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News from the North: A digest of First Nations news from Canada

Study links assimilation to family violence

WINNEPEG, Manitoba - A study examining the causes of family violence in Aboriginal families has looked past the list of usual subjects and found a link to the impact of colonization on traditional culture and value systems.

Douglas Brownridge, an associate professor of family studies and a family violence specialist at the University of Manitoba, conducted the study. It was published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Brownridge said in the study that alcohol abuse, lack of education, poverty and unemployment cannot explain why Aboriginal women have remained seven times more likely to be abused than other Canadian women. He insisted that once common factors are eliminated, like alcoholism and the level of education, the only remaining explanation is the impact of hundreds of years of assimilation in eroding pride and traditional values.

Some of the other findings of the Brownridge study were:

o12.6 percent of aboriginal women had been victims of violence by their current partners in the previous five years while the figure for non-Aboriginal women was 3.5 percent;

othree times as many Aboriginal women were threatened by their partners;

ofive times as many Aboriginal women were raped by their partners.

The study is not scientifically conclusive, but Brownridge said the results definitely point to the loss of traditional culture as a reason for the alarming figures. He also called for "more global initiatives designed to restore missing elements of aboriginal culture" rather than a simple focus on treating substance abuse or poverty.

Sharon Perrault, a M?tis counselor who has worked with men in jail for acts of violence against women, said Brownridge's findings support what Aboriginals have been saying for years.

"People have lost a lot of their identity and culture ? It's taken 500 years to get to where we are today," said Perrault in an interview with the Canadian Press on Feb. 13. She also said treatment programs would be more effective in breaking the cycle of violence against Aboriginal women if they were delivered in a more traditional manner by other Aboriginals.

Amendment would delay C-6

OTTAWA - An opposition party amendment to Bill C-6, The Specific Claims Resolution Act, was introduced in Parliament on Feb. 7 and released in the Order of Business for the House of Commons on Feb. 10 that then sent the act back to committee for further consideration.

The amendment was made by Ken Epp, Canadian Alliance - Alberta, and Maurice Vallacott, Canadian Alliance - Saskatchewan. It calls for specific timetables to be added to the act for specific claims and a framework for making the negotiation process faster. The Epp-Vallacott amendment said C-6 needs to go back to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources to consider the changes.

Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Robert Nault had made a motion that C-6 be scheduled for a third reading and passed into law. The governing Liberal party seeks in the act to establish the Canadian Center for the Independent Resolution of First Nations Specific Claims.

Regardless of intent, any delay of C-6 would likely give Aboriginal leaders, who overwhelmingly oppose the bill, the opportunity to be further consulted even if their input is limited. Prior public hearings on C-6 limited the presentations even of National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Matthew Coon Come to only a few minutes.