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Ontario government expands strategy to end violence against indigenous women

Bridget Tolley, whose mother Gladys was killed in 2001, is embraced after the announcement of the inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016.
Bridget Tolley, whose mother Gladys was killed in 2001, is embraced after the announcement of the inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

TORONTO – In the year since Ontario launched its $100-million long-term strategy to end violence against indigenous women, community supports and programming for indigenous men have been expanded.

The Liberal government updated its progress Wednesday, saying a family well-being program is now in more than 200 Indigenous communities.

The program aims to address the impacts of intergenerational violence and trauma, and the provincial supports include hiring and training front-line staff.

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A violence prevention program for indigenous men has also expanded from five sites to 26, with funding of $5.4 million over three years.

The Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin (I Am a Kind Man) program aims to eventually reach 600 men and boys through violence prevention workshops, peer counselling and healing programming.

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Sylvia Maracle, the executive director of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, said indigenous women began a healing movement 30 or 40 years ago and it has taken a while for men to join.

“Rather than just continuing to worry about the crisis…we need to stop it and in order to stop it Indigenous men need to step into the circle,” she said.

“They do it in all kinds of ways that they can to say, ‘The violence stops with the generation now and the ones to come will have that violence-free and shiny, good life that we promised them.”‘

Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister David Zimmer said a lot has been accomplished in a year, but more work still needs to be done.

“We’ve just in many ways just scratched the surface,” he said.

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Women’s Issues Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris said Indigenous women and girls in Ontario are three times more likely to be affected by violence than non-Indigenous women.

“That statistic is troubling and it’s unacceptable,” she said.