Mi’kmaw, African Nova Scotian advocates welcome funding for abuse survivors

HALIFAX _ The Nova Scotia and federal governments are investing $2-million in a project to support Indigenous and African Nova Scotian women who are survivors of domestic violence.

A news release on the province’s website says the project will help provide culture-based services for Indigenous and black communities.

The Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, the Association of Black Social Workers and the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre will be receiving the funding over the next few years.

The four groups have been asking survivors since December what’s most important to them to create a deeper understanding of how to better serve their communities.

According to research published on the Department of Justice’s website, Indigenous women experience higher rates of domestic abuse than non-Indigenous women.

Paula Marshall, executive director of the Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network, says her organization will use the money to create a triage model that will enable victim services workers to assist survivors immediately after an offence and connect them to organizations and cultural support.

“We’re hoping that by addressing this access to justice issue, we’re going to be reducing the number of women that are likely to be involved in that greater statistic of murdered and missing,” Marshall said.

Having a victim worker who an Indigenous survivor can relate to on issues such as marginalization, systemic racism and living on- or off-reserve is important, she added.

“I do believe that someone having Mi’kmaw language is definitely going to be an asset _ to be able to speak your own language _ when addressing very personal and scary issues,” Marshall said.

“If a person has to meet with somebody who doesn’t have to explain or defend or try to make them understand their personal situation, it’ll just expedite the process and provide less barriers for that person accessing services.”

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