By Amanda Rabski-McColl
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Fort Albany First Nation will receive federal funding for an on-reserve women’s shelter and it is expected to make a big difference for survivors of violence, say officials.
The federal government announced $103 million in funding for 178 transitional housing programs and Indigenous women’s shelters for those fleeing violence on May 8, 2023.
“The shelters and transitional homes will be located on reserve, in the North, and in urban areas, and will offer survivors a stable environment when they need it most,” said Indigenous Services Canada spokesperson, Jennifer Cooper. “The announcement is one of the many actions necessary to end the national crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people, and to provide supports to families, survivors and communities.”
Fort Albany First Nation and Pikangikum First Nation were both named as recipients, along with organizations and First Nations across the country.
“We know for a fact that the women’s shelters in the north are under enormous pressures, lack of funding, lack of resources,” said Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus. “We have women in crisis in upper Treaty 9 who have no place to go, and they’re coming to Timmins to try to get help, so to have them set up in Fort Albany will make a big difference.”
Angus said that there has been a lot of advocacy about these issues, including work from Julie Demarchi from Timmins Women in Crisis, who spoke on these issues in Ottawa recently.
“I think you’ll see some really good work going between the women’s shelter community out of Timmins and Fort Albany,” said Angus. “They’ll be able to support each other.”
StatsCan reports that 44 per cent of Indigenous, Metis and Inuit women experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime, compared to 25 per cent of non-Indigenous women.
Intimate partner violence reports rose during the pandemic, but StatsCan reported in 2022 that the number of incidents has gone up for five years in a row.
“We saw during the pandemic a really frightening rise in violence against women and children,” said Angus. “We know the issue of trafficking is much much darker than most people could have imagined, and the women’s shelters are the front line of this work.”
Cooper highlighted that the programs will be focused on the needs of the communities they serve.
These projects will be Indigenous-led and will offer access to support programming to help survivors of family and gender-based violence access culturally appropriate services to recover from the trauma of their experiences,” she said.
Amanda Rabski-McColl/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/TIMMINSTODAY.COM/LJI is a federally funded program