Maliseets’ shelter a haven from abuse

Posted Oct. 21, 2008, at 9:54 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:55 a.m.

HOULTON, Maine — For most people, the image of their grandmother’s house conjures up images of security and comfort, Jane Root, the director of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Domestic Violence Response Program, said Tuesday.

That is why the band’s new home geared toward keeping Maliseet women safe from domestic abuse has been named “Nuhkomoss Wik,” Maliseet for “My Grandmother’s House.”

The shelter for abused women and their children, which officially opens today, will provide women with a safe haven for years to come, Root said Tuesday.

The shelter, which sleeps 10 people and began taking in women last month, already is full. The facility is housed in a manufactured home that was purchased thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women.

The tribe used the two-year, $158,000 grant and several other grants to purchase and furnish the manufactured home, as well as outfit it with security features. Grant money also is being used to pay for a shelter coordinator, who already has been hired, according to Root.

Root said that, in the past, the Maliseets’ domestic violence program was limited in the type of shelter it could provide to battered women.

“In the past, we could only offer them a few days in a motel,” said Root. “Most of our clients would not go to a non-native shelter, so this is a huge asset for us. It is a very secure place.”

In fact, the day the shelter first began accepting clients, workers took in a mother and her baby, according to Root.

The shelter’s name was derived from “the sense of safety and comfort that most people think of when they remember going to their grandmother’s house,” Root said.

The facility is holding a grand opening celebration at 2 p.m. today, and the domestic violence program will hold its annual vigil at 6:30 p.m.

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