Beyond Borders

Beyond Borders logo

The Beyond Borders: High Rise Communities Responding to Gender Based Violence (Beyond Borders) project provided transformational community capacity building and skills based knowledge transfers on gender based violence to 11 peer leaders in four cultural linguistic groups - Amharic, Bengali, Tagalog and Tamil- living, working or volunteering in three downtown Toronto (Canada) high rise neighbourhoods - Moss Park, Regent Park and St. James Town. This project was a partnership between Springtide Resources and Central Neighbourhood House (CNH), with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

"When a girl can walk by herself at night... that's when the country she's in can be considered free." Day or night, we should feel safe enough to walk down any street.

Tamil poster #1

The Tagalog speaking, Filipino peer leaders created a series of digital stories on the issues of care giver abuse, family separation conflict and intimate partner violence. The excavating of personal histories was difficult work, yet the commitment of the peer leaders to produce highly relevant and high quality stories in the community was admirable. Each story used the personal histories of the members to mobilize action, to discuss violence in the community and to share strategies of resilience and survival.

Here are two of the videos created by the Tagalog participants:

The Bengali group engaged in extensive information sharing and gathering with women's groups in the communities and decided to produce bilingual cotton tote bags. The bags combined messages in Bengali and in English and featured organizational and funder logos. They were produced in black, red and canvas and were distributed in Bengali focus groups and workshops, at a widely attended December 6th public commemoration event held at CNH and for international women's day at Ryerson University. The Bengali speaking peer leaders have utilized the bags as a method of engagement to discuss gender based violence, as a springboard to engage new people in the objectives of the project in general and as a way to give something of quality in return to participants.

Bengali tote bags with statements "stop abuse" and "women are the inspiration"

Bengali group tote bags

The Tamil speaking group also held several workshops with community members in Tamil to discuss gender based violence, myths about abuse and to deconstruct well known cases and scenarios of violence in the community. Through a series of consultations, they decided to create 3 posters on the themes of victim blaming, street harassment and sexism in the home. All of the peer leaders participated in the development of the posters through multiple photo voice workshops and message making workshops with wider groups of community members. All 3 posters utilize the photography that the women of the Beyond Borders project shot themselves of the buildings and neighbourhoods in Regent Park, Moss Park and St. James Town, of message boards written in Tamil that workshop participants created and contain photos of themselves. The posters have been extremely well received by local community organizations, libraries, apartment buildings and community gathering spots.

"Don't force all the house duties on women, share the responsibility!"

Tamil poster #2

"Women are judged when we're violated because of how we dress. Isn't this a lack of freedom - not being able to wear what we want?" We are worth much more than the clothes we wear.

Tamil poster #3

The Amharic group produced a brochure in Amharic and Tigrigna based on the input we received of members of Amharic and Tigrigna support groups and support workers at the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT) and from focus groups at CNH. The peer leaders shared their knowledge and discussed community needs and decided that since no traditional brochure on gender based violence has been produced for outreach and providing resource information for those communities, they would create one. It became clear from the consultations that we would be missing a vital element if we didn't also produce the same material in Tigrigna as many of the community members would be excluded if our only language was Amharic and we were able to respond positively to the feedback. As a result, according to the community organization that we worked with on the translation (ATEC - African Training and Education Centre) we have produced a one of a kind resource that does not exist in Australia, Europe or North America for the target communities.

Peer leaders

Beyond Borders peer leaders

The project culminated in an incredible community plenary that featured the voices of the community members which displays the level of commitment displayed at all levels of program delivery and execution. We want to thank Central Neighbourhood House for being such an amazing partner on this project and our hope is to continue this work beyond this project. Special thanks to Azza Abbaro for her work on the tote bags and posters. Also thanks to CCVT and ATEC, and to Community Story Strategies for their technical support on the digital stories.

If you would like to know more about the project or would like to use the posters, please contact Tanisha at