More than 200 delegates representing the provinces, territories and First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations gathered in downtown Vancouver from June 15 to 17 to attend the Collaboration to End Violence: National Aboriginal Women's Forum.
The forum was co-hosted by B.C.'s Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC). It brought together federal, provincial and territorial ministers and government representatives, leaders of National Aboriginal Organizations and front-line workers and service providers who assist First Nations, including status and non-status, Métis and Inuit women regardless of where they live, who are at risk or have been the victims of violence. Families of missing and murdered women also participated. The forum's mandate was to highlight leading examples, processes and collaborations that can help eliminate violence against Aboriginal women.
"Violence against First Nations, Métis and Inuit women and girls is a subject of concern for all Canadians," said Mary Polak, B.C. Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. "This important forum has allowed delegates to exchange ideas, experiences and information on leading practices in a safe environment. I believe that the understanding and outcomes from this forum will provide a valuable step forward to create positive actions to stop violence against Aboriginal women wherever it occurs."
"Our deep concern is for the safety and well being of our women, our girls, our families and our communities," said Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, President of the Native Women's Association of Canada. "This is clearly shown by the efforts of the delegates at this forum, and in the work that they do every day at their jobs and in their communities. I believe that one day First Nations, Métis and Inuit mothers and fathers will be able to live without worrying about their daughters becoming victims of violence. The delegates at this forum came together to take a solid step forward - by continuing to work together we will achieve this goal."
During the forum, delegates shared knowledge and leading practices, with the aim of applying their learning experience to their own jurisdictions and organizations to end violence against First Nations, Métis and Inuit women. Delegates heard directly from provincial and territorial representatives and national Aboriginal leaders about their views on current actions and next steps to address this national problem.
The outcomes from the forum will be presented to Premiers and National Aboriginal Organization leaders at their next meeting in Vancouver in July.
Key highlights of the forum included:
Panel presentations and workshops on post incident support, intervention and prevention.
- Provinces, territories, the federal government, National Aboriginal Organizations and service agencies must work together to end violence against Aboriginal women and girls.
- Work collaboratively toward overcoming the social and economic challenges that contribute to vulnerability and violence in the lives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women and girls.
- The forum began with a public ceremony in Crab Park in Vancouver to recognize the murdered and missing women and girls and their families across Canada, and to celebrate the strength and courage of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women.
- The National Aboriginal Women's Forum included delegates from across Canada: provincial, territorial and federal governments and National Aboriginal Organizations - Assembly of First Nations, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Native Women's Association of Canada, Métis National Council/Women of the Métis Nation Les Femmes Michif Otipimisiwak, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and the National Association of Friendship Centres.
- The Forum was a key action item of the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group which is made up of provincial and territorial ministers and leaders of five National Aboriginal Organizations (Assembly of First Nations, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Native Women's Association of Canada, Métis National Council/Women of the Métis Nation Les Femmes Michif Otipimisiwak and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami [with Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada]).
- According to Statistics Canada's 2009 General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization, nearly 67,000, or 13 per cent of Aboriginal women aged 15 or older who lived in the provinces, self-reported that they had been the victim of one or more violent crimes in the 12 months prior to the survey. Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of Aboriginal female victims were aged 15 to 34.
- Results from the 2009 GSS indicate that most violent incidents are not reported to police. Among non-spousal violent incidents involving Aboriginal women, over three-quarters (76 per cent) were not reported to police.
For further information:
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
259 361-7720 (cell)
Claudette Dumont Smith
Native Women's Association of Canada
613 894-0576 (cell)