Those consulted on the creation of a new $400,000 provincial fund hope it helps raise more awareness about Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Saskatchewan.
“I think we want to get the message out there that instead of always being reactive we need to start doing preventative work,” Marlene Bear said Monday in Regina at a launch event for Saskatchewan’s newly created MMIWG Community Response Fund.
“And we need to bring knowledge to the community that domestic violence is not acceptable anywhere.”
At least 10 individual community projects will receive funding through the new program, which was created in response to the National Inquiry into MMIWG‘s call for Indigenous-led solutions and services.
According to a provincial news release, the selected projects will “promote and enhance prevention, and build safety for Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit+ people, their families and communities.”
Bear, who works in in Saskatchewan’s north, says resources for community initiatives dedicated to MMIWG have so far been “scarce”.
“I don’t think they even really realize what their own communities are going through because of the lack of resources,” she said.
Myrna LaPlante, Lori Whiteman and Autumn Larose-Smith also heled develop the program and its funding criteria.
Myrna LaPlante, whose own aunt, Emily Osmond, has been missing since 2007, also attended Monday’s launch event at the Saskatchewan legislative building.
“I think there’s still a lot of work to be done in the non-Indigenous communities,” she told reporters.
“I’m hoping this will create awareness and lead to prevention of this ongoing tragedy. Speaking to youth is really important, as are as any kinds of activities that can be action oriented and lead towards prevention and awareness.”
While $400,000 was committed for the project’s first year, First Nations and Metis Relations Minister Don McMorris didn’t rule out expanding the program in the future.
“It remains to be seen how this funding is utilized. I’m not saying that into the future we won’t go back into the treasury board and ask for more if there’s strong uptake and really do hit the mark,” he said.
“$40,000 is a good start for any project.”
On how to determine if the fund is a success, McMorris agreed that raising new awareness is key.
“That is priority number one, and increasing education and security within communities,” he said.
“Once we get the projects up and running we’ll have a better understanding of that.”
This year’s application deadline is Dec. 16.
More information about application, including detailed funding criteria, can be found online.