VANCOUVER — The B.C. government’s decision to put a fund for Indigenous safety planning in the hands of an Indigenous-led organization was hailed as a step toward reconciliation for the province.
Leslie Varley, the executive director of the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, says it is an opportunity to develop provincewide help for Indigenous women and girls.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced Monday that the association will develop and administer the $5.34-million Path Forward Community Fund to help Indigenous communities and organizations expand safety planning programs.
Eligible projects include support to host planning sessions, culturally appropriate safety training, and healing and cultural supports.
The B.C. government says the fund advances priorities identified in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as well as its commitments in a 2019 plan to end violence against Indigenous people.
Varley says Indigenous women and girls have been the targets of violence by those who have preyed on their colonial poverty when they should have been protected.
“Until now, we’ve had to go through mainstream organizations to protect and support our women and girls,” she said. “That clearly hasn’t worked for us.”