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Canadian Government Invests C$2 Million to Combat Violence Against Aboriginal Women

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With the unsolved murders and disappearances of hundreds of aboriginal women languishing in cold-case files across Canada, the federal government is giving C$2 million to the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) for Evidence to Action II, an initiative that helps communities understand, prevent and respond to violence against aboriginal women and girls, the minister for status of women said.

"Ending violence against Aboriginal women and girls must be a community effort, and the Native Women's Association of Canada has a unique program to train and educate community leaders to understand, prevent and respond to all types of violence," said Rona Ambrose, the country’s minister of public works and government services as well as for the status of women. "Our government is proud to support their Evidence to Action II project, which we hope will protect and support Aboriginal women in dozens of communities across the country."

Evidence to Action I, the precursor to this one, developed tools and strategies to empower aboriginal communities, and women and girls themselves, to break the cycle of violence with $500,000 it received through the Women’s Program of Status of Women Canada. The second program will build on this by raising awareness in communities, governments and service providers to address the root causes of violence against aboriginal women and girls, the government’s press release said. Educators will also be educated, from those at the Canadian Police College, to colleges and universities, to elementary and high schools.

"This commitment shows that the Government of Canada and NWAC have a shared dedication to ending violence against aboriginal women and girls. We appreciate their support for the Evidence to Action project," said NWAC president Jeannette Corbiere-Lavell. "This project will help raise awareness of violence against aboriginal women and girls and mobilize Canadian communities to address this critical issue."

This is one of what the Canadian government said is a variety of initiatives across Canada “that contribute to keeping women and girls safe,” including a two-year, $10 million investment announced in fall 2010 to improve community safety and ensure better response on the part of authorities and the justice system to cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

The latter has taken fire from women’s advocacy groups, though, for what they consider misallocation of the money away from the groundbreaking research initiative Sisters in Spirit, which unmasked the extent of the violence afflicting aboriginal women in March 2010. The database of 582 murders and disappearances, many of them unsolved, has formed the cornerstone of subsequent action. The Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) reported on the funding controversy in November 2010.

Indian Country Today Media Network has covered the issue of violence against aboriginal women extensively. Read Valerie Taliman’s series here.