The B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) will develop and administer the Path Forward Community Fund, a key part of B.C.’s plan to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people.
The fund advances a top priority identified by Indigenous communities and individuals to end violence against Indigenous women: the need for safety planning and capacity building so communities can create and implement their own culturally safe solutions.
“In keeping with the idea of ‘nothing about us, without us,’ we are looking to the BCAAFC to administer and award the grants to Indigenous communities and organizations,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “The Indigenous-led Path Forward Community Fund is a milestone in our shared journey toward lasting reconciliation and gender equality.”
The BCAAFC will manage the $5.34-million fund to help Indigenous communities and organizations expand safety planning capacity. Eligible projects include support for hosting planning sessions, culturally appropriate safety training as well as healing and cultural supports.
The fund advances Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and actions the government commitment made in A Path Forward: Priorities and Early Strategies for B.C., the Province’s plan to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people. Indigenous-led engagement sessions prioritized the need for safe spaces and safety plans that allow communities to implement their own solutions.
With 25 Friendship Centres throughout B.C. and a 50-year track record of supporting urban Indigenous communities, the BCAAFC is accessible to diverse populations, and has the required community connections, geographical reach and understanding of the causes of violence against women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people.
“BC Friendship Centres play a critical and direct role at a grassroots level in eradicating pervasive, systemic violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people,” said Leslie Varley, executive director, BCAAFC. “It’s inspiring to work with safety advocates empowering their communities. We look forward to continuing this important work in investing in community resilience, self-determination and reconciliation.”
The fund will be accessible to support First Nation communities, urban/off reserve communities, Métis citizens, Inuit and 2SLGBTQ+ communities.
The fund aligns with work by the ministry and the parliamentary secretary for gender equity to develop an action plan to end gender-based violence, including Budget 2022’s $22 million in stable funding for sexual assault centres. This funding builds upon $20 million provided through the Ending Violence Association of B.C. for regional emergency sexual assault services. The Path Forward is also reflected in Action 3.8 of B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan, which was released on March 30, 2022.
Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“Together, we are working to make B.C. a place where Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people enjoy full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination. Community-led solutions align with the Declaration Act Action Plan and our commitment to work with Indigenous Peoples on how to move forward.”
Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport –
“Today, our government is responding to a call to action from advocates, family members and survivors to prioritize the safety and human rights of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals. I know the BCAAFC will work directly at a grassroots level to honour the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples as Nations and groups work to implement holistic approaches that put their community needs first.”
Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity –
“Safety plans, response and prevention measures established at the community level acknowledge that the people who know the issues and have the relationships are best able to help survivors, and facilitate healing and prevention. I am so grateful to B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres for their leadership and for supporting our work with their community connections.”
- The federal government established the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in 2016 to examine and report on systemic causes of violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls, with a final report issued in 2019.
- In conjunction with the release of the National Action Plan, B.C. released the Path Forward and a report on 2019 and 2021 Indigenous community engagements.
- In addition to core funding for sexual assault centres, the government is developing a gender-based violence action plan that will include minimum standards for sexual assault response and more training for justice personnel.
For more information on the Path Forward, visit:
To read Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, visit: https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/
To learn more about the BCAAFC, see: https://bcaafc.com/about-us/