NEWS

Mediation program cuts "invaluable" employee

07/17/2012 05:50 EDT | Updated 09/16/2012 05:12 EDT
A mediation centre in Little Burgundy, a community in Montreal's southwest, is losing its only woman mediator due to a lack of funding.

The group in charge of funding the program could not gather enough grants to employ Selena Isles at the centre.

Community workers are concerned about the impact that losing Isles will have on the neighbourhood as a whole.

Isles has been with the Burgundy Urban Mediation Project [BUMP] for two years. She is also a teacher at Venture High School.

BUMP provides mediation within the community for issues arising between members and focuses on decreasing instances of violence while improving living conditions in Little Burgundy.

"A lot of the female clientele within Little Burgundy, and by extension, the ones I was dealing with in the southwest are feeling the brunt of this because now they feel awkward calling me because they know I'm leaving. They don't want to burden me with their problems," said Isles.

Tamara Hart, who runs the youth and families program at Tyndale St. Georges Community Centre, said Isles has an ease with the people in the community.

"The work that Selena was doing was exactly that. She was working the population that people have been trying to reach out to but haven't been able to galvanize as much as Selena," she said.

Diane Lemon, the program's director, said Isles was let go because she works the least number of hours at the centre and is the most recent hire at BUMP.

Hart, on the other hand, believes this is not the right time to cut Isles out of the project.

"It's really alarming and concerning. It's quite puzzling that in this time with this whole push to have quality programs for our girls that are becoming more at risk everyday, that this invaluable resource is going to be taken away."

Isles said she would continue to help the women of Little Burgundy even if she does not work for BUMP.

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