What does family mean? Family Day reflections

Children's artwork about their families

Family Day happens in Ontario every year on the third Monday of February. After Valentine’s celebrations, Family Day is a great chance to have some down time with family and friends, playing out with the snow (if climate change permits!) or staying into the comfort of our homes for a full day. 

Family Day can be a difficult holiday for the women and children who live with us. Quite often, “breaking up” their family and having to raise children on their own may be a reason that prevents women from leaving violent homes. But the women who come to us have left. And this might mean they’ve left their children’s other parent, in order to find safety for themselves and their kids, and to build a better life. Children may miss their other parent, and it can be challenging to explain to them the reasons why they can’t all get together for Family Day. 

It’s tough to leave an abusive partner behind, and to be reminded of it on occasions such as Family Day. But this can be an opportunity for women at Interval House to remember too that they are still part of a family. And they had the strength to leave a place where their family could not have thrived, so they could be safe and cared for at Interval House. 

At any given time, we have up to 18 children living in our  home. On Family Day, kids don’t have school and the whole building becomes a huge playground. We run family activities and eat a huge, special dinner together. 

And for the women at Interval House without children, our home becomes a source of family for them: counsellors, staff, volunteers, women and children. We’re all one big family that has come together, where women can be who they want to be, and where every day they receive the support necessary in the path to healing.