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Honouring the courage of those who fight abuse

The Denise House hosting fundraiser at Tosca Banquet Hall March 12

Olympian and world champion hurdler Perdita Felicien will serve as master of ceremonies for the event. Felicien spent time as a child at The Denise House in Oshawa.

An upcoming event hosted by The Denise House will focus on honouring women and children who have or are enduring the cycle of domestic abuse.

On Wednesday, March 12, the Oshawa-based women’s shelter, which has served Oshawa and beyond for 35 years, will hold a special event at the Tosca Banquet Hall.

The evening will feature a three-course dinner, along with a performance from international singer, songwriter and composer Paul Luftenegger.

The master of ceremonies will be former Olympian and world champion hurdler Perdita Felicien, herself a survivor of domestic abuse.

Dena Sicard, fund development and community connector for Denise House, told The Oshawa Express Felicien has a personal connection to the shelter, as she once lived there with her mother.

Sicard, who joined the organization last year, said for many years it’s held annual fundraisers.

“For all intents and purposes, it’s a fundraiser, but it’s always about raising awareness about violence against women and children, which is still prevalent,” she said.

Denise House does receive government funding, but as Sicard notes, “the rest of the money must come from the community.”

While officials don’t necessarily have a specific goal in mind, any funds raised will go towards a number of initiatives, particularly the campaign to build a new shelter.

“We are currently looking for a lot to put towards a building purposely-built for the shelter,” she says.

Each year more than 230 women and children live at the shelter, while another 400 also receive support and counselling through outreach programs.

But as Sicard points out, there is an even greater demand for services than this, and the current facility can’t keep up with the demand.

“Our building is very, very old. We can take money and plunk hundreds of thousands of dollars into it, but we wouldn’t get what we really require to serve these women and children,” she said.

From a financial standpoint, they are ready to move forward, but Sicard said it’s “about finding the right property.”

“We want to stay in Oshawa-proper, it’s just not that easy to find the right lot,” she said.

As for the event, Sicard said they are hoping to “bring it up a notch” from past fundraisers.

“It’s going to be a very classy, elegant event,” she said.

It will run from 6 to 10 p.m., and between 6 and 7 p.m., attendees can register and have their coat checked.

They’ll receive a ticket for a free cocktail, and can enjoy a performance of an aerial acrobat.

Dinner will be served at 7 p.m., along with speeches from Denise House executive director Sandra McCormack and others.

As dessert is being served, there will be another aerial acrobatic performance, plus a full performance from Luftenegger.

Toronto artist Michael Wills will be painting live during the event, with his piece being auctioned off later in the evening.

Oshawa Jewellery is offering up a $3,000 gift certificate to be auctioned off as well.

Sicard said they are still looking for sponsors, and there are a number of packages available (Courage – $10,000, Strength – $5,000, Hope – $2,500 and $1,500 – Inspire).

Tickets for the event are $75 general admission, and can be purchased through

Alternatively, it is $700 to book a table of 10, savings of $5 per ticket. To do this, Sicard ask those interested reach out to her directly at 905-728-7311 or

Sicard said she hopes this is the first in a long line of special evenings.

“We do want to make this an annual event. We want it to be known in the community as a fantastic event that people want to go to every year,” she says.

For more information on Perdita and Luftenegger, visit, and