TORONTO —The Ontario government announced a new program aimed at preventing violence against indigenous women and reduce its impact on youth, families and communities.
Premier Kathleen Wynne unveiled Walking Together Tuesday at Queen’s Park. The government has committed $100 million over three years in new funding to support implementation of the strategy, which it developed in collaboration with Indigenous partners of Ontario’s Joint Working Group on Violence Against Aboriginal Women.
The new strategy builds on the existing work of Indigenous partners, community organizations and government to raise awareness of and prevent violence; provide more effective programs and community services that reflect the priorities of Indigenous leaders and communities; and improve socio-economic conditions that support healing within Indigenous communities.
Walking Together focuses on six areas of action aimed at specific healing for the indigenous community as a whole and preserving the family unit.
Wynne said, “The appalling statistics on violence against Indigenous women reflect a reality that no one should have to endure. The strategy we have developed with Indigenous partners affirms that everyone in Ontario deserves to feel safe in their homes, schools, workplaces and communities. We all have a role to play in putting an end to this violence.”
The strategy is one of many steps on Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. It incorporates a number of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and reflects the government’s commitment to work with Indigenous partners.
Wynne said Ontario will continue to support the federal government’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer was present for the announcement. “First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities are diverse in their cultures, languages, beliefs and traditions. They know the challenges their communities face, and that’s why we are increasing our support for their efforts to provide unique solutions to Indigenous women and families,” said Zimmer.
In Ontario, indigenous women are three times more likely than non indigenous women to experience violence. Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues Tracy MacCharles was also present for the announcement and said the program is a positive step forward for everyone. “The way forward is through the strong collaboration we are announcing today,” said MacCharles. “This strategy is our collective step with Indigenous partners toward ending violence against Indigenous women for good.”
Since 2010, the government and Indigenous partners have worked hand in hand through the Joint Working Group on Violence Against Aboriginal Women.