National Symposium on Intersections of Violence Against Women and Precarious Immigration Status

National Symposium on Intersections of Violence Against Women and Precarious Immigration Status

June 5, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario Canada

On June 5, 2014, the Migrant Mothers Project and Woman Abuse Council of Toronto will host a National Symposium to address how immigration policy changes are impacting immigrant women’s safety and rights and Battered Women’s Support Services is thrilled to be involved in this important event at this critical time.  The symposium brings together thought and practice leaders who work in immigration settlement, ending violence against women, immigration and refugee law and advocates for temporary foreign workers.

Battered Women’s Support Services is looking forward to collaborating again with Migrant Mothers Project to illuminate how forced migration is gendered and in that gendering exposes women to a broad spectrum of violence.  BWSS Rosa Elena Arteaga will present “Immigration Policy Does Not Recognize the Spectrum of Violence Against Women”.  And as she wrote last November in Women are continually forced to leave their land and migrate to a foreign country where they will be discriminated against based on their social location. Racialized and marginalized migrant women face the most oppressive and unsafe alternatives to flee from their countries and they, are not just simply allowed to enter Canada, they are screened and chosen based on the immigration laws and the policies implemented by the current governmental administration.

Once a migrant woman makes it into Canada, she might have been trafficked-or she might have come as a refugee claimant, through sponsorship, on visitor’s visa, under temporary work permit or undocumented, among other alternatives.  Her immigration status will play a huge role on the level of barriers and oppression that she will face as well as the services available to her. Many migrant girls and women will continue experiencing all forms of violence such as physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse from intimate partners, family members or extended family. The process of migration and a precarious immigration status makes girls and women more vulnerable to experience further violence, by the state, by employers, and within their relationships.

With this in mind, we, at Battered Women Support Services support migrant women with precarious immigration status, non-status, refugee claimants and permanent residents who have or are experiencing violence. We are strongly committed to understanding and recognizing that migrant women don’t “just come” to Canada, migrant women flee from their countries under extreme circumstances and with an immense need for support to overcome the impacts of gendered violence, the impact of migration and the complex process of adaptation.  We have taken many steps to ensure that we provide the appropriate support but also that we affect systemic change.

Here’s more about the National Symposium and Migrant Mother’s Project

For details go to: http://migrantmothersprojectsymposium.weebly.com/

Register at: http://migrantmothersprojectsymposium.weebly.com/

June 5th 2014 Symposium Poster Invitation Final-page-001

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

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Lucia Vega Jimenez – and the Many Women with Precarious Immigration Status

Lucia Vega Jimenez

and the many women with precarious immigration status

by Rosa Elena Arteaga

BWSS Manager, Direct Service and Clinical Practice

Lucia Vega Jimenez lived and worked in Metro Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories.  On December 28, 2013, Lucia strangled herself while in custody at Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) at Vancouver International Airport awaiting deportation to Mexico. News of Lucia’s death one month ago was only made public Monday, January 27, 2014, though the news of her death has been buzzing through the community for some time. The confirmed factual record about Lucia’s death is thin and what we do know is well documented and raises very serious and troubling concerns about CBSA practices.  The calls for an independent and thorough inquiry including a coroner’s inquest would be essential in order to get to the facts and to ensure this never happens again.

Another part of the unconfirmed fact pattern in Lucia’s situation is the presence of a male partner (boyfriend). There are reports that he allegedly alerted CBSA to her precarious immigration status and failed to bail her out of detention. In addition, he allegedly stole the money she had been saving from her job as a hotel cleaner.

As reported by Andrea Woo in The Global and Mail, Lucia Vega Jimenez was fearful of being deported due to a “domestic situation” at home, according to the Mexican consulate in Vancouver.

“She was fearful of going back to Mexico – not to the country, but specifically to some domestic situation that she might face.” Claudia Franco Hijuelos, Consul-General of Mexico

 

An image of the Canadian border

The interconnections between gender violence, gender persecution and precarious immigration status have been well established through our work at Battered Women’s Support Services and as a woman from Mexico, Lucia’s life, death, work, and precarious immigration status are red flags for us.

In our experience working with migrant women we understand that a vast number of women experience forced migration and leave their homelands in order to escape very gendered systemic violence.  We are talking about a broad spectrum of violence that girls and women face through their lives which includes gender oppression, gender persecution, political persecution, femicide, war, economic violence, land theft, and the impacts of colonization and globalization. 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. These inequalities often deny the basic rights of migrant women and their families. Racialized and marginalized migrant women face the most oppressive and unsafe alternatives to fleeing from their countries.  They are not just simply allowed to enter Canada. More often than not they are screened out through the application of immigration policies and laws.

Once a migrant woman makes it into Canada, she may have been trafficked-or she may have come as a refugee claimant, through sponsorship, on visitor’s visa, under temporary work permit, or undocumented among other alternatives.  Many migrant girls and women will continue to experience all forms of violence such as physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse from intimate partners, family members, and/or extended family. The process of migration and precarious immigration status makes girls and women more vulnerable to experience further violence by the state, by employers, and within their relationships.

In relation to Lucia’s case, we acknowledge her fear of deportation which would force her to return to her country of origin, Mexico, and force her to face what she was fleeing. Many reports have been released about violence against women in Mexico and the increase of violence in there where over 50,000 people have died under “the war on drugs” for the last six years.

Ecatepec de Morelos

 

It is virtually impossible for a Mexican woman to escape from violence and to make it into Canada, a country known to offer protection to people who are being persecuted, including those who experience gendered persecution. We have learned of several migrant Mexican women who have been deported and murdered in Mexico upon their return.  A number of Mexican women who seek refuge in Canada have been rejected because according to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), “Mexico has a system of functioning democratic institutions”. Nevertheless, according to a UN report Mexico was ranked first globally in sexual violence against women, reporting 120, 000 violations in 2010. The Ministry of Health estimates that in Mexico one woman every four minutes is raped, yet to date there is no comprehensive care for the victims, because there is no effective follow-up cases. In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, since 1990 women continue to be murdered and go missing.  2012 was one of the years with the highest femicides in that city.

According to the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNODC) and the Trafficking in Persons Report of the Department of State United States of America, Mexico is listed as a source, transit, and destination for trafficking in persons. Just in the state of Mexico, between 2005 and 2010, 89% of femicide cases have been unresolved. As violence against women continues in Mexico, whether because of the war on drugs or gendered violence, the country has been desensitized regarding violence and has forgotten about protecting its own citizens.

In response to The Balanced Refugee Reform Act (Bill C-11) in 2011, Battered Women’s Support Services published an article on Gender Persecution and Law Reform in Canada. At the time we expressed our concerns about the possible consequences of these reforms on women whose fear of persecution relates to their gender. Many of the comments about the possible consequences for women refugee claimants would also apply to refugee claimants, generally, who are severely traumatized and vulnerable.  We exposed that instead of making it easier for the most vulnerable claimants to present their stories, in our view, the amendments to Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) under Bill C-11 and the proposed regulations would make it much more likely that the full facts of these types of cases would not be presented to refugee decision-makers therefore severely impacting the refugee claim.

The proposed regulations also deemed that for a country to be named a “Designated Country of Origin (DCO)“ the Minister of Citizenship of Immigration would consider a number of factors, including the opinion of a panel of experts on human rights. Government of Canada defines DCOs as countries where it is less likely for a person to be persecuted compared to other areas in the world, and also countries that respect human rights and offer state protection. Mexico is on the list of “Designated Country of Origin”. Mexico has “one of the highest rates of gender violence in the world, with 38 percent of Mexican women affected by physical, sexual or psychological abuse, compared with 33 percent of women worldwide.” We believe that this provision does not reflect the reality in Mexico and it is already having a detrimental impact on groups like women who have experienced gender related persecution.

Ultimately, we strongly believe that there are systemic policies and practices that deny a fair process to refugee claimants and they need to be changed. In addition, we want to join a call for an independent, civilian investigation to review Lucia Vega’s refugee claim and a thorough investigation on her detention and her death as well as a comprehensive review of migrant detention policies.

We have learned that the detention center at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) it is the only one of its kind that does not allow lawyers to visit detainees. As an organization that works to end gender violence, we believe that lawyers and women’s advocates must be permitted to visit all CBSA holding cells including the YVR facility in order to provide the adequate legal and emotional support to people in detention.

There are serious questions being raised and we echo the call for a civilian inquiry and coroner’s inquest into the tragic death of Lucia Vega Jimenez.

 

Please read and share these links and also the petition:

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Petition: Migrant dignity, not migrant death! Order full independent civilian inquiry & investigation into Lucia Vega Jimenez’s death

https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/migrant-dignity-not-migrant-death-minstevenblaney-bccoroner-order-a-full-transparent-independent-civilian-inquiry-and-investigation-into-lucia-s-death http://chn.ge/1kavtbV

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“Coroner confirms woman in CBSA custody attempted suicide. Lucia Vega Jimenez died eight days later in Vancouver hospital”

Read more: http://www.news1130.com/2014/01/29/coroner-confirms-woman-in-cbsa-custody-attempted-suicide/

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“She had no family, no close friends and worked illegally as a hotel cleaner, sending all her earnings to support her ailing mother in Mexico.

In the week before her suicide last month in a Canadian Border Services holding cell, the 42-year-old Vancouver woman was despondent.”

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Mexican+woman+died+after+CBSA+arrest+hanged+herself+rather+than+deported/9442230/story.html#ixzz2ruJyWxco

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“The organizations below call on the BC Coroners Service to hold an inquest in the death of Ms. Vega Jiménez.  We also call on the Government of Canada to immediately appoint an independent public inquiry into the death of Ms. Vega Jiménez”

Read more: http://ccrweb.ca/en/organizations-demand-accountability-border-services-death-custody

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“Karla Lottini, is a freelance journalist from Mexico, has been following the news of Jimenez’s detainment and death closely. She told CBC News that being on the verge of deportation can make people desperate.

“It’s like you are not wanted, like you don’t belong, like you don’t deserve to stay in a safe place,” she said.

Josh Paterson, with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, questioned why Jimenez’s death was only made public now.”

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/lucia-jimenez-s-death-in-cbsa-custody-raises-questions-1.2513599

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“The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says it wonders what took so long and whether there have been other in-custody deaths with the Canada Border Services Agency that have not been reported.”

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/lucia-vega-jimenez-found-hanging-in-cbsa-shower-stall-1.2515956

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“McLintock said there have been “very, very few” CBSA in-custody deaths in B.C. An inquest may be ordered into Jimenez’s death, which RCMP has concluded was not criminal in nature. Both BC Civil Liberties Association and No One Is Illegal are calling for an independent civilian inquiry.”

Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/mexican-womans-death-in-cbsa-custody-sparks-call-for-accountability/article16601293/

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“Nobody should die while they are in the custody of law enforcement. The Canada Border Services Agency must be accountable for this tragic death of a woman who was in their care and custody. The public needs answers. How did this happen? Could this tragedy have been prevented?”

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Mexican+woman+died+after+detainment+Canada+Border+Services/9442230/story.html

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Mexico is Number one in sexual violence against women: according to the UN

Read more: http://usopenborders.com/2011/12/mexico-is-number-one-in-sexual-violence-against-women-according-to-the-un/

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Refugee advocates are calling for civilian oversight of the Canada Border Services Agency after a Mexican woman who had been working in a hotel died in hospital following her detention in the immigration holding centre at Vancouver airport.

Read more: http://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/2014/01/30/refugees_death_prompts_call_for_civilian_oversight_of_border_agency.html?app=noRedirect

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“The immigration detention centre at YVR is shrouded in secrecy and is the only one of its kind in Canada that does not allow lawyers to visit detainees.”

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/touch/story.html?id=9451549

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Publications & Resources

Gender Persecution and Refugee Law Reform in Canada

Read more:

https://www.bwss.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/GENDER-PERSECUTION-and-REFUGEE-LAW-REFORM-IN-CANADA_2.pdf

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Empowering Refugee and Immigrant Women Who Experience Violence

BWSS has embarked on several initiatives to facilitate change in our communities and to end violence against women. Empowering Non-Status, Refugee and Immigrant Women (NSRIW) Who Experience Violence – A woman-centred approach to managing the spectrum of needs from settlement to empowerment manual- is one of them. Though not meant to be conclusive, it is written as an exploration of ideas, to present recurring issues and to critique existing practices.

Read more: https://www.bwss.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/NSRIW-MANUAL.pdf

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The Resource Manual For Lawyers Working With Battered Immigrant Women

The lawyers’ toolkit provides lawyers with practical tools which will foster effective communication with and legal representation of battered Immigrant women. The toolkit emphasizes the importance of placing women within a larger social context by providing a broad analysis of the various social and psychological factors impacting Immigrant women’s lives. More importantly, this resource offers practical tools and strategies for lawyers.

Read more: https://www.bwss.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Toolkit-for-Lawyers_EIWITLS.pdf

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The Resource Manual For Immigrant Women Working With A Lawyer

The Toolkit for Immigrant Women Working with a Lawyer provides practical tips and tools for Immigrant women working with lawyers. The toolkit is framed in the cultural background of Immigrant women; it is designed to be accessible and informative. Currently the toolkit will be translated into Farsi, Spanish and Punjabi.

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For Immigrant Women: Online Publications & Resources for Immigrant Women

This is a list of legal publications and resources that are available online through external websites; they are helpful for immigrant women who are negotiating the legal system in BC.

Read more: https://www.bwss.org/support/law-reform/legal-resources/for-immigrant-women/

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Community Forum on Responding to Changes to Immigration Policy

Read more: https://www.bwss.org/community-forum-on-responding-to-changes-to-immigration-policy/

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Engaging Immigrant Women in the Legal System-Community Engagement Report

Read more: https://www.bwss.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/engagingimmigrantwomenfinalreport.pdf

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Women, Violence and BC’s New Family Law: Applying a Feminist Lens

Read more: https://www.bwss.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/WomenViolenceBCsNewFamilyLawPanelMarch-2012-new.pdf

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Proposal for Conditional Permanent Residence Would Increase Violence Against Women

Read more: https://www.bwss.org/proposal-for-conditional-permanent-residence-would-increase-violence-against-women/

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When Battered Women Are Arrested: A Growing Problem

In recent years, Battered Women’s Support Services has become increasingly alarmed by the growing number of women accessing our services who have been arrested for allegedly perpetrating domestic violence against their partners. In our experience these arrests are occurring despite the fact that in all cases women were in relationships where they were being abused.

Read more: https://www.bwss.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/womens-arrest-toolwomen-web1.pdf

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Women’s Worlds 2011–Breaking the Cycles of Violence Against Women

Read more: https://www.bwss.org/proposal-for-conditional-permanent-residence-would-increase-violence-against-women/

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Conflict Profiles: Mexico
Read more: https://womensmediacenter.com/women-under-siege/conflicts/mexico

Community Forum on Responding to Changes to Immigration Policy: Supporting Non-Status, Refugee and Immigrant Women Survivors of Gender Violence

by Rosa Elena Arteaga, BWSS Manager of Direct Services and Clinical Practices

On November 15th 2013, Battered Women’s Support Services hosted a Community Forum on Responding to Changes to Immigration Policy, in partnership with The Migrant Mothers Project and YWCA Metro Vancouver. Over 50 front-line workers, counsellors, settlement workers, and community activists came together to learn and share knowledge. We reinforced our commitment to continue our collaboration and to increase our networks so we can affect change and attend to the inequalities that migrant women face within Canada’s economic, social, legal and political systems. Inequalities that, more than often, deny basic rights to migrant women and their families.

community forum Panelists Andrea Vollans, Legal Educator YWCA,  Metro Vancouver, Rupaleem Bhuyan, Assistant Professor Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, Darla Tomeldan, Legal Advocate, West Coast Domestic Workers Association, Ai Li Lim, Executive Director and Staff Lawyer, West Coast Domestic Workers Association and Rosa Elena Arteaga, Manager of Direct Service and Clinical Practice, Battered Women’s Support Services discussed:

  • The many barriers that women and children with precarious immigration status face in Canada and how we can find safety and support for them
  • To learn how recent changes to immigration policy are impacting women and children
  • The growing number of mothers without legal status, many of whom have been victims of violence
  • How women’s and community organizations across the province are supporting migrant mothers by addressing the systemic oppression that women face

community forum

We were very excited to collaborate with the Migrant Mother’s Project, participatory action research project working with community based organizations in Toronto, Ontario to improve the lives of migrant women and their children. The Migrant Mothers Project explores how women with precarious immigration status in Canada seek safety and support from abuse for themselves and their children at times when accessing services is vital to their well-being.

With the aim of understanding women’s migration and gendered violence, first of all, we have to acknowledge that there is a war against girls and women all over the world. From the moment a woman is born and her gender is defined as female, she will be oppressed and discriminated against. Migrant women flee from their countries for many reasons and one of the main reasons is the dismantling of their land. “Women play a significant role in agriculture, the world over. About 70% of the agricultural workers, 80% of food producers, and 10% of those who process basic foodstuffs are women and they also undertake 60 to 90% of the rural marketing; thus making up more than two-third of the workforce in agricultural production.*” Colonization, globalization and the domination of natural resources have taken away women’s land ownership, access to and control over their own land.

Furthermore, force migration is prompted by women’s experiences of gender violence and a broad spectrum of violence that girls and women face through their lives, which includes gender oppression, gender persecution, political persecution, femicide, war, economic violence and the impacts of colonization and globalization.

Women are continually forced to leave their land and migrate to a foreign country where they will be discriminated against based on their social location. Racialized and marginalized migrant women face the most oppressive and unsafe alternatives to flee from their countries and they, are not just simply allowed to enter Canada, they are screened and chosen based on the immigration laws and the policies implemented by the current governmental administration.

Once a migrant woman makes it into Canada, she might have been trafficked-or she might have come as a refugee claimant, through sponsorship, on visitor’s visa, under temporary work permit or undocumented, among other alternatives.  Her immigration status will play a huge role on the level of barriers and oppression that she will face as well as the services available to her. Many migrant girls and women will continue experiencing all forms of violence such as physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse from intimate partners, family members or extended family. The process of migration and a precarious immigration status makes girls and women more vulnerable to experience further violence, by the state, by employers, and within their relationships.

With this in mind, we, at Battered Women Support Services support migrant women with precarious immigration status, non-status, refugee claimants and permanent residents who have or are experiencing violence. We are strongly committed to understanding and recognizing that migrant women don’t “just come” to Canada, migrant women flee from their countries under extreme circumstances and with an immense need for support to overcome the impacts of gendered violence, the impact of migration and the complex process of adaptation.  We have taken many steps to ensure that we provide the appropriate support but also that we affect systemic change.

 Rosa Elena Arteaga

We provide support to all migrant girls and women who access our services. Through our feminist, intersectional and decolonizing approach, we recognize that migrant women deal with shared “cultural” as well as individual and unique experiences. This acknowledgment of the collective and individual needs requires caring and compassionate assistance and support. In our work supporting migrant women, we walk along side each woman with an understanding that migrant women face huge social isolation and many structural barriers related to their precarious status and social location.

Our specialized services include but are not limited to:

  1.  Assistance navigating the legal system,
  2.  Including education and information about the Canadian legal system,
  3.  Assistance to access legal support including referrals to lawyers from our selected list of lawyers,
  4. Accompaniment and support in order to attend refugee hearings,
  5. Assistance to access basic supports such as food/clothing/furniture, health services, shelters and transition houses, advocacy and support to obtain social assistance, education,
  6. Information and support about child protection and parenting,
  7. Language specific counselling and support groups, assistance and
  8. Advocacy to apply for social housing.

In our experience, migrant women have always faced structural barriers and we have taken action to address those barriers at systemic and individual level. In 2011, we responded to the Balanced Refugee Reform Act (Bill C-11) and exposed the impacts that those changes were going to have on refugee women. In Gender Persecution and Refugee Law in Canada written by Lobat Sadrehashemi, we expressed our concern about making more difficult for women fleeing gender-related persecution to be able to make their stories understood by decision-makers at the Immigration Refugee Board (IRB). We think that there will be many women who slip through the cracks, who do not have access to legal counsel. The current changes on the immigration policies have only increased the structural barriers. These barriers are putting migrant women at risk and depending on an immigration status; they are limited in their ability to access basic services such as health services, income assistance, legal support, and safe shelter. Furthermore, it will limit their right to protection because many migrant women would not call the police and expose the violence they are experiencing for fear of deportation.

We strongly believe that continued access to a full range of programs such as services offered by Battered Women’s Support Services and a strong collaboration among service providers, at municipal, provincial, national and international level, is vital to migrant women’s capacity to overcome the impact of gendered violence, forced migration and adaptation.

http://www.wikigender.org/index.php/Women_and_Agriculture

 

Last year, Battered Women’s Support Services responded to over 10,000 crisis calls from women and girls to get help and end violence. We could not provide this essential support without your contribution.

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Women’s Worlds 2011 – Why We Liked It? Why It Is Important for Us at Battered Women’s Support Services? by Andrea Canales and Rosa Elena Arteaga

Women’s Worlds 2011

Why we liked it? Why it is important for us at Battered Women’s Support Services?

by Andrea Canales and Rosa Elena Arteaga

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Rosa Elena Arteaga

We’re reflecting back on the four days we spent with over 1600 women from across the globe who gathered on unceded Algonquin territory, for Women’s Worlds 2011.   We were eager to take this opportunity to discuss issues affecting women in a global context in addition to raising concerns about the Canadian government’s response to women’s issues; among them violence against women which is the most pressing social issue of our time and one which we are committed to put at the front of the agenda.

 

We initiated our journey by joining an exclusive welcoming ceremony for Indigenous women; this welcome was an important start to our participation in this conference, as we could not begin our work without being grounded in the reality of Canada’s colonial history. We thank the Algonquin people for their generosity in allowing us to be part of their ceremony and having us in their traditional land.

 

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Lee Maracle and Andrea Canales

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L to R – Rosa Elena Arteaga, Darla Goodwin (WAVAW) and Andrea Canales

We facilitated our session on the first day of this conference on Breaking Cycles:  Empowering Non-Status, Refugee and Immigrant Women Who Experience Violence. Our room was at full capacity thus reflecting the very real need for these discussions and learnings to take place. Participants were appreciative of the comprehensive resources and deemed them “cutting edge”. Workers often feel isolated or lacking the tools to successfully support women and put forward requests for further collaboration and communication.

PrintMaterials

Battered Women’s Support Services Print Resources for Women and Front-Line Workers

Although women were coming from different parts of the world, the issues where quite similar: colonization, patriarchy, disrespect for the land, globalization, forced migration, and the savaging repercussions of imperialism. Many of the sessions reflected not only the work that we are doing but the pressing need for us to continue our work to end violence against women.

 

We attended RCMP Accountability?  Review of Yukon’s Police Force workshop which reviewed the case of two RCMP constables were tried and acquitted of sexual assault, Yukon equality-seeking and Aboriginal women’s groups mobilized to demand adequate police accountability. Panellists reported on their coalition-building activities, systemic problems in RCMP responses to male violence against women, racist behaviours, and on their recommendations for national police force change. We compared notes on the increase of arrests of battered women with activists from the Yukon and have committed to collaborating to further our work.  Here’s some of our work on Women Arrests and for Women.  Here’s our blog Women Arrests and Police Complaints:  We Must Remain Vigilant

WW2011- Yukon

RCMP Accountability? Review of Yukon’s Police Force 2010 – My Life Depended On It and recent news about RCMP Misconduct in the Yukon

Lois Moorcroft, Yukon Women’s Transition Home Society, Canada; Corinne McKay, Canada; Ketsia Houde, Les EssentiElles, Canada; Barbara McInerney, Kaushee’s Place, Yukon Women’s Transition Home Society, Canada

 

On day two we attended a powerful march to Parliament to demand justice for missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, which brought together over 800 conference representatives, alongside media. We took over the main streets of Ottawa, and paralyzed traffic during one of their busiest times of the day. Women of the world came together to make a statement that violence against women, especially violence against Indigenous women, will NOT be tolerated and it must end.  Sadly, Canada’s federal government announced on the same day of the march to Parliament Hill that there would be No Action Plan on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, further highlighting a distressing contradiction with Canada’s federal government “tough on crime” agenda.

 

Laura Odjick speaks about her daughter Maisy, who has been missing since 2009

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Highlight Reel from Day 2 Women’s Worlds 2011

At the end of the march, we gathered with other Latin American women, who expressed their appreciation at being part of this march.   As, Petronila, an Indigenous woman from Guatemala commented, they are also struggling with the “sanctioned” violence against Indigenous women in one of the largest genocides of modern times, which has left over 100,000 people dead.

 

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Indigenous Feminisms ROCKS

 

Hayley Moody speaks about “What does Aboriginal Women’s Leadership Mean to Me”?”

 

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Fleshmapping:  Prostitution in a Globalized World (foreground Cherry Smiley and Fay Blaney AWAN)

Day three we attended Fleshmapping, read this Blog by Rabble.ca for more info   Featuring daily at Women’s Worlds is the multi-lingual, multi-media exhibit Global Fleshmapping/ Les Draps Parlant/ La Resistencia de Las Mujeres: Prostitution in a Globalized World Fleshmapping incorporated interactive videos, games and 70 used bedsheets as canvasses on which women from across the country have expressed their resistance to prostitution and sex trafficking. On each day of the conference, 16 women from around the world came together in spontaneous, public consciousness-raising discussions about the connections between global trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women in their own areas including women who have left prostitution, front-line workers, academics, community organizers and others.

AndreaGrandmother

Storytelling and traditional Nunavut Songs

 

The plenaries and workshops we attended:

  • Breaking Ceilings in Mixed Organizations: Commonalities in Experiences from Nicaragua, Cuba and Canada
  • Harms of the Pornography Industry: Re-igniting Feminist Resistance
  • Towards Inclusion: Amplifying Women’s Leadership and Voices in the International Development Process
  • Violencia Contra la Mujer: Sexual, Social, Sistémico
  • Flesh Mapping: Prostitution in a Globalized World
  • RCMP Accountability? Review of Yukon’s Police Force 2010
  • Where is the Love? RE/thinking Feminist Workplaces
  • Challenges and Possibilities of Transnational and Cross-Cultural Feminist Self-Making
  • Importance of the Seal for Inuit Women
  • Addressing Sexual Violence with Young Women of Colour and Immigrant/Refugee Girls
  • Storytelling and traditional Nunavut Songs
  • Developing Leadership in a New Generation of Women of an Invisible Minority

A Global Team

The energy was vibrant throughout this gathering, as women felt a strong need to come together and make others witness of the issues that are affecting women in their countries. We leave with hope knowing that there are women everywhere, scholars, community organizers, food growers, writers, artists, mothers, daughters and grandmothers who have and will continue the fight against violence against women, for gender equality, for justice for all and who are moved by the hope to change the world for future generations. To these women we say thank you for their determination and for the reminder that we CAN and WILL make a change and that we are not alone. Thank you for being our witness.

We, here at Battered Women’s Support Services, will continue our hard work of ending violence against women; we are re-energized by the awareness that what we are doing is working and that we have a global team to collaborate and hope with.

We are grateful for the financial support from The Law Foundation of BC and Women’s Worlds 2011 for making our attendance possible