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Community ᐄᐦᑖᐧᐃᓐ

Ottawa’s $103M initiative for Indigenous women’s shelters

BY Sakib Hossain Jun 16, 2023

Responding to the urgent need for safe spaces for Indigenous women, children and 2SLGBTQI+ individuals escaping gender-based violence, the federal government is committing $103 million in funding for the construction and support of 178 new shelter spaces and transitional houses across 21 communities. 

Indigenous-led committees will evaluate applications and select projects for this part of Ottawa’s Violence Prevention Strategy in collaboration with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). The selection process should ensure shelters and transitional homes are culturally appropriate.

CMHC allocated $81 million toward construction costs, while ISC committed $15 million for operational support and $7.8 million for start-up expenses. The aim is to create stable and safe housing solutions for survivors during their journeys to recovery and targets regions most in need of resources.

Statistics produced by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls show that Indigenous women were almost six times more likely to face a violent death than non-Indigenous women in 2014. The new funding responds to some of the inquiry’s calls for action.

Senator Michèle Audette, a prominent advocate for Indigenous women’s rights, noted that the funding is not a singular solution. “It’s not just a few places that we will say and mark, ‘Check, we’re okay now,’” she said. “For me, it is an ongoing call for justice.” 

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said the investment will make a difference. “This is going to be a game-changer. It is going to save lives,” he said. 

This sentiment was echoed by Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, who acknowledged that more work remains. “I know that there’s way more that we need to do with housing,” she remarked. “But this is a very important piece.”

The establishment of bilateral agreements with provinces and territories, facilitated by Women and Gender Equality Canada, further underscores the commitment to a comprehensive and coordinated approach to ending gender-based violence.

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