A memorandum of understanding signed by Premier Christy Clark and MLA John Rustad last week reaffirms the provincial government’s commitment to ending violence against aboriginal women, and to a violence free B.C.
Clark and Rustad, the MLA for Nechako Lakes and the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, signed the memorandum at an event hosted by the First Nations Summit.
They were joined by representatives of the Summit, B.C. Assembly of First Nations, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Metis Nation of British Columbia, as well as members of the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation’s Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women (MACAW) and representatives of First Nations and aboriginal organizations throughout B.C.
This memorandum of understanding coupled with the work of the MACAW ties into the provincial government’s commitment to create a long term solution for violence against all women.
The MACAW set up from the ‘Collaboration to end Violence: National Aboriginal Women’s forum’ in June 2011, with the expectation that the council would provide advice to the provincial government on how to improve the quality of life for aboriginal women in B.C.
The hope is to ensure that vulnerable women have the support they need to prevent and escape from violent situations, along with having solutions for women who have been victims of violent attacks to recover.
“This memorandum of understanding proves that collaboration and partnership is the right path towards a safer future for aboriginal women and girls,” Rustad said.
The issue of violence against women, and in particular aboriginal women is something that the provincial government continues to tackle.
It recently provided $400,000 to the ‘Giving Voice’ initiative, which takes aim at helping aboriginal communities speak out and take action on this issue of violence against women.
The $400,000 was on top of $120,000 giving to the project in 2013/2014.
Some may argue that not enough is being done, a shuttle bus for remote communities along Hwy. 16, a recommendation at the 2006 Highway of Tears symposium strongly recommended be implemented, has yet to come to fruition.
It was an issue that again was brought to light this April during MLA for the North coast Jen Rice toured across Hwy. 16 to raise awareness about the need for such transportation in those communities.
“We must support any and all measures designed to protect indigenous women and girls from abuse, violence and exploitation,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Chiefs, said.
Along with the money provided to the ‘Giving Voice’ initiative, the provincial government has also provided a three-year plan in regard to domestic violence.
In Feb. 2014, the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence release the Provincial Violence Domestic Plan, which calls for $5.5 million to be spent over a three year period.
Of the $5.5 million, $2 million is earmarked to develop and deliver programs, specifically for aboriginal women, men and children affected by domestic violence.
“It is unacceptable that in this day and age, violence against women and girls, and in particular aboriginal women and girls in so prolific in our society,” Cheryl Casimer, director of the First Nations Summit’s political executive, said, “This memorandum of understanding represents a much needed collaborative effort for First Nations, Metis and the provincial government to come together and take concrete actions on stopping violence against aboriginal women and girls.”
For more information on the MACAW please visit, www.gov.bc.ca/arr/social/min_adv_council_on_aboriginal_women.html.
And to see more information on the provincial domestic violence plan visit, www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/podv/dr_pp_booklet.pdf.