Open Letter: National Coalition Declares Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

June 10, 2021

The Honourable Carolyn Bennet, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services

Government of Canada

 

Dear Ministers,

On behalf of national, regional and local gender justice and human rights organizations, we are in solidarity with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples and honour the memory of the 215 children whose remains were found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. Our hearts are with residential school survivors, their families and all the children who never returned to the homes from which they were taken.

We condemn the genocide enacted by the Canadian government that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls both found Canada responsible for. As feminist intersectional gender justice organizations, we are firmly against the colonial project that is Canada – established on continued actions that break treaties, steal lands and wreak violence on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people – and the eugenic practices that seek to erase the First Peoples of Turtle Island.

We understand that the truths of this past week are not historical but an ongoing violent reality and a stark reminder that all settlers across Canada must act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls 231 Calls for Justice. We call on the federal government to take immediate and concrete action, beginning with implementation of the TRC calls to action 71 through 76 on the Missing Children and Burial Information. This process must be led by the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities affected, and we follow their direction, but we also must demand that the government address the process of uncovering and investigating the sites of burials with seriousness and respect. They must be treated with appropriate care and spiritual attention as the precious remains of families and communities. It is of national importance that in their entirety, all remains are considered as evidence of trauma and genocide that will be addressed legally.

There are serious gaps in the processes and invisibilization within the National Action Plan for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). It does not recognize disabilities as a part of women’s’ identities and lacks actions to support them. And at different stages, it has failed to include Métis women as well as 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples. Until these omissions are addressed, planned action on implementation will fail women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA+ made increasingly vulnerable by these gaps.

Reconciliation is not a passive action but rather one that requires active disruption of colonial practices entrenched in policy and legislation, which continue to harm generations of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. Reconciliation means pursuing justice for Indigenous communities on all fronts.

This includes the speedy passage of Bill C-15 to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the government of Canada. Canada must also put into action all mechanisms needed to fully implement Bill S-3, register the 270,000 First Nations women and their descendants who are now entitled to status, and eliminate all remaining sex-based discrimination from the Indian Act. The government must immediately stop litigating against all First Nations, Métis and Inuit children.

In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found that inequities in Canada’s child welfare services created incentives to remove First Nations children from their homes, families and communities. Dr Marie Wilson, a witness before the CHRT and a former Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, described the harms experienced by First Nations children because of Canada’s underfunding of child welfare services to be comparable to those experienced by survivors of Residential Schools. Canada must immediately comply with the ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordering an end to discrimination against First Nations children in the delivery of child welfare services on reserves and fully implementing The Spirit Bear Plan to end inequalities across all public services. Currently, there are more First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in the child welfare system than there were during the Residential School era.

Canada has been called to act again and again by the First Peoples of Turtle Island, to respect treaties, to move on the recommendations of inquiries, to take concrete steps to change the ongoing racism, misogyny and ableism that is at the heart of the settler colonial project of nation building. We must act. As national, regional and local gender justice and human rights organizations, we are calling for immediate action, not in times of acute need, but in constant reference to the harms being done to First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

We will continue to work towards reconciliation by following the leads of Indigenous governments, communities and partners to work in solidarity and honour the memory of lives lost and harmed.

Signed by:

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
Battered Women’s Support Services
Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Canadian Council of Muslim Women
Canadian Federation of University Women
Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women / L’Institut canadien de recherches sur les femmes CRIAW-ICREF
Canadian Women’s Foundation / Fondation canadienne des femmes
Child Care Now / Un Enfant Une Place
Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice
Colour of Poverty Colour of Change
Disability Justice Network of Ontario
DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada / Réseau d’action des femmes handicapées du Canada
FAFIA / AFAI
Feminists Deliver
Keepers of the Circle
National Association of Women and the Law / L’Association nationale Femmes et Droit
National Council of Women of Canada
New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity
OCASI-Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
Oxfam Canada
Platform
South-Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
The Enchanté Network
West Coast LEAF
WomenattheCentrE
Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) / Fonds d’action et d’éducation juridique pour les femmes (FAEJ)
Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network
Women’s Shelters Canada / Hébergement femmes Canada

Cc The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister
The Honorable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Women and Gender Equality

Support and Resources

National, toll-free 24/7 crisis call lines providing support for anyone who requires emotional assistance related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. You can also access long-term health support services such as mental health counselling, community-based emotional support and cultural services and some travel costs to see Elders and traditional healers.

  • For immediate emotional assistance: 1-866-925-4419
  • Support line for those affected by missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two Spirit and LGBTQQIA+ people: 1-844-413-6649
  • Indigenous Crisis Responder for youth (24 hours/ 7 days per week); 1-880-668-6868, text 686868
  • Indian Residential School Survivors Society https://www.irsss.ca Provides various forms of counselling, health and cultural support, and cultural services to residential school survivors, their families, and those dealing with intergenerational traumas.
  • The KUU-US Crisis Line Society https://www.kuu-uscrisisline.com/ The KUU-US Crisis Line Society is a non-profit registered charity that provides 24-hour crisis services through education, prevention and intervention programs.
  • Assaulted Women’s Helpline CRISIS LINE

GTA 416.863.0511
GTA TTY 416.364.8762
TOLL-FREE 1.866.863.0511
TOLL-FREE TTY 1.866.863.7868
#SAFE (#7233) on your Bell, Rogers, Fido or Telus mobile phone
Seniors Safety Line 1-866-299-1011

  • FEM’AIDE : 1.877.336.2433 &1.866.860.7082 (ATS)
  • SOS Violence conjugale (in Quebec): 1-800-363-9010

If you would like to show support for survivors of the Residential system, and any Indigenous women and gender-diverse people that are facing gender-based violence, you can donate directly to Indigenous-led organizations that are supporting residential school survivors and their families along with language revitalization, cultural and land-based initiatives.

You can find a grassroots organization in your community to donate to or consider donating to the following:

  • New Friendship Centre for the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society https://kafs.ca/ Provides and promotes culturally based, inclusive programs, supports and activities to enhance holistic well-being and pride in Urban Aboriginal Peoples.
  • The Indian Residential School Survivors Society https://www.irsss.ca/ Provides various forms of counselling, health and cultural support, and cultural services to residential school survivors, their families, and those dealing with intergenerational trauma.
  • National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation https://nctr.ca/ & https://umanitoba.ca/community/giving/our-path-reconciliation-and-healing The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of Residential School Survivors, families and communities are honoured and kept safe for future generations.
  • Legacy of Hope Foundation https://legacyofhope.ca/ this is a national Indigenous charitable organization with the mandate to educate and create awareness and understanding about the Residential School System, including the intergenerational impacts such as the removal of generations of Indigenous children from their families, including the Sixties Scoop, the post-traumatic stress disorders that many First Nations, Inuit, and Metis continue to experience, all while trying to address racism, foster empathy and understanding and inspire action to improve the situation of Indigenous Peoples today.
  • Indspire https://indspire.ca/a-statement-from-indspire/ Indspire is a national Indigenous registered charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people for the long term benefit of these individuals, their families and communities, and Canada.

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls “Where We Are At”

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and Girls

“Where We Are At”

On December 8, 2015, the Government of Canada announced the launch of an inquiry to seek recommendations on concrete actions to address and prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls.

The Mandate of the Commissioners:

  1. The commissioners are required to examine and report on the systemic causes behind the violence that Indigenous women and girls experience, and their greater vulnerability to violence, by looking for patterns and underlying factors that explain why higher levels of violence occur. The commissioners have been mandated to examine the underlying historical, social, economic, institutional and cultural factors that contribute to the violence.
  2. The commission will examine practices, policies and institutions such as policing, child welfare, coroners and other government policies/ practices or social/economic conditions.
  3. The commissioners, as part of their mandate, will examine and report on institutional policies and practices that have been put in place as a response to violence, including those that have been effective in reducing violence and increasing the safety of Indigenous women and girls.

We know at Battered Women’s Support Services from extensive experience that over 1,700 recommendations for action have been previously made, and yet only a handful have been put into practice ; Indigenous women and girls in Canada are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence. Although Indigenous women make up 4 per cent of Canada’s female population, 16 per cent of all women murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 were Indigenous. While homicide rates for non-Indigenous women in Canada are declining, the homicide rate for Indigenous women has remained unchanged. Underlying causes, such as socioeconomic factors like poverty and homelessness as well as historical factors like racism, sexism and the legacy of Colonial practices and the impacts and intergenerational impacts of the residential school system are other reasons Indigenous women and girls experience disproportionate rates of violence. To summarize “Canada has a war against our women”

A message from the National Inquiry:

“Our women and girls (including heterosexual, Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered,  queer, and those with disabilities or special needs) are sacred. We would like to recognize every single family member and loved one of the missing or murdered Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S people in Canada. We want to express our deepest sympathies for your loss and we are grateful for every story that you will choose to share with us in the search for truth.”

 

About Battered Women Support Services Involvement:

Battered Women Support Services has been standing in solidarity with Indigenous women across Turtle Island in calling for a National Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada since before British Columbia’s Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry (MWCI). On top of running a crisis line and offering legal, advocacy and counselling services, Battered Womens Support Services is actively involved in a coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls formulated out of the failure of both group and family participation in the MWCI. Our efforts working in western Canada and northwest British Columbia through an initiative called Women’s Leadership and Training brought together Indigenous women to organize local responses to violence toward We are an active long-time member of the February 14th Women’s Memorial March committee to honour Indigenous women who have lost their lives to violence in downtown eastside Vancouver.

 

The Recommendations Battered Women Support Services Made to the Ministers last year about whose voice must be included:

The following groups must have an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the inquiry process:

  • The families, adopted families and families of the heart and community members of Indigenous women and girls who have experienced violence must be able to participate in the inquiry to share their experiences of the broad-reaching impacts of violence as well as how the police and justice system responded to their experiences.
  • Indigenous women and girls who have experienced and/or are currently experiencing violence: Indigenous women must be central participants in the inquiry process, as well as organizations that represent the interests of Indigenous women, people and organizations that work directly with them and those that advocate on their behalf.
  • Women’s-led and women serving organizations, service providers, outreach and support workers, and advocates whose expertise and service mandates in the issues facing murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls must be able to both provide support to and represent women and girls directly affected by the issues.
  • Indigenous communities and Indigenous organizations must be fully included in the inquiry given that they are integrally connected to the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, and have critical and unique experiences that draw upon their intimate first-hand knowledge of the very same racism, sexism and colonialism that the inquiry will be examining.
  • Experts in socio-economic marginalization and systemic discrimination based on race and gender must participate in the inquiry process so that the inquiry can take advantage of existing expertise on these issues.

 

Battered Women Support Services is honored to say we will be applying for standing within the National Inquiry into missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. And would like to encourage and support family members, loved ones, and survivors to reach out and identify themselves to the commission.

 

How to contact the Commission:

Please email the National Inquiry at

[email protected]

Phone: 1-844-348-4119

Include your name, contact information, and location. A member of the team will contact you.

Your testimony is wanted and needed!

 

Battered Women Support Services is dedicated and committed to finding ways of providing support to you if you choose to participate in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls. In addition, we are committed to finding ways to foster, strengthen, support, and encourage Indigenous women who are stepping up and leading in their home communities to provide these essential services and support while walking alongside family members, and survivors through the National Inquiry process and along their healing journey after the Inquiry. If you would prefer to participate with our support in contacting the Commission, please contact our crisis line at 604-687-1867, complete an intake and ask for an appointment with a woman from our Indigenous Women’s Program team.

NEWS RELEASE: Coalition Responds to Launch of National Inquiry

coalition responds national inquiry

Coalition Honours Families and Advocates as Canada Launches National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C.- December 10, 2015) Earlier this week, the Canadian Government announced the launch of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, beginning with pre-inquiry consultation. The Coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls honours families and advocates who fought tirelessly for the national inquiry, and looks forward to participating in the pre-inquiry consultation and the inquiry itself.

The Coalition invites the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women to meet with us as part of the pre-inquiry consultation to be undertaken in British Columbia. Coalition members would also like to invite the ministers to the north to meet with the families and organizations there. The Coalition membership includes representation from families, survivors, Indigenous organizations, front-line service organizations, feminist and women’s organizations, legal advocacy sector, faith-based groups, and provincial organizations. Our breadth of representation and our experience with the Oppal Commission of Inquiry make the Coalition well-positioned to help inform this first stage of the inquiry.

For decades, Indigenous women and supporting organizations called for an inquiry into the disappearances of the many marginalized women from BC and we particularly recognize the hard work and commitment of the February 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee. For twenty-six years, the February 14th Women’s Memorial March has walked to protest the forces of colonization, misogyny, poverty, racism and to celebrate survival, resistance, struggle and solidarity to make women’s resistance visible. We also recognize the hard work of the Indigenous women and communities in Northern BC who have been instrumental in bringing forward the National Inquiry since the Highway of Tears Symposium in 2006.

The Coalition is encouraged that the Government of Canada will begin immediately engaging with survivors, family members and loved ones of victims, women’s groups, as well as National Indigenous, provincial, and territorial representatives, as well as frontline service providers to seek their views on the design and scope of the inquiry. We have provided preliminary recommendations for a sufficiently thorough pre-inquiry consultation process, and advised that the BC Missing Women Commission of Inquiry led by Wally Oppal cannot be used as a model for any aspect of a national inquiry, given its exclusion of key voices, narrow mandate that failed to address root causes, and only partially implemented recommendations.

Learning from BC’s mistakes in the Oppal inquiry, we are asking that family members and organizations with relevant knowledge of the issues be appropriately resourced by Canada to allow for full participation in the process. We also ask that the inquiry mandate meaningfully address root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls, and that Canada put in place resources and mechanisms to ensure that recommendations coming out of the national inquiry will be acted on in a comprehensive way.

The Coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls initially came together in response to the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry in British Columbia overseen by Commissioner Wally Oppal. Unfortunately the groups who formed the Coalition were shut out of the inquiry; however, the Coalition continues to meet regularly to pursue justice for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls and has grown in number and strength.

Media Inquiries:

Amnesty International Canada, Craig Benjamin, (613) 744-7667, ext. 235
Battered Women’s Support Services, Angela Marie MacDougall, (604) 808-0507
BC Assembly of First Nations, Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson, (250) 318-8527
BC Civil Liberties Association, Josh Paterson, (778) 829-8973
Butterflies in Spirit, Lorelei Williams, (778) 709-6498
Canadian Federation of Students- BC, Simka Marshall,
Carrier Sekani Family Services, Mary Teegee, (250) 612-8710
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Tribal Chief Terry Teegee, (250) 640-3256
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Alice Kendall, (604) 681-8480
Ending Violence Association of BC, Christina Entrekin Coad, (604) 633-2506, ext. 13
February 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee, Fay Blaney, (778) 714-0161, Mona Woodward, (778) 714-6448
First Nations Summit, Colin Braker, (604) 328-4094
First United Church, Genesa Greening, (604) 681-8365
Neskonlith Indian Band, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, (250) 319-7383
PACE: Providing Alternatives Counselling & Education Society, Laura Dilley, (604) 872-7651
PHS Community Services Society
Pivot Legal Society, Kevin Hollett, (778) 848-3420
Poverty and Human Rights Centre, Shelagh Day, (604) 872-0750
RainCity Housing, Amelia Ridgway, (604) 662-7023
Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, (250) 490-5314
Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre Society, Lillian Howard, (604) 253-9575
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, Keira Smith-Tague, (604) 872-8212
Union Gospel Mission, Derek Weiss, (604) 253-3323
West Coast LEAF, Kendra Milne, (604) 684-8772
WISH Drop-in Centre Society, Mebrat Beyene, (604) 669-9474
Beverley Jacobs, Jacobs Law, (778) 877-7402
Jenny Kwan, Member of Parliament for Vancouver East
Melanie Mark, BC NDP Candidate Vancouver- Mount Pleasant, contact Nathan Allan, (604) 338-2967

Download the Media Release in PDF format here.

International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day

Resisting the Backlash Against Women’s Human Rights

by Ela Esra Gunad

December 10th is International Human Rights Day, a day to bring attention to the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that states each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights which belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values. It was sixty-six years ago that this milestone document in the history of human rights, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), was adopted.

Where are we as a global community at today in terms of the rights of women?

Every day, all over the world, women and girls continue to face violence and abuse in their homes, schools, workplaces, online, and on the streets. Globally one in three women has experienced abuse or subjected to gender-based violence in their lives.  Here in Canada, every six days a woman is killed by her intimate partner. Women are facing this violence simply because they are women. There are currently 1,181 missing and murdered  Indigenous women and girls throughout Canada due to the historical and present day systemic and social oppressive forces.

Throughout history and still today, there has been an ongoing battle on women’s bodies during times of conflict and warIn Rwanda, between 100,000 and 250,000 women were raped during the three months of Rwandan Genocide in 1994. According to the UN agencies, more than 60,000 women were raped during the civil war in Sierra Leone (1991-2002), more than 40,000 in Liberia (1989-2003), up to 60,000 in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1995), and at least 200,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1998. And, the history repeats itself today from Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq to Syria. Even in the absence of conflict or war, being a woman in these regions is being on continual alert of being harmed or killed. It cannot be ignored that during waves of militarization threaten women’s lives all the more.  Women have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, physically abused, harassed, and tortured in ways you may not even want to imagine.

Living free from violence is a human right, yet millions of women and girls face this violence both in times of peace and in war, at the hands of the state, in the home, and in the community. A vast number of women experience forced migration and have to leave their homelands in order to escape gendered systemic violence including gender oppression, gender persecution, political persecution, femicide, war, economic violence, land theft, and the impacts of colonization and globalization. We know through our support and advocacy work at Battered Women’s Support Services, migrant women have always faced structural barriers and there are many inequalities that migrant women face within Canada’s economic, social, legal, and political systems. It is crucial to understand that human rights are linked to each other and these inequalities often deny the basic rights of migrant women and their families. Freedom of movement and residence within any country is a human right, yet migrant women’s lives continue to be threatened by unsafe alternatives that force them to flee their countries, and once they make it into Canada the immigration process makes them even more vulnerable to further violence by the state, by employers, and within their relationships.

womens-rights-are-human-rights

Violence is one of the most common causes of homelessness for women and children. Our work on homelessness and violence against women shows that women leave their homes because of physical and/or sexual violence. On any given day in Canada, over 8,200 women and children are living in emergency shelters and transition houses to escape violent partners. Every woman and her children are entitled to safe, affordable, and adequate housing, yet many women face homelessness and/or further violence as a result of that. BWSS works very hard to get women into social housing and we know the demand supersedes the available resources.  One women’s shelter reported turning away eight to ten women per day at both of the shelters it operates. At BWSS we know many women with children will do almost anything to avoid sleeping on the streets out of fear of losing their children. With no place to go and not wanting to lose their children, many women stay in the abusive relationship.

This reality will not change until we each own our role in ending violence and do what is in our power to advocate and act ( activism ) to end gender-based violence. Women around the globe are rising against the pandemic of gender based violence, standing in their power, mobilizing and organizing to end all forms of violence against women and girls. From Indigenous women warriors’ who took to social media with #IAmNotNext campaign to women survivors who are standing in their power and coming forward with #WhyIStayed, #WhyILeft, and #WhyIChooseNowtoTellMyStory hashtags; from women of the Arab Spring who carried their voices far and wide on the winds of revolution to women in Nigeria who started #BringBackOurGirls campaign to demand the return of hundreds of kidnapped Nigerian girls.

As it has been said, ending violence against women and girls remains one of the most crucial social issue to be obtained, since it weakens all other efforts towards a future just society. To come to grips with today’s most prevalent human rights violations in world, we have to work together towards a world in which women are safe and free everywhere from their very own intimate environments to the wider world at all times.

In the past 35 years, BWSS has been working on this frontline to end violence against women and making a positive change in the lives of girls, women, families, and communities.

On this International Human Rights Day, we ask you to take an effective action to stop violence against women. We need you to create a future free from violence for all.

Use your power today to end violence against women by:

 

Read more about our 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign:

International Day to End Violence Against Women in Canada

Culture Shifts Recognized as Women’s Group Commemorates 35 years of Work to End Violence Against Women

Women’s Leadership for One Future Without Violence

The Dynamics of Power and Control After Separation in Relation to the Family Law Processes

16 Steps for Discovery and Empowerment 

Decolonizing and Healing Through Ceremonies

The Power of Support Groups at BWSS

Volunteering on BWSS Crisis and Intake Line

Wildflower Women of Turtle Island Drum Group

A Space for Every Woman to Grow

If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?

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Up For Debate – Questions for the Candidates

Up For Debate

Questions for the Candidates

 

Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) has joined Up For Debate, an alliance of over 150 women’s organizations and their allies from across Canada. We are united in raising awareness about women’s rights in the lead up to the 2015 federal election. Up For Debate calls on all political parties to commit to a federal leaders’ debate on issues identified by women, the first in 30 years, and to make meaningful commitments to change women’s lives for the better, at home and abroad by:

  • Ending violence against women
  • Ending women’s economic inequality
  • Supporting women’s leadership and organizations

Battered Women’s Support Services has prepared this document to help shape conversations we will want to have as we approach the Federal Election 2015. This is a living document and will be amended to apply learning.

Violence Against Women, Women’s Homelessness and Housing

Battered Women’s Support Services works to end violence against women and girls.

Violence against women is one of the most pressing social issues and costs over $6 billion annually for Canada. Violence against women is also the leading cause of women’s homelessness and precarious housing in Canada. In 2014, male violence and abuse of women caused over 200,000 women and their children to flee their homes into emergency shelters/transition houses. The lack of safe, affordable housing is one of the reasons why women and their children are forced to stay with unsafe and abusive partners.  Women need access to safe and affordable housing. No woman should be homeless and living on the street.

Q: Will your party develop and implement an effective national strategy to end violence against women, in consultation with women’s and Indigenous anti-violence organizations?

Q: Will your party develop a national housing strategy with emergency, second stage and safe, affordable permanent housing for women?

Q: What measures would your party implement to policies that address the roots of women’s homelessness, precarious housing and street homelessness?

Women’s Access to Justice

BWSS recently held Women Seeking Justice, a conference that convened a former judge, researchers, academics, lawyers, legal advocates, and feminist thinkers to illuminate pressing legal issues for women in law practice and policy including Indigenous, international, immigration, refugee, criminal, family, and poverty. The conference highlighted key problems for women accessing justice under Canadian law, specifically:

 

  • The inability for women to receive legal aid for legal representation in their family law cases
  • The problems for women navigating multiple proceedings (such as criminal law, family law, child protection law, and immigration law) as a dangerous disconnect impacting women’s safety in male violence situations
  • The condemnation of Canada’s response to violence against Indigenous girls and women by the international community specifically missing and murdered Indigenous girls and women
  • Increases in women being arrested and charged for allegedly perpetrating domestic violence against their male partners when there is a long and documented history of male partner’s violence against woman
  • The call for Canada cities to adopt a sanctuary city model for undocumented migrant and immigrants in Canada
  • Redressing the Conditional Permanent Residence requirements under immigration law in recognizing the dangers of making immigration status conditional on living with your spouse poses for women dealing with male violence

Q: Will your party substantially increase legal aid funds dedicated for family law?

Q: What will your party do to address the safety problems for women dealing with male violence forced to navigate multiple proceedings?

Q: Will your party support the call for a national inquiry examining the epidemic of violence against Indigenous girls and women agreeing with the urging of thousands of family members, individuals, women’s groups, communities, First Nations, municipal, provincial and territorial governments, the international community, and human rights organizations?

Q: Will your party support the call for Canadian cities to adopt a sanctuary city model for undocumented immigrants in Canada?

Q: Will your party redress repressive refugee law reforms?

Q: Will your party redress the conditional permanent residence requirements which entrench immigrant women in abusive relationships?

Child Care

BWSS advocates for a national strategy for comprehensive early learning and child care services that are high quality, accessible, publicly managed, not‐for‐profit and an integral part of Canadian social structure.

Q: Does your party support a federal government role in leading development of a national strategy for child care services?

Q: Will your party commit significant dedicated funding to provinces and territories to build universal not-for-profit child care systems?

Q: Will your party increase dedicated federal transfers for child care?

Economic Security for Women

BWSS report on our research Economic Abuse and Violence Against Women highlighted that economic abuse is defined as controlling a woman’s ability to acquire, use, and maintain economic resources. Economic abuse is as common in abusive relationships as physical, sexual and emotional abuse. 100% of the research participants reported experiencing emotional abuse by their partners, 75% had been physically assaulted, 80% had experienced sexual abuse by their partners and 100% had experienced economic abuse. Women also reported that their economic dependency, is also reinforced by societal and systemic gender discrimination that limits or denies women the opportunities to have access to and participate in the labour market and earn equal wages as male counterparts. And this society and systemic gender discrimination was layered with racial discrimination for Indigenous women Immigrant women and Women of Colour who combined formed 40% of the research participants.

Women make up a disproportionate share of low-income Canadians and are particularly vulnerable in any economic crisis. Women account for 72% of part-time employees and approximately two-thirds of Canadians working for minimum wage.  Canada has the highest levels of working mothers (working outside the home) in our recorded history, 36% of mother-led families still have incomes below the poverty line and 43% of children living in a low-income family live with a single, female parent. The median income for single moms is more than a third lower than for single dads.

Q: Does your political party have a policy to ensure Canadians have a guaranteed living income?

Q: What measures would your party implement to improve women’s economic status?

Q: Is your party committed to adopting a national poverty reduction strategy with targets, timelines and a gender lens?

Q: Will your party implement Gender Budget Analysis to ensure taxation and other general government policies do not disproportionately disadvantage women?

Q: How do you propose ending family poverty in Canada? Will you work towards increasing the Child Tax Benefit?

Canada Falling Behind On Gender Equality

Canada is our 23rd-place standing on the UN’s Gender Inequality Index that has caught the attention of the international community.

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/canada-falling-behind-on-gender-equality-299151851.html

Battered Women’s Support Services is a non-partisan women’s organization working to end violence against women and girls while urging men to own their role in ending violence against girls and women.

Battered Women’s Support Services www.bwss.org

Twitter @EndingViolence

UpForDebate

 

Sources:

YWCA Canada, http://ywcacanada.ca/data/documents/00000186.pdf

Ad Hoc Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights, http://www.womensequality.ca/election2008Questions.html, http://ywcacanada.ca/en/advocacy/research/new

Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Election 2011: Questions for Candidates, http://www.elizabethfry.ca/caefs_e.htm

Make Poverty History, Guide for Organizing an All-Candidates Meeting: A Job Interview for “MP to Make Poverty History”, http://www.makepovertyhistory.ca/vote/resources/candidate-meeting-guide

 

You can download Up For Debate – Questions for the Candidates here.

 

You could do something to End Violence Against Women

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#Justice4CindyGladue

#Justice4CindyGladue

Collective Outrage. Unified Voice. Power of Communities.

From St. John’s to Victoria, hundreds across Canada gathered and marched on Thursday, April 2nd calling for justice for Cindy Gladue and all missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

In over 22 places communities expressed collective outrage over the acquittal of Bradley Barton, who walked free of both murder and manslaughter convictions on March 18th after being tried by a jury in Edmonton.

Community organizing for Cindy Gladue across the country and collective outrage influenced Edmonton with its people power.  Crown prosecutors in Alberta filed an appeal late Wednesday afternoon, asserting that Justice Robert Graesser erred in his understanding of motive, manslaughter, admissible evidence, and consent.

We will continue watching Edmonton.

We want justice for Cindy Glaude!

We want justice for all missing and murdered Indigenous Women!

 

April 2, 2015 across Canada ~ Collective outrage. The Unified Voice. Power of Communities.

 Vancouver

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 Algonquin Territory, Ottawa

Ottawa_@JaimeJiggs

Ottawa_@SusanLizMonica

Ottawa1_@DylanPenner

Edmonton

Edmonton_@TheMirandaJimmy

Edmonton2_@TheMirandaJimmy

Edmonton_ @borisproulx

 

Toronto1_@NYSHN

 Calgary/Treaty 7/Blackfoot Confederacy

Calgary_@borisproulx

Calgary3

Calgary1

Calgary

Calgary4

Victoria, on Lkwungen

Victoria_@ColeSayers

Saskatoon

Saskatoon_@DavidShieldcbc

St. John’s, NL

 St. John’s, NL1

St. John’s, NL5

St. John’s, NL3

 

 Regina

REgina

 Kenora/Treaty 3

Kenora_@TaniaCameron

Kenora1_@TaniaCameron

Toronto

Toronto_@TantaTalaga

Toronto3_@connie_walker

Toronto_@NYSHN

Toronto1_@NYSHN

Toronto1_@connie_walker

Toronto_@connie_walker

Toronto

Winnipeg

Winnipeg5

Winnipeg1

Winnipeg

Lac La Biche, Alberta

Lethbridge, Alberta1

Saskatoon Art-In

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Saskatoon Art-In

St. Paul

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