Ending Violence Against Aboriginal Women:
Violence Prevention & Intervention
Battered Women’s Support Services offers culturally appropriate services run by Aboriginal women for Aboriginal women. Aboriginal Women’s Program offers direct services through drum groups, counselling, Elder’s and support groups and different ceremonies such as full moon and sweat lodge ceremonies. We are decolonizing and healing from the trauma of colonization, the effects and intergenerational effects of residential school, the loss of our children, and living life in a patriarchal society. By using holistic practices through traditional medicines and ceremonies, we are healing from these traumas and reclaiming our rightful roles as strong Aboriginal women in our community, finding our voices and standing strong in our power.
- Counselling: BWSS provides free support services, by phone or in person with a trained counsellor/advocate, for any adult woman who has been abused in an intimate relationship.
- Advocacy: BWSS Advocates support women who are dealing with systems like the legal system, social assistance, child protection, unemployment or pension, medical system or the Indian Act.
- Training for Service Providers: BWSS offers workshops for service providers on counseling, advocacy skills, and emerging issues on support for women who have experienced violence.
- Support Groups: Groups support is the cornerstone of BWSS. They are intrinsic to empowerment and empowerment is at the heart of healing from the oppression of abuse and violence. At any given time there are 10 support groups running throughout Greater Vancouver, supporting 8 to 15 women each. A few of our groups include: drop-in Support Groups, Women Seeking Safety Counseling, and Trauma Recovery and Empowerment.
Crisis Line 604-687-1867
Business Line 604-687-1868
First Nations Women’s Crisis Worker/Victim Support Worker
- Assists Aboriginal women to understand and navigate the different systems, advocacy with social workers, police officers, medical appointments, housing, court personal, and court accompaniment to MCFD, family court, criminal court, and provide information on the court procedures.
- Provides advocacy with MCFD and assists women with legal information and support with any child protection concerns
- Provides short-term crisis counselling that includes safety planning and referrals to transition houses and other resources
- Provides support with Indian Residential School forms and referrals to treatment
- Update women on current information with Indian Residential Schools and transfer of the delegated Aboriginal authorities on BC Aboriginal children in care.
First Nations Women’s Stopping the Violence(STV) Counsellor
- Provides counselling to assist women with the effects of trauma, safety planning, feelings awareness, inner child work and loss of cultural identity
- Facilitates groups and counselling groups including Healing from Trauma through Empowerment, Abuse in Relationships, Inside the Circle Healing for Women survivors of Residential School and foster care
The Outreach Team
- To reach women who are in the greatest need & harder to reach due to inability to access resources.
- Women who are at risk due to health issues such as HIV/AIDS, homelessness, violence and or addiction issues
- Creating connections
- Social Justice
SISTER’S EMPOWERMENT TALKING CIRCLE GROUP
- Women will learn are how to find balance within themselves and self-awareness of their own healing process.
- Strengthen their families and future generations. The content of this program assists women to have a better understanding by acknowledging the past and help them to recognize their strengths as survivors.
WILDFLOWER WOMEN OF TURTLE ISLAND DRUM GROUP
- A hand drum group to heal from trauma, find our voices, and stand strong in our power through drumming and singing.
- Aboriginal women come together every Thursday from 6 pm to 8 pm in Women of Turtle Island Drum Group.
BWSS Drop-in At the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center
Battered Women’s Support Services group is held at the Downtown East side Women’s Center located at 302 Columbia street and is open to ALL women who have experienced violence. Many of the women who attend this group are First Nations. The drop-in group begins with supper served at 5PM and group begins at 6PM- 8PM.
In this group women have the opportunity to:
- Meet other women who share common experiences
- Receive emotional support, advocacy, information and practical help
- Explore their situation and make decisions in a supportive & non-judgmental atmosphere
Women may drop in for as many sessions as they wish. No pre-registration is needed. Bus tickets will be provided.
Women’s Leadership & Training Initiative
In Canada, Aboriginal women are five times more likely than other women to die as a result of violence, and the numbers of Aboriginal women who go missing without a trace are staggering. This is perhaps best known in Vancouver as a result of the disappearances of over 60 women from the Downtown Eastside. It is also being recognized as an issue in Northern BC on the ‘Highway of Tears’ where at least 18 women and girls have vanished. Western Canada has a much higher incidence of missing and murdered women than other parts of the country. The four western provinces of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have 33% of the population of our country but 77% of the missing women.
In response to this crisis, Amnesty International has tabled two reports – Stolen Sisters (2004) and No More Stolen Sisters (2009). As well, women in Vancouver launched the annual Women’s Memorial March to honour the lives of women that have been lost to violence, raise public awareness, and pressure our police and our government to act. Battered Women’s Support Services has been involved in organizing the Vancouver Women’s Memorial March since 1995. These marches have spread across the country and are now held in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria.
In British Columbia, Battered Women’s Support Services provides services for Aboriginal women to heal, strengthens their leadership on violence prevention in their communities, and creates opportunities for women to be heard.
Women’s Leadership Training Initiative in Northwest/NorthCoast British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, is based on curriculum that BWSS developed through a pilot project with Aboriginal women on the Northwest coast of British Columbia. Through this project, BWSS works with local Aboriginal women and/or organizations hold workshops with Aboriginal women to develop women’s leadership on violence prevention so that women can build on our knowledge to seek their own healing and contribute to the healing of their communities.
Through the Initiative, participants receive as a strong theoretical base and specific skills. Workshops participants will in turn empower other Aboriginal women through:
- Presentation skills to raise the issues of violence with community leadership
- Support skills so that they can support survivors who turn to them for support
- Group facilitation skills so that they can provide support groups for survivors and mobilize women to speak out in their own communities
- Knowledge to act as a resource to women in the cities and in surrounding reserves
Working in alliance with women in the North Coast/Northwest BC as well as women chairs were responsible for coordinating the Women’s Memorial March Committees in Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg in 2010 and is strengthening direct links to the Aboriginal communities within these provinces to support their community leadership on social change and preventing violence. This initiative integrates local ideas, knowledge, culture, and experience to develop and deliver the Women’s Leadership and Training Initiative.
Silent No More
A picture montage by Shelley Cook from the Women’s Memorial March, held in Winnipeg, MB Canada on Sunday, May 9, 2010, to honour the reported almost 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.
Song: Silent No More by Little Hawk
Addressing Violence Against Aboriginal Women
Addressing Violence Against Aboriginal Women, written by Jamie Cooper and Tanisha Salomons for Battered Women’s Support Services, contains a comprehensive annotated bibliographies of resources that examine structural and causative issues that lead to abductions and murders of Aboriginal women in Canada and also literature which addresses issues in policy, legislation and investigations into disappearances and murders of women.
Battered Women’s Support Services calls for anti-violence services rooted in historical understandings of colonial violence and informed by Aboriginal women.
Native Women’s Association of Canada calls for Reduction of Violence, Reduction of Poverty, Reduction of Homelessness and Access to Housing, Improved Access to Justice.
2006 Highway of Tears Symposium calls for Victim Prevention, Community Development and Support, Emergency Planning and Response, Victim Family and Counselling Support.
Indian Residential Schools
Are you a woman who is a survivor of an Indian Residential School, or a family member of a survivor of an Indian Residential School? If so, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement provides programs for survivors and their family members.
The Indian Act & Aboriginal Women’s Empowerment by Katrina Harry.
Royal Commission on Violence Against Aboriginal Girls and Women
In consultation with the University of Calgary Moot team and in preparation for the 2011 Kawaskimhon Moot held in Vancouver from March 5-7, 2011, Battered Women’s Support Services initiated a call for a Royal Commission on Violence against Aboriginal Girls and Women. A royal commission has the ability to address the historic, social, legal, economic, child welfare and political challenges facing Aboriginal girls and women across Canada, while recognizing that violence against Aboriginal girls and women is a grave national concern.
In order to redress systemic inequality and to eliminate this violence, BWSS stresses that there is a responsibility by all to address this issue. BWSS is recommending this Royal Commission on Violence Against Aboriginal Girls and Women not only to address the gaps and to address issues affecting Aboriginal women and girls, but to also make concrete and specific recommendations to end violence against Aboriginal women and girls at a national level.
Read the entire document here.
BWSS Aboriginal Women’s Program is funded by Ministry of Housing and Social Development, Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General-Crime Prevention Victim Service Division, and The City of Vancouver.