauma-informed wraparound supports to give them the stability and the resources that they require to eventually live lives free from violence and to break the cycle of violence,” she said. 


Armagh House is the only transitional housing home in the Region of Peel and provides clients with wrap-around supports to help them achieve independent living after fleeing violence. Children are also supported in dealing with their traumas, including through weekly art therapy.

(Armagh House)


The grant through federal funding is an important milestone, but the PC government is failing to meet its responsibility to women and children in danger. 

“We need the province to start funding transitional housing again,” Le said. “They stopped in the mid-90s and the impact of it has been devastating.” 

She highlighted how Armagh House has “presented this at every single budget meeting,” demonstrating that while the province may see it as a significant cost to fund all transitional housing, it is much more cost effective to invest in transitional housing “than to keep people in the shelter system seven to ten times before they're finally able to successfully leave,” Le explained. “How many resources go into that and how many resources go into keeping people in 24 hour housing when they might not need it after the first two to three months and when we can put them into independent housing and help them…move towards independent living?” The gap can’t be filled without the right investment, she said. 

According to data from the Region, police responded to nearly 16,000 incidents of family and intimate partner violence in 2022, roughly 43 disputes per day or about 2 every hour. These recorded responses likely do not demonstrate the full scale of the issue because “most incidents” go unreported. 

Peel Police reported that in Brampton and Mississauga, the highest number of calls in 2022 were for family and intimate partner violence issues. It laid 531 intimate partner violence strangulation charges that year. Women were the victims of 79 percent of all charges laid for intimate partner violence-related incidents in 2022.  

The importance of proper funding for services that don’t just provide temporary shelters, but transitional programs that allow survivors and their children to get out of the “system” and avoid being forced with returning to their abuser or continually re-entering temporary emergency facilities, cannot be understated. 

“Unless we increase the resources to be able to receive them when they decide to leave and then continue supporting them until they are successfully independent, then it's just gonna keep dropping back into the cycle and we're not serving wholly the families that were encouraged to leave in the first place,” Le said, explaining that Armagh House in the last two years has developed a more intensive program that allows people to move out at the one-year mark rather than the four-year mark, and prevents them from “having to access shelters in the first place.”


The PC government’s refusal to provide funding for transitional housing puts women and children in danger.

(Armagh House) 


The goal is to give survivors skills, resources, services and training to become empowered, to resolve their traumas and be able to achieve independent living. This helps confront a “victim-mentality” and gives survivors the right tools to overcome obstacles, instead of succumbing to them.

Despite women and children typically staying with Armagh House for a few months to two years, the positive impact is worth “decades, especially on the intergenerational side with the children,” Le said.

Many women realize they do not have to “accept the bare minimum for their lives,” Kebir said. 

For many clients “the healing did start at Armagh…but being able to have a place to call her own that she can provide for her family is thanks to the woman and her engagement in the program and her willingness to access the resources that we have…”.


(Alexis Wright/The Pointer; Source Peel Police) 


Many women have a hyperfocus on their children, determined to find ways to meet all their needs. 

Kebir stressed that women are not seen as victims, they are individuals, each with a unique story beyond their obvious challenges.

“What are her dreams, what is she hoping to achieve for herself?” She highlighted how one of the consequences of experiencing violence is feeling a loss of self. “Your self esteem takes a hit, you feel like you're not worthy, you feel like you cannot achieve anything or that you don't deserve to achieve anything…”.

Armagh House, she said, “changes that narrative completely and turns it on its head.”

“It says ‘No, you can do the things that you want to do, just identify them and we're going to help you navigate.’” She believes this is where part of the success springs from, because Armagh House does not “see the barriers as challenges,” rather as “something that we just need to move out of the woman's way to help her get to where she needs to be,” she said.

“Experiencing violence does not make you less of a human being, it does not make you less entitled to be able to access all of the things that the general population is accessing, and that's what Armagh is focusing on, that equity and equality piece.” 



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