Blake Deal
The Navigator

Photo courtesy of The Haven Society

Nanaimo’s Haven Society is celebrating their 35th anniversary on October 18 at the Port Theatre.

The Haven Society is a non-profit organization providing transition housing and programs for women and children that are victims of abuse.

The society started in 1978 after Malaspina students wrote a paper on the lack of services for victims of abuse in Nanaimo. The society now serves the island from Ladysmith to Bowser and is setting up a new transition house in Parksville.

Executive Director Anne Spilker said there has been no statistical change in the amount of abuse they see, but the society has changed its view on the matter.

Spilker said there was a time when bringing up violence against women as a problem would be laughed at. Now, she said, people know better.

Spilker, who has spent the last 19 years working with the society, is retiring. She said she feels as though she is now “full” and does not want to get “overfull.” She said it is time for a younger person with new ideas.

Spilker got involved with the society during a practicum, and said she never left.

Spilker said the main goal of the society is to not be needed. The motto for their anniversary is “Not Another 35 Years of Violence Against Women.”

Spilker said the society aims at children as the main way to stop violence against women. They have programs visiting elementary schools and high schools trying to educate and prevent violence.

Spilker said there are many people at the society that have worked there for over ten years. She said the idea is not about good work but social justice; the workers are attached to the cause.

The society runs on 30 per cent community support and 70 per cent funding from B.C. Housing and the Department of Justice.

Haven Society wants to use the anniversary to thank the community and have them come out and celebrate with them.

The free event at the Port Theatre runs from 4:30-6:30pm, with refreshments and cake during the first hour, and a play titled Not Another 35 Years for the second. The play is run entirely by the staff, and encompasses the past, present, and future of the society. There will also be door prizes.

For more information on the Haven Society, visit